Meal Planning 101

momhome management

Meal planning How often are you as a mom asked the question, "What's for dinner?"

If your house is anything like mine, the answer to that question is probably, "Way more often than I'd like." Can you relate?

I actually enjoy cooking quite a bit. But I like cooking on my schedule, and not under pressure. And throwing something together at the last minute with hungry kids clamoring for another snack is certainly what I call pressure.

One of the most frequently shared tips I pass on to fellow moms to help them manage dinner time (and the budget, too!) is to develop some kind of meal planning routine.

Ten Reasons to Plan Your Meals in Advance

Have you ever debated about whether or not to plan your meals in advance? Here's 10 reasons why you should start meal planning:

  1. You'll know exactly what I need to buy at the grocery store, which helps avoid buying unnecessary items.
  2. Buying only what you need, helps you spend less.
  3. You'll always know the answer to the question, “What’s for dinner?”
  4. No more 5:30 headaches trying to figure out what you're in the mood to prepare.
  5. You'll find that you make fewer trips to the grocery store.
  6. You'll waste fewer ingredients bought and never used.
  7. You'll be less likely to eat out when meals have been planned ahead.
  8. You'll eat healthier. Meals tend to be more well balanced when prepared in advance and eaten at home.
  9. You'll be more likely to include important things like veggies, fiber, etc. when you planned ahead.
  10. And the most enticing reason? Cooking is more enjoyable when there’s less stress!

Meal Planning Methods

Implementing a meal planning routine is easiest when you find one that fits your family, your time, and your personality the best. I recommend testing out a couple of methods to see what you prefer. The two methods I use the most are:

  • The Calendar Plan: Write down specific meals that you are going to prepare each day of the week.  I will typically write 5 days worth of dinners on the calendar per week and count on having left overs twice a week.
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  • The Flexible Plan: Plan and shop for a set number of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (ie--enough for one or two weeks) and then keep a list on the fridge of the "available" meals for the week. Each morning, see what you're in the mood to cook.

What tips do you have for meal planning?

Lolli Lolli is a mother of five who believes that kids can do more than they lead us to believe. So she puts her kids to work cleaning and cooking as much as possible, reassuring them the whole while that they will thank her for it someday. When the kids are at school, Lolli spends her time writing on her blog, Better in Bulk, tweeting, and editing pictures from her latest photo shoots.

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