Some people make meal planning look so easy. But for others, this process can be a series of start and fails that discourage families and individuals from being more strategic about food choices and budgeting. If you’ve found it hard to meal plan for your family or yourself, read on for sanity-saving tips to move you from frustrated to fully engaged in planning delicious, healthy, budget-friendly meals.
Know Your Staple Meals:
People think about staple foods, but not necessarily staple meals. What are some meals you or your family enjoy? Keep a growing list of dishes that are easy go-to meals because you enjoy them. Start with five primary meals, and work up to maybe 20 of them you can choose from. That way, you can plan each week using mainly your staple meals, and then experiment with two or three new dishes to add variety.
Be About the Spice Life:
Try to keep fresh herbs on hand and if you can’t source what you’re looking for, be sure to purchase organic whenever possible. Test out the ways that seasoning will change the flavors of your meal significantly enough to make it taste like a brand new meal. Proteins and starches alike can be flavored in many ways to please multiple palates, so don’t be afraid to include curries and other spices that offer variety of flavor with a simple change in the set of spices you use.
Develop a Working Outline:
One of the easiest ways people fall short of meal planning goals is feeling pressed for time. To avoid that feeling when coming up with ideas for prepping, have a weekly template that includes what type of food you’ll cook that week (i.e. two stir-fry meals, two chicken meals, two soups, etc.).
Organize Your Intentions:
A meal calendar and an organized set of recipes are vital to your success. Whether you use a virtual system (like Pinterest) or a good, old-fashioned tangible notebook, it’s imperative that your recipes are organized, the staple ingredients that can be used in multiple recipes are highlighted, and you’ve established set days of the week to make those meals.
Don’t be afraid to try different routes to organizing your process. It can be fun to find what works for your family, so go online to get inspired, and then get started.