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Meal planning. You’ve heard its benefits have been touted by nearly every one, but something always holds you back. It’s much easier to stand in front of the full refrigerator trying to figure out what to make. Right?
I’m not going to lie–I don’t always plan my meals out before hand. I’m as guilty as anyone of thinking that I’ll just get ingredients I like and then I’ll decide when it’s time to make something. Buuuuut, I’ve also learned that’s when we waste the most food and I spend way too much time deciding when I don’t actually have the time to be deciding. I need a meal NOW!
So, why do we do this to ourselves? I think one reason is because figuring out what to feed your family day in and day out is daunting. Meal planning is hard. Well, I mean, it isn’t hard, as much as it can be time consuming. And you know the most time consuming part? Deciding what to make!
That’s the trick, right? The deciding part. Which is why having a system in place makes it sooooooooo much easier, and faster and less exhausting. Because when you do go to the store, you know what to buy, don’t waste ingredients and can actually make meals faster because you know what you’re doing.
Here are 3 things that I’ve done to make meal planning easier and faster:
This is helpful for lots of reasons. One, it helps you narrow down your choices, so it’s not as hard to decide. Also, you’re more likely to be using similar ingredients, so you’ll waste less food. My favorite though is to use it to learn about food from countries around the world.
Here are a few ways you can choose a theme to make meal planning easier.
This isn’t the same as a theme. There are several meals that use the same ingredients but are very different from each other–in just about every way!
I had used this method before, but I didn’t really do it consistently until I found the Cook Once, Eat All Week Cookbook by Cassy Joy Garcia. Seriously, it’s one of my favorites ever!
Her method is simple–each week there is a protein, starch and vegetable and 3 meals that they make (plus bonus dinner options) that are diverse, healthy and made fresh. Honestly, when I first started using it I didn’t even prep cook. I just started each recipe from scratch and it worked fine.
You can easily incorporate this method, either with the cookbook, or on your own. Just pick your protein, starch and vegetable and look up recipes that use them.
Instead of scouring the internet, or all of your cookbooks, for meals just pick one source. This dramatically cuts down on the decision making necessary for planning. One friend told me she only makes meals from Rocco DiSpirito’s website. So, find a food blog or website you think looks good, or pull our your favorite cookbook and stick with it–at least for a week.
When it comes to meal planning, having that plan be simple and repeatable is key to making it as painless as possible. I hope these tips help make your meal planning faster and easier for your family.
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