Meal Planning Ideas Week 3 has 6 tips and tricks to help get you started. Sharing methods for inspiration, ways to get new recipes, and help with saving those recipes!
I know meal planning can seem daunting if you haven’t tried it before. Or maybe you have and just bombed. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. No, seriously! I’m not kidding.
Make a list of all the meals you and your family enjoys eating. Spaghetti and meatballs, tacos, oven roasted chicken, and other easy family favorites. I try to make sure there’s variety. If I have spaghetti on Monday, I try not to have it Tuesday.
Varying the protein will ensure no repeats for the week, too. I check the final menu to see if I have two chicken recipes next to each other or two beef recipes. It’s usually two chicken recipes. I’m so guilty of that. And I usually forget about pork most nights of the week. And seafood is a rare occasion, but we have it sometimes. The issue with that is a whole other post.
Have theme nights!
When I started meal planning, I had a meatless Monday, slow cooker Tuesday, quick and easy Wednesday, salad Thursday, simple and satisfying Saturday, then from the heart Sunday. I’m sure that’s not your idea of theme nights. But that’s how I started menu planning with these like this.
Other themes could be like spaghetti Saturday, taco Tuesday, meat free Monday, pizza Friday. You get the idea. Those with kids will especially find these themes fun. They can get involved in the pizza making and what kid doesn’t love tacos!
And with tacos, think outside the box! I have a range of recipes from pancake tacos to Buffalo chicken tacos with blue cheese radish slaw. Having a theme recipe for every night of the week makes picking or finding recipes easier. It’s meal planning made easy!
Have it delivered!
No, I don’t mean your menu or your meals, though that’s one option. I mean recipes. Have new recipes delivered to your email. Yes, I know. I get enough email, too, but there are some that I skim through and get ideas for meal planning. Of course, I’m going to plug my own blog (subscribe here), but I get recipes from Epicurious, Food 52, Saveur, Gourmet Traveler, and Bon Appetit. There’s plenty of food blogs out there so let your fingers do some walking.
Now, sit down and think of all the products you purchase on a regular basis. Cabot cheese, Goya beans, Hidden Valley Ranch. They have newsletters with recipes and meal planning dinner ideas! And they’re products you already use and but so there’s no specialty ingredients to buy. They have great meal planning ideas for families.
Create a place or method of saving your new recipes.
I have two methods. I use Pinterest. Like, A LOT! I have a ton of recipes and ideas saved to a private Ideas board. When Pinterest started way back when, it was okay for finding recipe. Now, it’s my go to for everything. I wanted to make a winter coat for one of my dogs after seeing her shiver when we came in on cold days. Homemade dog coat pattern. Done. I wanted to get my hair cut after the pandemic allowed us to do so. Hair styles for medium length curly hair. Done. You see what I mean? So much out there now.
I also use the Microsoft To Do app to write down ideas for recipes that don’t have a recipe. It’s just an idea I thought of scrolling through Pintrest or my recipe emails. Initially it started with Wunderlist. It was a tip I received in my email about new products to help with blogging. Then Microsoft purchased Wunderlist, I think, and now it’s To Do. And it syncs on my phone and any computer I’m on. No, I’m not an affiliate. I just use the app ALL THE TIME.
Save those new recipes your family loves!
Save them and put them into rotation again later. There are some that I scheduled at least once a month because they are true family favorites. And if I make a new recipe that we love it gets added to that rotation. It’s fun to have a variety of fall back recipes when you are just not inspired to get creative with your menu. And that happens at times. It happens to me, too.
It would be fun to have like survey cards after dinner to see what people liked and didn’t like about a new recipes. They might help you understand your family’s finicky palettes and also help give you ideas on new recipes based on their responses. Plus, it’s another way to get them interested and have a vested interest in making dinner.
Plan for leftovers.
You’ve heard the saying, I’m sure. Cook once eat twice. So, cook a little extra chicken one night have chicken tacos or a salad for another night of the week. Cook up a large batch of ground beef and have spaghetti one night and tacos or sloppy joes another night. This is not only a great meal planning idea but also a great meal prepping idea, too. That’s a few posts I’ll get to later; meal prep.
These are also leftovers you don’t have to eat right now. We have made two life changing investments since we’ve been together. Well, there’s more, but these two are food related. We purchased a vacuum sealer. A really good one. We use it all the time! Not only because it’s cheaper to buy in bulk for meats, but I’ve used it for many other things! I’ll get to those things in another post.
But for this post, I have portioned out leftovers and froze the for quick lunches. There’s at least 2 meals of leftover lasagna in there along with some Bolognese. You can use these to add to the menu the following month!
I hope you are inspired to start menu planning or meal planning. If not a whole week’s worth, then try 2 days a week. Then three days, then four, etc. I plan 6 meals a week. Friday is our free for all day. And from what I could tell with my husband’s new schedule it will be a leftovers day. There’s no point in my cooking up something or ordering something when he gets home so late Friday night.
Bonus tip! Keep track of your family schedule and plan your meals accordingly! I am in the office 3 days a week. I plan easier meals on those days. On the days I work from home, it’s something not super difficult. But it is a recipe that requires s little more effort than I’m willing to give on the days I’m in the office. And the nights the hubs works super late? Whatever’s in the fridge to nosh on or maybe some chicken nuggets and tots from the air fryer.