Today I got a call from my sister and we were talking about food and we got on the topic of planning our meals and how hard it is to do.
It is hard to plan meals – it doesn’t always come easy. How many times do you find yourself hungry and wondering what you’ll make for dinner – and it is already dinner time?
I wish I had the magic answer. I don’t. But I do have some ideas to make it easier and help you not feel so overwhelmed.
1. Think in Food Groups.
If you want to create an official calendar style schedule, and find yourself staring blankly at an empty sheet of paper – think in groups.
Think: poultry, meat, vegetarian, leftovers, pasta, fish, and yes… pizza. That is 7 days right there. So all you have to do for the full year is come up with 48 poultry dishes, 48other meat dishes, 48non-meat dishes, 48 pasta dishes, etc. etc.
48 sounds like a lot, but don’t forget about repeats. So say for example 1 of your recipes is whole roasted chicken. You could have that once a month. Same with everything else. I offer two recipes which give suggestions on how to season and roast a chicken in my recipe list.
And so in the end, it’s not that much.
Breaking it down makes it feel so much more manageable. You just have to take the time to do it.
Here is another tip under this category. If it calls for an ingredient you don’t normally have on hand – flag the recipe with a red marker or a star. So when you check your calender before shopping, you will be clued in that you need to take special interest in that recipe.
2. Clean out the Fridge.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve found something shoved way in the back that had I remembered it, would have gladly eaten it for a meal. By taking regular inventory of what you already have, you just might be surprised how many times you forget what is there.
3. Write it Out.
If you don’t have a recipe box already, I recommend buying one. Only put in it recipes which were a success.
If you love a recipe no one else likes, keep it in another place. Use the recipe box for ideas when you or others in your house are feeling a bit undecided. You know, “What do you want tonight for dinner?” Answer: “I don’t know.”
By having a supply of only true and tested recipes – you will always come out a winner.
4. Schedule it In – Make it Fun with Kids.
I can tell you right now – you will not be overwhelmed with a desire to plan all your meals. I’m not saying you won’t do it, but it would be rare for someone to actively look forward to planning meals for a month or even a year.
That can change though. I’m a big supporter of teaching kids to cook while they are young. It is such a valuable tool that they will be able to use when they go off on their own -whether when they go to college or when they get married or find a place of their own.
Turn it into a monthly activity or a weekly one with your children. Plan the meals together. They will love having their opinions appreciated and respected. Actually, they’ll probably just enjoy telling you what to do.
Getting kids involved in the cooking process and serving process as well, will help round out the experience.
I do hope you have found these tips useful. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t follow your plans to the “T”, sometimes we are just too tired to cook, no matter how many easy recipes we know.
It happens to everyone!