This week’s post is by Christine Luken.
There are plenty of great reasons why regular meal planning should make it on to your New Year’s Resolution List. Meal planning helps you save money, eat healthier, stress less, spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family. These are all things that we want, so why do we resist doing it?
I think what holds many people back from meal planning is thinking that, in order to do it “right,” they have to plan a month in advance, spend every weekend batch cooking and freezing, AND be super organized. Sure, you can start that way if you want to, but for most folks it’s easier to begin gradually rather than cannonballing into the deep end. So, here are some baby steps, tips, and tools to get you started on your meal planning adventures.
- Plan a week of dinners. Look at your calendar for the next week and plan your dinners based on what you’ve already got on hand in the fridge, pantry, and freezer. Save more complicated, labor intensive meals for weekends or other non-busy days. Plan on slow cooker meals or meals that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less for busy nights. Next week, try planning out ten days to two weeks in advance. Before long, you’ll be on a monthly meal planning schedule. (Which is great, because you only have to do it 12 times a year vs. 52 times a year!)
- Make a double batch of a family favorite meal and freeze half of it. It doesn’t take twice as long to make a double batch of a recipe! In fact, it usually only takes a few extra minutes. You’ll be grateful two or three weeks from now when you’re short on time. You’ll have a great meal you can dump frozen into the crockpot before heading to work and come home to a wonderful smelling house and dinner ready to serve! I highly recommend a dish like beef stew, spaghetti sauce with meatballs, chili, or vegetable soup for your first freezer meal.
- Stock up on freezer cooking supplies next time you’re at the store. If you don’t have plenty of zipper freezer bags (quart and gallon size) and plastic containers in various sizes for freezer cooking, be sure and stock up so you have no excuses.
- Search Pinterest or Google for good freezer cooking and batch cooking recipes. It’s more fun to meal plan if you have recipes you’re excited to try!
- Check out these great Meal Planning tools! If you’d like a FREE blank meal planning calendar or freezer inventory sheet, just click here to download. If you’re ready to really get serious about meal planning, invest a few dollars in my e-book, Discover the Magic of Meal Planning. (Kindle Unlimited members get it FREE!)
Whether you’re trying to save money at the grocery store, eat healthier, or spend more time with your family, meal planning can help you with those resolutions. Here’s to a Happy New Year and Happy Meal Planning in 2015!