Last week we talked about WHY you should be meal planning for a year and today we will talk about HOW to plan months of meals in minutes with four easy steps. Grab a pen and paper and let’s get started.
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Have you ever sat down to plan your meals for the week or month only to sit there and have your mind go blank? Like, “I know we like to eat but what do we eat”?
This is why we will be doing a pre-meal planning step here. So before you get started planning your meals there are a few things you need to do first. Remember I said that we were breaking down this whole process? You will need a few things before you start….
#1. Get a blank monthly calendar.
You will need a whole year calendar. Any one will work but it needs to be a monthly calendar and it needs to be big enough to write your meals for each date. Ones like these will below will work perfectly.
#2. Gather your recipes.
Make a list of your family’s staple meals. You know the ones that they like to eat and will eat whenever. Some of ours are things like, tacos, spaghetti, biscuits and gravy, steak, those kinds of things.
Get your favorite family recipes out or cookbooks.
And last but not least open up your Pinterest. Do you have a board solely dedicated to food you would like to make or recipes to try? Now is the time to finally put them to use.
#3. Gather ALL of your calendars.
By ALL of your calendars I mean ALL of them. Your work calendars, school calendars, kid’s extra curricular activities schedules ect. Before you plan any meals you will want to take note of your schedules and find a way to mark days differently. Maybe you want to use colored pencils or different colors of pens. Maybe you like sticky post its? What ever you feel like doing here is fine (get a little creative and make it fun). You will want to be able to determine late nights out of the house (soccer games, longer work shifts, practices whatever it is that will keep you away from the kitchen). These are good days for leftovers, freezer meals or crockpot meals. Do you see where I am going with this?
Now my husband works a rotation schedule so I like to look at his work schedule and mark days that he is working and when he is off. Since he takes leftovers to work for lunch I like to plan grilled meals or salmon when he is off so that he can enjoy it fresh too. Then I will make a casserole or bigger meal his first day back to work to insure he has a lunch.
This may take some time for you to find a rhythm that works for you and your family but it will get easier the more you do it I promise. This will most likely change monthly and yearly too. So you will need to do some readjustment when you need to as well.
Don’t get to hung up on this step as I said it will probably change with time. For now take one month at a time if you need to.
#4 Get Creative
To avoid the blank mind phase I like to get creative with my meals. I plan days of the week for certain types of meals or themes. This has helped me tremendously and really sped up the meal planning process. I hope this helps you too.
As you can see in the picture I have shared some of the ideas that I used with my meal planning. So when planning your meals if you use a theme for the day it will give you a good place to start thinking. For instance meatless Monday you can search meatless meals if you are coming up with a blank. Taco Tuesday you can get really creative with it or go plain Jane with the normal taco each week. I personally like to try new recipes and try out my cooking skills ( plus I like to have my kids expand what they will eat) so we might have fish tacos one week, chicken and lime tacos another, street tacos the next week and a taco casserole the following week. You can plan your meals to suit your family any way you like.
Another creative idea might be the ABC Meal plan.
If you use the ABC Meal plan you can fill in the extra days as leftover days.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. Meal planning doesn’t have to be boring. Cooking at home shouldn’t be boring! Get Creative and have some fun!
So get a blank calendar, gather your recipes, get all your schedules together and labeled and start getting creative. Come back next week and I’ll show you how to put all of post 1 and 2 together so your meal plan starts working for you (not the other way around).
Until next time!