Between motherhood, marriage, building a career, and holding the house down, a lot of the time, our days can be pretty on the fly. Especially now that it’s summertime. I definitely would like to spend less time in the kitchen and more time outdoors with my family. As much as I enjoy cooking delicious meals, the planning part of cooking has often been a test for our taste buds.
I know that we all can relate to or overhear conversations about “what am I going to make for dinner” that are immediately followed by a smack of the lips because they realize how much time it’ll take or that they don’t have a key ingredient.
After hours of searching through different cookbooks and meal prepping guides, I finally was able to put together my own simple & easy guide to meal planning that’ll keep all of our taste buds happy and our body healthy.
7 Tips for a simple and easy guide to meal planning
- Start simple. Start small.
To meal planning newbies, I realized how our taste buds can be a bit overwhelmed with flavorful excitement. So for the first week, I recommend planning out small and simple meals for two days just to see how your family will react and if you like the consistency. Start by taking some time out to plan ahead while you have some free time.
- Create a menu
As a test to everyone’s taste buds, it is beneficial to map out the type of meal that you want to have during the week. Sometimes I’m forgetful when I go into the store with no list. With this simple and easy meal planning guide, I started to write down the meals that I know everyone goes crazy over when I make it. As I was researching different meals to incorporate, I came across Hello Fresh. A meal kit delivery service that delivers fresh, pre-portioned ingredients and delicious recipes delivered at your door. Tip: use Pinterest, Google, and blogs to search for recipes. You can start a Pinterest board to save recipes you want to try, or screenshot them on your phone
- Grocery list
Once you figure out what meals you want, then it’s time to start creating the list. Having a list has always kept me on track at the grocery store. It’ll help me get exactly what I need and allows me to see what I still need if I have to make another store run. Also, something cool about Hello Fresh is that you are able to personalize your meal plan by your particular food groups, recipes per week, and a number of people. Just like that, you will have all that you need for simple and easy meals for the week
After meal planning comes the prepping. This is arguably the most important step in the process as a whole. Meal Prepping is when you have down every ingredient and recipe to create a delicious and healthy meal. For example, I made buffalo chicken dip earlier this week and for that, I wrote down 1. Shredded chicken 2. Add buffalo sauce, 3. Sprinkled sharp cheese etc… The night before, I will prepare and cook the chicken so that way for dinner I only need to lightly reheat the chicken with the additional ingredients.
- Plan a theme night
Let’s make dinner a whole lot more interesting by incorporating different themes like Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Fish Fryday, Soulful Sunday, etc… Having a theme makes planning easy because you know exactly what you need for that specific night. Also, don’t be afraid to go all out and try cuisine from a different culture. This is something the kids can have fun with too because not only are they expanding their palate but they are also opening their minds up to new cultural experiences. I know I am a sucker for Tori Paitan Ramen, a Japanese ramen bowl.
- Cooking with the family
Cooking can always be a fun time when sharing the experience with the ones you love. You get to show your kids their official way around the kitchen, especially the little humans of the world. Their curiosity and willingness to help at a young age are golden. Getting the kids involved with meal planning and prepping by letting them choose dinner for one night out of the week is also a great way to teach them independence and incorporate well-needed bonding time.
- Ease into it
Honestly, some days I’d rather come home from a long day of work, hang my supermom suit up, kiss the hubby and the kids, then enjoy a full course meal with my beautiful family. Ideally, that would be perfect every night. Sometimes I just say “not today” and order from one of our favorite restaurants. Occasionally, stop at one of our favorite food trucks in Atlanta, if we just so happen to be in the area.
Whether you are a newbie to meal planning or a seasoned chef in the kitchen, creating a simple and easy meal planning guide that is budget-friendly, easy to make, and delicious to the taste doesn’t have to be complex. As long as the meals that you are choosing keep the family happy & healthy then that’s all that matters!