Good old meal planning. When done correctly and consistently, it can save you time, money, and stress — but sticking to a meal plan can be tricky. It takes planning and dedication. Don’t worry, I’ve got some tips to help you be successful.
Meal Planning Basics
There are no strict rules for meal planning, it’s more about finding what works for you and your family. For me, making a monthly meal plan works best — I couldn’t keep up with weekly planning. I also find that planning a month at a time allows me to vary my meals and proteins for effectively.
Do I stick to my meal plan?
Mostly. About 80 to 90% of the time, I’ll make exactly what’s on the plan. Other times, I’ll make the same meat, but alter the specific meal. Sometimes, I forget to defrost meat or grab the right ingredients. In those instances, we have breakfast for dinner or BFD (these are my kids’ favorite nights).
I will give myself a break and write order out on my meal plan about twice a month and that seems to curb the impromptu ” I don’t feel like cooking, let’s order something “
Tips for Sticking to a Meal Plan
Keep it simple
This is especially important when you’re first starting out. Stick with basic meals and family favorites. Give yourself quick wins, then branch out when you’ve got more of a routine.
Plan Food Your Family Wants
Make cooking dinner a love language for your family. When your kiddo is looking forward to having tacos, you’ll be motivated to make tacos. When your partner wants chicken noodle soup, you’re more likely to make it.
Display your menu
Having a visual reminder of your meal plan can make it more present in your mind. Plus, you can direct your family members to your menu board when they’re asking what’s for dinner.
Use a whiteboard, print a menu board, or simply write it on a piece of paper and tape it to a wall.
Check your meal plan often
Just because you wrote a list of meals does not mean you’re done. You still need to shop for and defrost ingredients.
Make checking your meal plan a part of your morning or evening routine. Set reminders for defrosting food. Create grocery lists based on your plan.
Use what you have
Meal planning is cost effective because you’re buying exactly what you need, but if you’re buying every single ingredient, it can still add up. Stick to meals you’ve got the ingredients for so those items don’t expire just sitting in your pantry.
Plan for Leftovers
Cook once, eat twice. Make sure you communicate to family members that the leftovers are not for their midnight snack or lunch.
Make Meal Planning a Routine
At the end of every month, I meal plan for the following month. I write “Meal Plan” on my to do list. It’s become routine and if I’m a few days late planning, I really flounder.
Give yourself grace
I rarely schedule BFD (breakfast for dinner), PB & J (peanut butter and jelly), or grilled cheese in my meal plan, but we usually have these at least one evening a month when I drop the ball.
Sticking to a Meal Plan
Sticking to a meal plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but it takes time and dedication. Give yourself grace, set reminders, add tasks to your list. It will get easier and soon you won’t know how you ever made dinner without a meal plan.
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