How to Make Meal Planning a Little Easier
At the end of a long day, the hardest question to ask or be asked is “what’s for dinner?” Meal planning is not as big of a commitment as you may think, and it can save you both time and money. There are some ways to make meal planning a breeze.
Plan Meals Together
A good way to make meal planning easier is to do it together as a family. You can make this plan at the beginning of the week or month depending on what works better. This way, everyone can have a say on the meal selections, and everyone can have their favorite meals show up at least once throughout the month or week. Planning in advance will help you adjust according to your schedule based on how much time and preparation different meals require. For busy days, crockpot meals or meals that cook in 30 minutes or less are helpful. You can also build in days you may want to go out to eat or order takeout.
Use a Delivery Service
Using a meal kit delivery service is one way to make planning and preparing your weekly meals easier. With many meal delivery services, they will send you a box of all of the ingredients you will need to cook a meal, along with the recipe instructions to go with it. You can customize how many servings you want to order and can select what meals you want to make before they ship. These services will cost you, however, and many of them have a limited selection of meals to choose from. The convenience of not having to go to the grocery store or find recipes is worth it to many people.
Use the Same Basic Ingredients
Using the same basic ingredients throughout your meal planning is a good way to stay organized and plan. A good place to start doing this is in your spice drawer. If you cook a lot of Italian food, keep Italian seasoning, oregano, and basil around. If you like using chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, or other things to spice up your food, always keep those in hand. The same goes for larger ingredients. If your family loves chicken, buy chicken breasts or tenderloins in bulk and keep them in your freezer. Using the same ingredients over and over will make it easier for you to plan and always have them around.
Do Some Remodeling
Remodeling can make you proud of your home and make cooking in your kitchen a joy again. You do not even have to do a full remodel to get back some of this joy. If your appliances have been causing you trouble or are not working the same way as when you got them, swapping them out for new appliances might be worth it. Adding more counter space for cooking preparation may make cooking easier and more fun. An energy-efficient dishwasher can make cleaning up from cooking a breeze. Even adding a fresh coat of paint or a new backsplash can give your kitchen a new look and make you enjoy being there.
Plan Your Grocery Store Trips
Wandering aimlessly around the grocery store trying to figure out what you want to buy is a surefire way to waste time, and walk out missing some of the things you need. Before you go food shopping, having a plan for the meals you want to make will make these trips a lot smoother. Before you go to the store, take inventory of your pantry and fridge to see what ingredients you already have that can be used in the recipes you’re making throughout the week. That way you don’t buy extra things you already have.
Build a Repertoire of Go-To Meals
If you’re new to cooking or you have been cooking for a long time, you probably have a mental list or inventory of meals you like to make and eat and that your family likes as well. Write these meals and the recipe instructions down and create your own collection of go-to options for dinner. This can save you time because you are probably familiar with the recipe and its ingredients, making them easier to shop for and easier to prepare. It will also make sure that everyone at your dinner table already likes the meals you are preparing.
Use Portion Calculators
When you’re planning your weekly meals, using a portion calculator can help you make the right amount of food for your family. When you are working from a recipe, it will likely list how many people that recipe will feed. If you are trying to feed more or fewer people than the recipe prescribes, you may be wondering how to adjust the recipe accordingly. Portion calculators can help you figure out the size of a serving for a recipe you’re working on. Making the right portions can help you reduce food waste. Using portion calculators can also help you make more food than you need if you want to plan to have leftovers later in the week.
Reuse When Possible
A good way to plan meals is to get the most out of the ingredients you are purchasing. For instance, if you pick up some tortillas to make tacos, see if you can use the remaining tortillas from one night to make a different recipe another night. This way you can get the most for your money by buying a package of something that you can use multiple times throughout the week. There are many recipe websites that can help you plan for reusing ingredients. This economical choice will also save you time when it comes to meal planning.
When it comes to meal planning, you don’t need to spend hours over the stove worrying about whether the recipe will turn out. By sticking to your favorite meals and planning your grocery shopping you will be able to save time and money. Before you know it, meal planning will be a fun ritual for you and your family.
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