It’s funny how quickly the hours fly by when you’re busy at work.
Before you know it, it’s 5 or 6 p.m. and your stomach is growling, but you haven’t given any thought to what to do for dinner.
How often do you throw up your hands at the end of the day and order take out?
It’s understandable, especially if you aren’t used to cooking at home or if you work long hours.
But cooking at home can work, if you plan ahead during your downtime. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a meal waiting at home in your slow cooker, or an already-prepped, easy-to-assemble dinner ready to put on the table?
It is possible! Follow these six steps for meal planning success:
Step 1: Schedule a time to plan
This is the KEY to meal planning success. Have a weekly time to plan meals. Make it enjoyable!
Mornings on a day off of work are often best so that you or someone else in the household has time to grocery shop later.
Step 2: Plan your meals
Be realistic. If you’ve never planned meals before, start slowly. Plan two or three meals for the week. As you become used to planning, increase the amount of meals. If you’ve never meal planned before, dinner is typically the best place to start.
Make sure you get your family calendar out when you plan meals. On a night when you work late or your kids need to be driven to activities, plan a quick, 10-20-minutes-to-the-table meal. It may be a good day to break out the crock pot or eat leftovers!
Your meal plan will determine your grocery list. Here’s how to develop your plan:
Tips and tricks for developing a meal plan
Step 3: Review your meal plan
When you planned your meals did you:
Step 4: Go shopping
If you plan your meals in the morning you can shop in the afternoon. Always take a list! Your meal plan will determine what foods are on your grocery list.
Before leaving home, check if you have any of the ingredients on your list already. Golden rule of healthy eating — never shop without a grocery list!
Advantages of a grocery list:
Organizing your list like your grocery store layout makes your trip more streamlined. Organize items by category — produce, dairy, meat, etc.
Step 5: Advanced prep
Take advantage of less crazy days to get some prepping done. Get ahead of the game. Look at your meal plan for the week.
On a less hectic day, can someone else:
This is a great way for others to help out in the kitchen!
Step 6: Organize for tomorrow
The night before, organize the food you are going to eat the following day.
The final step: Celebrate how awesome it feels to be organized!
Meal planning will quiet the questions about what to do for dinner (or breakfast or lunch, for that matter), save you money and help you eat healthier. Try it, and let us know your tips in the comments!
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