Meal planning can save you a lot of time throughout the week and month, as well as money. If you are not used to sitting down at the beginning of the week and planning your meals, it can be a frustrating process. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Ask For Suggestions: Simply figuring out what to make for dinner can be harder than the cooking and cleaning up. It isn’t easy trying to think of something that everyone will like, and that you haven’t already ate three times in the last month. If you run out of ideas for what to cook, ask your family for suggestions. Getting them involved decreases your stress level and you are more likely to have food created that your family will also eat.
- Watch Cooking Shows: Watching the shows on the Food Network can be a great way to learn new cooking methods and techniques, inspire ideas for new recipes, and can simply be quite relaxing. If you haven’t already got a favorite cooking program or “TV chef,” tune in and see what new tips you can learn. My family and I watch a lot of the Food Network. From extravagant gourmet shows to quick, low ingredient one’s. There are tips and menu ideas we pick up from each of them.
- Experiment And Have Fun: Preparing your family’s meals doesn’t have to be a chore; it can actually be quite fun. As you plan your meals, experiment with new foods, flavors, and textures. If you normally have sandwiches for lunch, try wraps instead. If your family’s routine was stuck in a rut of hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and spaghetti, break out of that routine in a big way and try Pasta Primavera or a Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry. You’ll never know what your family will and will not like until you try it.
- Get Everyone Involved: One of the best benefits to meal planning is that you will have more family time. Studies show that families who eat meals together are happier and more connected. Get your family involved in the process, whether it is helping you cross items off the list at the grocery store, chopping vegetables, setting the table or washing the dishes. Everyone should be doing their part!
- Have Theme Nights: Since you are planning your meals and know what you will be having for dinner from one day to the next, you can get creative and have “Theme Nights”. If you are going to have a Chinese-inspired entrée, create a fun environment by setting out chopsticks and hanging paper lanterns. Having a Mexican dinner? You can find a piñata at a party supply store and fill it with a few small treats and let your kids have fun whacking it open.
It may take a few weeks, but sooner or later you will get into a rhythm of meal planning. You will find ways to add your family’s personality into the process, and that can add up to a lot of fun, family dinners.
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
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