How many times a week do your kids ask you what’s for dinner? How often can you give them confident replies? If you’re always fussing about what to cook or eat the whole week, don’t fret because there’s a solution for you.
Meal planning. Have you tried this?
A meal plan is a set number of meals to cook for the rest of the week. Depending on your daily schedule, the set meals per day could be breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Snacks can be added if you have kids at home.
If this is the first time you’ll do meal planning (finally!), you’ll be working on three major tasks: think of dishes you’re family would want to eat; manage your weekly food budget; buy the ingredients.
This may already seem tedious to you but there are people who even plan meals for the rest of the month. And that’s a fact.
Preparing meals for the family should not always feel like a chore. If you think of it as a mini-kitchen adventure, it would most likely feel like one.
Can planning meals be real fun? If you still think this activity is exhausting and even boring (it’s definitely not), then read on and find out how to make meal planning more fun!
Fun Ways to Plan Your Meals
Get yourself a pretty planner
Why is this important? You’ll be looking at your planner every day. If you use a regular lifeless notepad, would it inspire you to write menus and shopping lists?
If you feel like being crafty, get a plain journal notebook and jazz it up. Your meal planning adventures are important so might as well document them in a planner that anyone would enjoy browsing.
Display a creative menu board
This menu board will not only announce the food you’ll prepare for the day, but it will also spark excitement from everyone in the household. Whether you opt the classic chalkboard or a DIY one, it’s totally up to you.
There are lots of inspiration from Pinterest. Take the best idea that suits your personality. Also, look around and see if this menu board can be an interesting accent to your kitchen.
You can ask your kids to help you out in this tiny project. Be creative and have fun!
Bring the rest of the family to participate
You’re not the only one to eat all the meals you plan to cook. So it’s best to make this whole meal planning thing a family activity. Let them suggest dishes they want to have for the week.
Listen to your children, especially if they are picky eaters. Allowing them to choose the food they prefer won't keep you guessing. It will also give them that sense of belonging if you let them be part of the planning.
Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, what's next?
Another way to make planning fun is setting themed meals for the rest of the week. You all know about Taco Tuesday. But that doesn't mean you can't come up with your own Tuesday theme.
Don't think about the theme name, that's secondary. What you need to think of first is the main ingredient that will be in all of the meals you'll cook for a specific day. Or something that will be the core of your meals.
For example, on Friday, the star ingredient would be salmon. Then on Saturday, the core dish would be soup. So from breakfast to dinner, there would be soup on the menu.
You can also get inspiration from around the world! Have a Teriyaki Tuesday, Italian Thursday, or Sunday in Spain (think: paella).
Highlight a special dish per week
When you plan meals, don't stress out about creating a gourmet type of dish. You're not running a restaurant so relax. But this doesn't mean there's no space for an exciting dish on your menu.
Pick a day when everyone's at home and there are no other big tasks to do. Schedule your specialty on that day. It could also be something you saw on Pinterest that you're cooking for the first time.
Benefits of meal planning
Are you getting excited to start your meal planning adventure? Once you've started and you feel overwhelmed by the scheduling, budgeting, and shopping you do, just remember the benefits you get from this activity.
Meal planning lets you eat healthy. This is the most significant benefit for you and your family. You can include as many nutritious food as you want in your menu. If you or anyone in the family is following a diet, you are in control of what's in your every meal.
It saves you money. Think of how you're cutting down wasted food and ingredients. There are times some ingredients are tucked in your fridge for weeks that you've totally forgotten about them. It can also lessen your takeout orders you often have on nights when you don't have anything to cook at home.
You'll stop wasting food ingredients. Since you have a plan, you will only buy what's written on your grocery list. You know you'll cook all the meat and veggies you'll buy. The sauces and spices won't reach their expiration dates since they'll be used from time to time.
Meal planning will minimize your stress. Not knowing what to cook every single day can make you anxious. With meal planning, there would be no more uncertain answers to "What’s for dinner?” and no more unplanned and out-of-budget trips to the restaurant.
It also saves you lots of time. Just thinking what to prepare for lunch may take time. But when you’ve got everything planned out, you can cook your food in bulk, freeze them, and heat them up whenever they’re scheduled on your week’s menu.
Ready to create your own meal plan? You can check out meal planning apps and websites if you need menu ideas and tips on how to ease your way through your week-long preps. Don’t forget the ever-reliable Pinterest! There are tons of workable ideas there.