Meal Planning Made Easy(ier)

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I have tried fancy meal-planning systems and calendars.  Once upon a time, I made four weeks’ worth of meal plans and the grocery lists to go with them and used them over the course of a month at a time.  I wanted to formulize formulate simplify meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking because it can be a big, daunting task for a didn’t-cook-before-I-married girl.  I was making it way more complicated than it needed to be.

Nowadays, it’s simple for me.  Here’s why:

  • I don’t pressure myself to make fancy or complicated meals.  Easy, simple family favorites are what I prepare most nights.
  • I keep things interesting by trying new things when I feel like it.  When I have a recipe I want to try, I plan it for a night when I know I’ll have extra time and extra energy to put into the meal.  (I probably only make something new two or three times in a months’ time.)
  • I keep all my recipes fairly accessible.  All my cookbooks share a shelf in the kitchen, and I save recipes I like to my “recipe box” on allrecipes.com, so I can get my hands on a recipe when I need to.
  • I use some general themes for meal planning.  Some ideas for meal theme nights are:
  1. Breakfast Night (omelettes and biscuits or pancakes and eggs)
  2. Pizza & Movie Night (usually Friday nights for us)
  3. Italian Night (spaghetti, chicken spaghetti, lasagna or baked ziti)
  4. Mexican Night (tacos, enchiladas, taco salad or chicken chimichangas)
  5. Family Favorite Night (right now for us this is chicken nuggets, fries, and fruit salad)
  6. Soup & Sandwiches Night
  7. Leftover Night
  8. No Cook Night (raw fruits and veggies, cheese cubes, hummus, bread– nothing you have to “cook”)
  9. Crock Pot Night

Themes add variety to my weekly meals.  When I sit down with my Daily Specials (Menu Board) and a marker, I think about what we’ll have going on each day and then quickly assign a theme and a meal idea to each night.  From there I look over the recipes I’ll need and make my grocery list.  Truly, it takes me a total of fifteen minutes to meal plan for a week!

How can you simplify your meal planning?  What theme nights would you add to the list?

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Author: Sheila Stover

I'm a grace-loving, coffee-guzzling, overseas-living wife, mom, home school teacher and I process it all through writing when I can!

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