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8 Ways To Make Meal Planning Easier

Many of us go into a week with the best of intentions - get organised, make a plan, and stick to it. However, the daily routine can get very busy, leaving little room to plan what’s for dinner. It can be a struggle to find meal ideas that fit within a budget; to please the discerning taste buds of those you live with, or to find motivation if you are cooking for one.

Meal planning is one way to help take the pressure off in the late afternoon when you are suddenly struck with the question, “what’s for dinner”? Planning your meals in advance can save you time, money, and meal-time stress by helping you buy only what you need, and eat what you buy. Here are a few tips for doing it right.

1. Regularly check your fridge, pantry, & freezer so you can make note of ingredients you have on hand that should be used before they spoil. Also, make note of any staples you could incorporate as well (like rice or beans) to reduce your overall grocery purchases.

2. Eating seasonally is good for you and good for your wallet. Try to figure out what will be in-season so you can plan meals around those items before you go out for your shop.

3. Check out your favourite supermarket’s weekly specials to see if there’s anything interesting you could incorporate in your meal plan.

4. Sit down and spend at least 15 minutes planning out your dinners and grocery list for the week ahead based on the food you have on hand and supermarket sales. Pick out one brand new recipe to try each week to keep things interesting! Be adventurous and go for at least one meal a week you’ve never made before. There are hundreds of recipes here to get you started.

5. If you have kids, get them involved in helping you think of meal ideas for the upcoming week. Pull out some cookbooks, sit down together, and ask for their input. It is difficult to overstate the importance of getting the kids into the kitchen, and the earlier you can do it, the better.

6. In-between your weekly meal planning sessions always be on the lookout for inspiring recipes and meal ideas. Keep those recipes handy in a file folder, internet bookmark, or another reliable spot so you can reference them easily for inspiration.

7. Only plan to make 4 to 5 different dinners each week – one of which is a new recipe. You can have leftovers, scrounge (breakfast for dinner anyone?), or be spontaneous on the other nights.

8. Most importantly ... be flexible. If something unexpected comes up one evening (like laziness!) just move the planned dinner to the next night.

Posted by Shawn Moodie

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