It seemed to get away from me this last year. When the freezer and pantry felt full, but there was nothing to put together– a frustrating state…. The days would be long only to come home to frozen meat and no fresh produce….let’s eat out. I was desperate to change something. I have done and redone meal planning nearly every year as our diet has evolved.
I waited until I had a quiet morning on the weekend to sit down and meal plan. When do you have the most energy? Over the years, a productive morning seemed to become a pattern in my life and has convinced me that an early morning, even before the rest of the house is awake is when I have the most clarity…when I had my most energy. I stacked my favorite cookbooks on the kitchen table, brewed a cup of coffee with all my yummy creamer and thumbed through and jotted down all of my favorite recipes. These recipes are not holiday recipes. These are the go to weekly recipes that we love in our house.
If you are wanting to revamp your meal planning, I would suggest a few tips to keep you on track for 1 hour of planning.
- Take inventory. This is huge which is why I list it first. Make a list of everything in your pantry and freezer, then build your first week or two of meals off of those panko breadcrumbs and frozen shrimp.
- Keep it simple. I mean, really simple. Especially if you are in a busy season.
- Categorize by time. When a meal is longer to make than 30 minutes, I note that it is a “Weekender”. Don’t slave away on a weeknight when you know you have had a busy day and little energy left.
- Incorporate where you can. We are transitioning to healthier meal options that are more nutrient dense. This calls for fresher produce and using up our garden harvest. We have to be intentional with our produce so we don’t waste. Add a side of veggies to your casserole or pasta. Eat fruit for dessert instead of a baked good.
- Eat from the freezer and pantry. This is the easiest way to save money and not let food go to waste.
- Meal prep on your free days. washing and preparing fresh produce as soon as you bring it home is such a simple yet affective way to cut down the time on cooking throughout the week.
- Check your meal plan the night before. There might be meat that needs to thaw or marinate overnight. You will thank yourself and not be tempted to eat out.
This is not an exhaustive list, but definitely helped me succeed in re-working my meal planning.
Are you a meal planner? Do you prep on the weekends or weeknights? Are you in need of a complete overhaul?
A few of my favorite resources this year for meal planning:
The Thankful Homemaker Meal Planning