I have been meal planning for over ten years. Meal Planning is something that really helped me get past the “What’s For Dinner Tonight?” (Especially when I was living alone, because lets be honest cereal or nachos would be dinner if I didn’t plan ahead.)
The best success I have had with meal planning is making a plan with dinners and potential breakfast/lunches. Then I add some extra choices for dinner. Sometimes you have pork chops with mushroom rice planned for dinner but you really just want tacos.
1. Take inventory of what you have in your fridge and freezer. I do this by jotting down a quick list on a notepad of what meat, vegetables and fruits you have on hand and keep in mind when it will go bad. This is a good time to do a quick clean out of the fridge.
2. Think about what you want to eat for the next week or two – depending on how long you are meal planning for and make a list of the dinners you want. Right now my sister and I are finding it better to do week by week. (I have meal planned for a month before when wanting to do a big shopping trip.)
3. Write down any new recipes you want to try (I normally have at least one if not two or three). Depending on your lifestyle it may only be possible to try a new recipe one night a week when you have a little more time. Keep that in mind when deciding what you want to eat.
4. Now take the inventory list and match it up with what you want to make for the week – new recipes and your normal meals. This makes it easy to see what you have on hand and what you will need to buy.
5. Decide what you want to make on which days. Sometimes I do this and sometimes I just get the groceries and then decide every couple of days what to make for the next few days. Make a list of the meals and put it somewhere that it is easy to see – such as on the fridge.
6. Go grocery shopping. Once you get home freeze any meats you aren’t using in the next few days and try to organize your fridge. I like to have all my snacks in one area in the fridge for easy access.
7. Enjoy a less stressful week of trying to figure out what’s for dinner.
Meal planning may not come naturally to you but the more you do it the easier it becomes. I save a lot of my weekly meal plans so I can look back on them when I am struggling with what to have for dinner to give me some new ideas. Sometimes you forget about something you made a couple months ago that you loved and looking back helps jog your memory.