Let’s go ahead and cover the WHY first. Why add one more thing to your already complicated and busy To Do list? To save time and money, and to give you and your family a healthier lifestyle.
Time: Don’t waste your time ever again in front of the fridge and the pantry trying to pull a meal out of thin air after a busy day with the hungry, impatient clan nipping at your heels.
Money: How many times have you come home from a “quick trip” to Target or the grocery store to grab something for dinner and come out with $100 worth of food and things you don’t actually need (or even want, when you’re not starving and ready to eat your arm off). With a full week’s worth of meals planned and shopped for you can avoid those last minute trips and those unneeded add-ons.
When you plan ahead you can save money (without be an extreme couponer walking around store after store with binders of coupons). Just visit the website of your favorite stores (or grab a circular if that tickles your fancy) and plan meals based on what’s on sale. Good deal on tomatoes? How about grilled chicken and a caprese salad?
Health: Ever wonder why it’s easier to make healthy choices for you and your family during the day, but by dinner time your ready to call Pizza Hut and ask for an extra order of bread sticks to go with the large stuffed crust? Decision Fatigue. Yup. That little voice that tells you this is a good idea has a name. Throughout the day we make hundreds of small decisions, so by the end of the day we are literally tired of making decisions and so start making some really poor ones. Like Pizza Hut.
So rather than making a decision for dinner at the end of the day when you’re more apt to make a poor choice, decide what healthy meals you want to feed your family ahead of time and be prepared. Having all the ingredients for dinner like fresh meats and veggies is also good incentive to go ahead and make the meal rather than waste all that food you’ve already bought.
Pick a time when you can sit for a few minutes (Funny, right?? But seriously, pick one nap time a week or maybe a Sunday evening/afternoon), gather some recipes you’ve been wanting to try, or are tried and true favorites, and plan away.
If you’re into organizing in a big way and like systems, The Peaceful Mom has some great templates you can use. I myself go for the old school style. Meals on top, list of ingredients beneath. I try to plan based on our schedules, so for a busy night, crock pot it is. I also try to make one large meal a week for leftovers for either a busy evening or just to have a night off from cooking.
Once a week we make a big meal that we can freeze the leftovers from. Believe me, you’ll appreciate a stocked freezer of healthy options when you’re sick and don’t want to cook or there’s just no time to cook.
We’ve entered the picky eating phase of toddlerhood, so our current challenge is to find family friendly meals. I’ll add a few boxes of Annie’s Mac n
Cheese to the list for emergency back up….
I’d love to know your experiences with meal planning and your favorite healthy dishes!