Meal planning is one of those things that most of us know is important, but a lot of us choose not to do. I get it! Meal planning isn’t the most entertaining thing that we could be doing with our time, but it is necessary. It is a very powerful tool that saves us time and money. For me, meal planning is a non-negotiable in our house.
Chances are if you are reading this post, you’ve tried meal planning in the past and became overwhelmed during the process. You’re definitely not alone. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and had more overwhelming meal planning sessions than I can count, but along the way, I have found a few things that make meal planning go by so much smoother.
I wanted to share some of them today, in hopes that they will help to take the overwhelm out of meal planning for you. From here on out I want you to be able to meal plan in a way that is helpful, not stressful. Let’s get into the tips!
5 Tips To Help You Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed When Meal Planning
Tip #1: Take The Time To Make A List Of Tried And True Meals Your Family Enjoys
Take out a sheet of paper and write out a list of meals that your family likes to eat (that can be made in a reasonable amount of time). This is great to reference during meal planning. Making this list is helpful because it allows you to see meals that your family already likes, which gives you options and a starting point.
Tip #2: Avoid Planning Different Dinners For Multiple Different People
I was so guilty of this when Patrick and I first got married. I would often cook one dinner for myself and a completely different dinner for him. Now that I think back it makes sense why I would get so stressed come dinner time, once the week started.
In my opinion, preparing different dinners, during the week, for different members of the family is silly. Think about it… it’s hard enough for most of us to get one meal on the table… do you really want to try getting multiple meals on the table on the same night? For me, that answer is no. I highly encourage you not to make this mistake.
Tip #3: Reject The Idea That You Have To Plan A Different Meal For Each Day Of The Week
I used to do this when I first started meal planning. To me, there were seven days in the week so I needed to plan for seven days, right? Not exactly! Logically this makes sense, but in execution, I believe it is a bad idea. Just because there are seven days in the week doesn’t mean that you need to meal plan for all seven of them. Personally, I do not plan for more than five dinners weekly.
When meal planning you need to take into account your family’s habits and calendar. You have to consider things like: Does your family eat out on certain days of the week? Are there any upcoming events that will cause your family to not eat dinner at home on particular nights?
If you don’t take into account your family’s habits and calendar, not only do you waste time planning for too many meals, but inevitably you will end up wasting food and money.
Tip #4 Avoid Including Several Different Meals In Your Meal Plan That You’ve Never Tried Before
I know that it can be tempting to get ambitious when meal planning and decide that you want to try a new recipe every day of the week. I believe that this is a mistake. New recipes generally take longer to cook, which means you will have to be in the kitchen longer. One of the biggest keys to meal planning is setting a realistic plan.
For me, I found that it is not realistic to think that I will have the desire, once the week starts, to get in the kitchen every night and cook a new recipe. You know what actually happens? What is a well laid out plan on Sunday, turns into a fridge full of rotting food at the end of the week. If you do want to add new recipes to your meal plan (which is a good idea from time to time), I do not suggest adding more than two per week.
Tip #5: Limit Recipes That Require A Laundry List Of Ingredients
Sometimes when meal planning it’s tempting to want to try extravagant, Pinterest worthy, meals. It’s easy not to consider the practicality of it all at the time, but a lot of the time those meals require A LOT of ingredients.
What happens when you have a long day at work and the last thing you want to do is cook? What are the odds that you are going to get in the kitchen and cook a meal that requires you to pull out tons of ingredients that you have to prep and cook? I don’t know about you, but for me, the odds are pretty dang slim.
I highly recommend that you limit recipes where you need to buy a ton of different ingredients. If you want to try a new recipe, with a lot of ingredients, I’m all for it, but I would recommend saving those dinners for the weekend.
I hope these tips help you to avoid some of the mistakes that I made when I first started meal planning. Let me know if you have any questions. By the way, I’m really interested to know, what stresses you out the most when it comes to meal planning? You can let me know by commenting below or sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You May Also Find These Posts Helpful: