I have to admit I used to just wing dinner most nights and it was so stressful. My grocery list didn’t really exist and some nights meat wasn’t defrosted or I was missing an ingredient for a dinner I wanted to make. It was a complete mess and I knew I needed some kind of organization and meal plan in place. Now let me first start off by confessing to you, I’m not as organized or fancy as you may think. I’m simple, and keep it real over here. I’ve outlined how my planning goes, and hopefully you’ll find some meal planning ideas for you and your family.
Pick a day to plan–
Pick any day of the week that works for you and your family to start your meal planning. For me, Sunday night is when I get everything in order for my household. It helps me get organized and ready for the week. I look at my calendar to see what we have scheduled, and it helps me get ready to start figuring out what meals will work for each day. For instance, if we have a busy day of swimming or I have a couple of meetings, then I’m going to make sure we have an easy dinner or maybe we will plan to pick something up.
Organize your meals-
Time to start writing up what you’re having throughout the week. Some people have chalk boards, planners, or just use their phone. I personally write it up in my phone under my “notes” app. I headline it “Dinners” and it helps me go into my phone and write a list down or it makes it easy to change if for some reason I have a change of heart.
Create your dinners for the week-
This is the fun part and it’s not daunting. I know it can be a lot of pressure to be the cook and prep meals for your family. I go through weeks when it feels like a chore and other weeks when it’s filled with fun and creativity. I get a high feeding my family healthy meals. We eat at home 90% of the time. Since the pandemic, we have cleaned up our act and going out to eat is a treat now. We have cut our lunches and dinners out and just decided it’s not only healthier but financially it just makes more sense.
Make it fun-
Every week I try to do a fun dinner for one family member. Both my kids love ground beef, so I make tacos or hamburgers for them. My husband is a fisherman so if he catches fish that week it’s for sure on the menu. I also change up the week and I don’t repeat dinners that we had the week before. I may tweak a dinner to give it a different feel and flavor, but I try not to repeat. For instance, if we have soup one week, I may do soup the next week but make a different kind. I try not to overthink it and get inspired off other bloggers, from Instagram, or I just wing it. On the nights I don’t want to create in the kitchen, I either throw a soup together, roast veggies and cut up a rotisserie chicken for a bowl, or put together a gluten-free lasagna.
There is always a week where my “planned” menu is thrown off. Something pops up or there are nights I might have had a hard day and cooking sounds like it’s not in the cards. Or if I forget to pull the chicken out of the freezer, I’m scrambling to figure out dinner at 5pm. It’s okay, and I always seem to figure it out. One night we all were coming off the stomach bug and didn’t have the best appetite. So I made us all eggs, potatoes, and toast. My main goal is to cook at home with clean ingredients, always add flavor, and try new things.
Always take a night off-
You’re not super woman, and we all have nights when we want someone to cook for us. For me, that’s where restaurants come in. I just need one day a week off and that’s usually Friday night. It just feels like a great beginning into my weekend and a good end to my busy week. Some nights it’s ordering pizza and others it’s trying a new restaurant out. Again, each week varies since maybe we have plans to barbecue with friends or a dinner party is in the books. When I plan the week out on Sunday night, I usually have an idea of what day to block out for my “free cooking night,” then I get to look forward to that!
Grocery shop + Farm Cart Organics order-
The part that makes grocery shopping easier? I know what we need for the recipes that week. I may need Siete taco seasoning for the tacos and cilantro. By mapping out our meals, I’m not wasting food by grabbing something and hoping we use it, and it’s more cost effective.
Farm Cart Organics is my fresh organic veggie and fruit company I order from every week. You have to put your order in by 6pm Sunday night and it’s perfect timing for me to organize my dinners. So I will usually grab what I need or sometimes it inspires my menu off what’s in season.