Eating is something we all need to do. However, trying to figure out what to serve for each meal every day can become a frustrating task quite quickly. One way to alleviate this issue is by thoughtfully planning out your meals in advance. If that seems like too much trouble, keep reading to find some easy tips and tricks to help you plan your meals and get on with the rest of your life.
Allow yourself some time to search for recipes
Unless you enjoy eating the same meals every week, you need to expand your cooking repertoire. Allow yourself a small chunk of time each month to look for new recipes. Both you and your family will begin to look forward to trying a few new dishes each month. It will also be interesting to see which new dishes become favorites before too long.
Use a calendar
Keep a calendar that is specifically for writing down your meals. Jot down some ideas of what you want to eat over the next few weeks and start filling it in accordingly. If your family members have a specific meal they want, invite them to help you fill in the calendar as well. It can be fun when everyone contributes to the family menu planning.
It is much easier to prepare meals when you have the ingredients you need on-hand. Always make sure you have items such as pasta stocked and ready to go. Don’t forget about oils and other ingredients you cannot cook without.
Shop from a list
After you have a week’s worth of meals planned out, make a list of everything you will need to prepare the meals that week. Then, check your fridge and pantry to see what you already have. Everything else needs to go on a shopping list. That way, when you are ready to make each meal, you will be sure to have everything you need ready and waiting for you.
Prepare meals with what you have on-hand
Check your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to see what you already have available. With a little forethought and ingenuity you can prepare some interesting meals from ingredients you already have. For example, you can easily throw together this delicious Ham and Cheese Baked Casserole with ingredients you probably already have in the house, such as pasta, butter, jarred Alfredo sauce, and John Wm. Macy Co. Garlic Romano CheeseCrisps.
Check for what is on sale
If you want to be an economical shopper, take a look at the various food ads before you plan your meals. Try to plan your meals around items that are on sale each week. Also, if you do not have time to stop at each store to purchase whatever has the lowest price that week, go to the store that has the most items you need on sale. You will save time and gas only going to one store.
The freezer is your friend
The freezer can be a lifesaver when you are planning your meals in advance. It is just as easy to make double batches of spaghetti sauce or full meals like stews or chili and then save half in the freezer. Then, when you need it the next time, all you need to do is defrost what you have in your freezer, and you’ll have an instant meal in no time at all.
Prepare for what you have time for
Keep your family’s schedule in mind when you are planning your meals for the week. Plan a meal that can be prepared in the slow cooker for a night when you don’t have time to prepare a big meal. Plan on leftovers on nights when you have limited time to spare. Save bigger meals for nights when there is time to prepare them and everyone will be home to enjoy them.
Don’t forget that a meal plan is simply a guideline for you to follow. If your plan originally called for chicken one night, but the store has fish on sale, go ahead and change directions. The same goes for vegetables and starches. Creating a meal plan and following it is ideal, but being willing to diverge from it can also make your life less stressful.
Meal planning is a good habit that anyone can start at any time. Meal plans are great tools that will help you stay focused and enable you to make meals for your family that are both nutritious and delicious without having to tear your hair out wondering how to do it. Whatever you are planning for dinner this week, don’t forget to pick up some of John Wm. Macy's gourmet cheese snacks. They make every day better.
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