How many times have you thought for just a moment that you had your day under control only to have one of your precious people walk up and ask you, “What’s for dinner?” Ugggh! The struggle is real, folks. Let me tell you, and you are not alone! I am going to share with you 8 meal planning hacks that you can’t live without! It even includes a 10-day meal plan complete with a calendar to get you kickstarted.
I would like to say that meal planning is the end-all-be-all to this question. But let’s be real, they are going to ask, but this time you will have an answer! And even if by some rare chance you don’t regularly face this question, it will be one less thing to have to tackle every evening. All it takes is a little planning, but the simplification of your evening, oh my goodness you can’t imagine. So, let’s do it. Let’s take that nightly dinner stress off your plate.
I know you’re asking, but how? Well, in its simplest approach, it is just a little planning ahead. I talk more about the process of meal planning in depth in my post, Meal Planning: Save your sanity with this simple strategy.
Here are the basics.
First, figure out a time frame that is comfortable for you. One week is a good start. It allows you to see how it all works and get the hang of it, while not taking on too much. You are exchanging a certain amount of work upfront to have simplicity during the week. The cool part is that the amount of effort to plan out a weeks’ worth of meal in one sitting is WAY less than taking that task on EVERY night. Yay for simple solutions!
There are varying degrees of planning and prep you can do. A calendar or menu with what is for dinner each night is a perfect start.
If you want to simplify dinner time every night even further try these 8 meal planning hacks:
- Make some of the days themed, so they repeat each week. This cuts down on the number of new meals you have to plan. (Taco Tuesday, Quesadilla Wednesday, Pizza Friday) Think, anything that you can switch up or vary how it tastes while not having to put much thought into it. (Baked Potato bar?!?)
- Prepare extra and schedule leftovers for later in the week.
- Cook as much as you can on the weekends and reheat during the week.
- Source new recipes from the internet. Especially blogs!
- Pull your family favorites together to make a plan.
- Make two or more one-week plans and then rotate. I love this trick! A little planning up front and you can rotate these plans over and over. Virtually removing the planning process once you get rolling. This works very well if you put together 3-4 weekly plans. This keeps everyone from getting burned out.
- Keep it simple, think of all the super easy things you can throw together. (HINT: sandwich and chips count! How about grilled cheese and soup or breakfast for dinner)?
- Double or triple up your recipes or find meal prep plans on the internet to mass prepare freezer meals for several weeks or even up to a month. Then you just get one out each day. BOOM! (There’re a lot of slow cooker plans out there, so that takes “simple” to a completely new level! J)
Getting started can be overwhelming. Trust me, I know! That is why I put together some of my family’s favorites in a 10-day meal plan, to get you rolling if you are looking for meal planning ideas. These goodies are major staples. You can tackle them as two five-day meal plans with leftovers on the weekends or sprinkle them in with your family favorites to make a meal plan all your own!
Meal planning on a budget is a fantastic way to rein in grocery expenses. Meal planning has grown in popularity and is a go-to strategy to solve the weekly dinner struggle. Meal planning help, as well as weekly meal plan ideas, are easily found from this blog and so many others! Go to my post Meal Planning: Save Your Sanity with this Simple Strategy is where I break it all down and getting you rolling on the “how to” of meal planning