While it may seem easier to just figure out your meals on the fly sometimes, taking the time to do some meal planning for the week really does have its benefits. It can cut down on your grocery shopping time and prep time, give you more control over portion sizes and ingredients, and ultimately get you to make healthier choices for you and your family.
Whether you are new to meal planning or are looking to change up your routine, there are always things that you can do to make it a more interesting or easier process. Here are our 5 meal planning tips for the week.
1. Get Inspired
It can get boring planning the same few meals all the time. Yes, a lot of kids are picky eaters and will only eat a handful of foods, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat the exact same thing every night! Try devoting a little time each week to search for new recipes, whether they are online or come directly from friends and family. With so many professional and at-home cooks out there ready to share their expertise, you never know where you’ll find your next favourite meal!
2. Have Theme Nights
With so many kinds of meals to choose from, it can be difficult to decide what you want to have each day. To help you narrow it down, consider having a different theme night for every day of the week. You could have Monday Meatloaf, Taco Tuesdays, Waffle Wednesdays…the choices are endless!
3. Make a Little Extra
If you don’t usually have a lot of leftovers for lunches or busy weeknights, then try planning for leftovers. This means specifically cooking too much for you and/or your family to consume in one meal, and then package the leftovers in the fridge or freezer. You could put them all into one big container and have everyone serve themselves as needed or separate them into individual portions for quick and easy reheating in the oven or microwave.
4. Prep Food in Your Spare Time
Have a free hour or two here and there? Consider devoting that time to prepping your food for the week. There are lots of different things that you can do to start preparing for your meals well in advance, like browning meat, shredding cheese, and washing, drying, and chopping vegetables. That way when it comes to mealtime, all you need to do is throw everything together before popping it in the oven.
5. Cook Parts of Your Meals – And Make Them Do Double Duty
While prepping the food can save you a lot of time on busy nights, you can save even more by cooking components at the same time. For example, you can easily cook up a batch of tomato sauce while you’re chopping vegetables. You can use it right away in one of your meals for the week and then freeze the rest for future ones. You may also consider cooking up a chicken or steaks for dinner that night and then using them in a stir fry with your prepped veggies later in the week.