4 Easy Steps to Simplify Meal Planning

meal plan

As schools and some sports start back up, many parents find themselves trying to juggle jobs, school, extracurriculars, homework, and everything else. At times, keeping everyone fed in the chaos can seem like an overwhelming task. Hearing the question, “What’s for dinner?” strikes panic in moms and dads everywhere! It doesn’t have to, though. With a little effort and organization, you won’t dread meal time anymore.

Find Out What Your Family Likes

Knowing what your family likes to eat might seem obvious, but it isn’t always as straightforward as it seems! Take a few minutes and make a list of all of your family’s favorite meals and snacks. Ask everyone in your household to add their favorites to the list – this is a great family project!

No matter what, don’t lose this list! It will become your master list, and you can refer back to it anytime you need some inspiration. Once you have your master list ready, sort meals into categories based on how long they take to prepare. It’s convenient to have a handful of set-it-and-forget-it meals ready for jam-packed days.

plannerKnow Your Schedule

Take an honest look at your schedule so you know what to expect. Write out your weekly calendar and decide what nights you need a quick and easy meal versus a more leisurely dinner. If your daughter does gymnastics every Tuesday from 7 to 8, you need a plan for tackling dinner! Decide for your family if that means eating before or setting the crockpot for after class. If your family moves straight from school to extra-curricular activities and stays on-the-go until 8 pm on Thursdays, plan to pack a cooler. Put pencil to paper and determine what you need to plan around regularly.

Match the Meals to the Schedule

Now that you have your list of meals and your schedule, it’s easy to see what you have time to cook on which days! Pick and choose what sounds good and write it all down. Be sure to include breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.

 

Put the Plan into Action

Having a meal plan requires a grocery plan! Once you have your list of meals for the week, make a list of the groceries needed. Using a grocery app for this step can save you a ton of effort AND money! It is cookingincredibly simple to walk through your kitchen and add the necessary items to your cart while verifying what you need for the week.

It takes practice to get in the habit of looking at your plan (and sticking to it), but it’s certainly worth the effort. Each week you write out a plan, save it! To simplify your life even more, create 3-4 weeks worth of meal plans and cycle through them. Last but not least, give yourself permission to be flexible. Life happens, and things change! The upside to having a plan is that you know what’s in the fridge that needs used before it goes bad.

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