If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get better with menu planning then we’re here to help! Every Sunday starting January 1st we’ll be featuring family friendly meal plans that are easy, healthy and ready in 29 minutes or less! What we love about our meal plans is they feature delicious recipes from around the web that are not only easy to prepare but everyone will love! Each week we will feature 5 recipes including links to the recipes so you can easily print and save. All you need to do is print the recipe and decide what day you want to make it!
So you might be thinking why are we only featuring 5 recipes instead of 7? Good question! After years of meal planning and thinking I had to plan a meal every single day I realized I was wasting food, primarily leftovers because I felt I needed to cook a new meal everyday. I quickly learned that you don’t have to have every day planned. I like a little flexibility in my schedule because let’s face it schedules change, things come up and most importantly leftovers happen. If I can get two meals out of one I’ll take it! It’s a total timesaver!
So you definitely have to have room in your meal plan for change. That’s why the meal plans I design are not based on the day of the week but just a meal for that week. Make it on Monday, Wednesday or Sunday. You choose. The point is to have 5 recipes ready to go for the week and the ingredients on hand so you can prepare them any night of the week. And if leftovers do happen, try not to recycle it the next day on the menu. Wait a day so there isn’t burnout.
Also, consider freezing leftovers. If you make a big pot of chili instead of eating it five days in a row freeze some so you have it on hand to incorporate in another weekly menu on one of those off nights. Plus, it totally saves you time in the kitchen from making dinner! Casseroles are perfect freezer meals too. When possible I’ll make one and freeze one to pop in the oven on a busy weeknight. Typically I know ahead of time if I’m going to incorporate a freezer meal in my menu planning so it helps with planning. I also usually use them within a month, two at the latest.
I know meal planning can be a daunting task but honestly you should spend no more than 29 minutes a week planning your weekly menu. And that’s why we’re hear to help! I’ll be discussing more about menu planning and how I generally menu plan in upcoming podcasts beginning with the one you can listen to below.
Tips to consider when meal planning
- Only plan 5 meals a week – have flexibility in your schedule for leftovers, dining out, etc… If you need an extra meal or two to fill in the rest of the week hit the freezer stash or create a basket in your pantry with some easy, go-to meals you can always have on hand. It can simply be a jar or pasta sauce and a box of pasta. It’s simple and who doesn’t love that!
- Make one and freeze one! To save time consider freezing leftovers or doubling the recipe especially soups, chili and casseroles!
- Get the family involved. It’s their meal plan too! If you’re being too adventurous in the kitchen and making dishes your family isn’t going to eat you’re wasting time and money.
- Recycle meal plans. If you found a week of meals that worked KEEP IT! Don’t reuse it the next week but recycle the meal plan each month plus you’re saving time each week meal planning!
- Don’t overthink it! If you’re spending too much time meal planning stop! Don’t spend more than 29 minutes meal planning each week!
- Keep it simple! It doesn’t have to be gourmet Julia Childs meals every night of the week. You can still create delicious meals for your family without a thousand ingredients!
- Keep a three ring binder with your favorite family recipes. If you have recipes you’re family raves about add them to a folder preferably a binder that you can easily access and recycle those recipes once a month in your meal plan. Try to refrain from cooking recipe too often so your family doesn’t get bored with it. Once a month is a good rule of thumb.
- Most importantly have fun! Have theme nights like Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Take Out Friday, Slow Cooker Saturday.
There’s no time like the present to get started so let the meal planning begin!