Meal planning is the best way to ensure that your family is consuming nutritiously balanced foods. It can get overwhelming if you've never done it before or if you don't know how to best work it for your family. I've covered you with all the basics to get started!
- To make sure your family gets nutritious meals that taste great! As parents, we want our children to receive the best possible nutrition so that they can grow into healthy, strong and disease-free adults. We also want them to develop healthy habits along the way so that one day they can make good food choices for themselves. Providing healthy, balanced meals is one of the best ways to do this.
- To help you spend less money on groceries. If you know exactly what you are going to prepare for your meals, you end up not buying extra ingredients that you are not using. Also, seasonal recipes lower costs because you buy things for a better price when they are in season. You will also find yourself eating out less!
- To save you time, effort and stress! Knowing ahead of time what you are going to do can help prepare yourself by having ingredients on hand, defrosting food if necessary, and saving yourself from the 4:30 pm "What do I do for dinner?" Crisis.
Methods of Meal Planning
There are many different meal planning methods. These are the methods that we have found to be the most successful.
1) Weekly method
- Start by making an inventory of the ingredients you already have on hand.
- Choose meals for each day of the week and make a shopping list that includes the ingredients for those meals.
- Go through the same routine for the next week, planning your purchases for what you plan to do that week, and so on.
2) Two week method
- Start with an inventory of the staples in your pantry and your frozen foods. You will be going on a big shopping spree earlier this month.
- For the first week of the month, plan meals for that week and create a shopping list that matches the meals you have planned and already have.
- When you go to the store, buy what's on your list, but also look for deals. When there's something for sale, put it away for use later in the month.
- No need to shop to plan your second week of the month. Instead, take a careful inventory of what you already have and what needs to be consumed, and plan your meal week with just those foods.
3) Monthly method
- Pick 30-40 of your favorite recipes to twirl through. You can add a new recipe or do something twice if your family really loves it, but generally stick with your 30 tried and tested recipes.
- Before you go shopping, do a quick inventory of staple foods and ingredients.
- Start the month off with a big shopping spree and buy anything that isn't bad and perishable that will last 1-2 weeks. Then simply refer to your meal plan and search for items you need weekly.
4) Freezer Cooking
- Take a few hours to plan your meals and make your shopping list.
- Shop everything you will make.
- Cook all of your meals.
- The goal is that by the end of 1-2 days you will have frozen meals for almost a month.
Simplify meal planning
- Seasonal meal plans. Plan your meals according to the season. This way, you will save money and get most of the flavor out of your food.
- Create a fallback. Make a meal plan that includes all of your family's favorites that you can use in a pinch.
- Make meals that can work together. Try to plan your meals so that you can use leftover portions of one meal to supplement another meal.
Example of menu plans
It is important to make good decisions about the food that you bring into your home and serve your family, but life can definitely get hectic and makes it much more difficult. If you feel overwhelmed with meal planning yourself, we did all the work for you! Our family fresh meal plan includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner, an automated grocery list scheduled for you, and the ability to customize!
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