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I am all about trying to figure out ways to make my life run smoother and be easier. We are in the middle of clearing out our home. Starting to plan for a future move and the holidays are coming. Not to mention life is just always full of things to do and stuff that needs to get done. Right? So I’m sharing how I make meal planning simple.
Meal planning is like most things. It’s as complicated and time-consuming as you let it be. I don’t enjoy cooking very much. So I want that area of my life to be quick and easy. So I plan ahead. These are my five steps to make meal planning simple.
1 Have some easy go-to meals that your family enjoys
If you enjoy cooking and putting together elaborate meals than you might not need this step as much. I want to be able to put together something for my family to eat in as short of time as possible. So I have a couple meals that I know I can throw together quickly and that my husband and daughter will enjoy.
Some weeks I will plan more new meals to try out and see if we enjoy them. The more of those new meals I am testing and trying out, though. Means the more of our favorite standbys I mix into the week. I want to make sure that the meals I know are simple for me are planned for the nights we are busier. Like ballet class night in my families case.
related post: 30 quick dinner ideas
2. stock up on frequently used ingredients when you are able to
If you know you are going to have some regular meals that will be added to your menu often than you can have a good idea of what ingredients you’ll be using often. For my family one of our go-to meals is spaghetti. So if I see a good deal on pasta or sauce one week.
I will get a lot of them since I can store pasta and sauce in the pantry without it going bad. This works for items that go in the pantry or freezer and store for awhile. Not only does this save me money because I’m buying up the things I need when they are at a better price instead of week to week when prices vary and go up.
3. make a shopping list based on what you need for that week’s meals
It’s not ever going to be one of my favorite tasks but it really helps you out when you make a shopping list based on the meals you have planned for the week. I prefer to just wing it when I shop but that becomes an expensive habit because I would forget things and need to make multiple trips to the store per week. Either that or I’d end up buying things I don’t need and too much and food would go bad and I’d throw it out.
So now I save money and time by putting together a shopping list for the week. I still forget things now and again but it’s much less frequent so I’m not running tons of extra trips. I like to keep my lists in Evernote that’s just my preferred method. There are plenty of digital options for making lists on your phone or you can always go the paper and pen way.
4. plan some really quick throw together meals for nights when life gets crazy
Since life doesn’t always go as planned and there will be nights that we get overwhelmed and busy and are meal planned dinner doesn’t turn out or takes too long. We’ve all been there and felt that overwhelmed feeling of needing to get something made and made fast for our family.
To help prevent those kinds of nights throwing me off. I keep things on hand to make those easy go-to meals so that if a dinner I’m trying out doesn’t go as planned. It’s on to plan B and we can quickly pull together something else. I have found that the key to being less stressed is to try and anticipate potential stressors and have solutions ready fir them.
5. I make more than we need so that there are leftovers
One of my best ways to make meal planning simple is to have leftover nights more often. I make this possible by making extra of the dinners we have throughout the week. There is almost always food in the fridge from the night or two before. This also helps us out because my husband sometimes likes to eat after he gets off work. He typically has his lunch break around 3 or 4 and eats then but by 9 or 10 at night he wants to eat dinner.
I try to make one night a week where we just eat leftovers. That gives me one night where I don’t have to make dinner and there is still plenty to eat that night. Leftovers are also great for me to eat during the day while I’m working.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make meal planning simple. Just a bit of planning ahead. Think about what meals you want to make, make a shopping list, get groceries than making dinner. That’s really all to it. You can make it more of a process but for me, this is one area of my life I like to keep simple.