Hey there, so did you know that Christmas (yes, Christmas…) is only a few weeks away? I can’t believe it… and while this is literally the day after halloween, the holiday season is coming (quickly). I like to try and meal plan especially this time of year for a variety of reasons:
- Saving cash | Meal planning allows me to stick to my meal plan, and prevent splurging when going to the grocery store.
- Holiday Festivities | There are so many invites and get togethers this time of year that all those sweets and dips can give me a ‘heavy feeling’. By planning out healthier meals through out this time, I am less likely to feel ‘food overload’ by the time New Years comes.
- Saving My Sanity | Don’t you feel like you’re already ‘on the go’ all.the.time now that the holiday season is coming? You’ve got parties to attend, gifts to buy, planning road trips, making your house feel welcome for guests arriving… there’s just so much to do! Meal planning can be an essential part of keeping some semblance of routine in your house (I know it does in ours) when life can feel crazy. Plus you know what’s for dinner, preventing that 4 o’clock dinnertime scramble we all get into at one time or another.
I spoke more about this yesterday on Facebook LIVE! You can catch that here. Well if I haven’t convinced you yet, then I don’t know how I will, but with a 5 month old here in our house, a two year old who thinks she’s 7 years old, and two girls in school I know this will help us stick to a routine a bit… and I won’t feel as bad sneaking in that extra brownie…
So here are my 5 tips for meal planning success:
- Easy Does It | Set yourself up for success right off the bat. Make simple meals this time of year. Don’t stress! Leave the fancier or more complex meals for when you have time! Maybe you don’t have plans this weekend? Maybe your Friday night looks free and you want to tackle that new recipe you found on Pinterest? GO FOR IT! Just think when one child has swimming class, another is in ballet, and you’ve got a parent-teacher meeting somewhere in between, this would not be the best night to try out a new dish with 15 steps. Think easy, think crock pot, think healthy.
- Take A Note | Keeping track of your meals is essential! Write your meal plan out somewhere you can see it quickly, like a calendar or in your agenda. That way you can remember if you need to defrost anything in advance. This also allows you to see if you’ve made this meal before, and how long ago that was. Plus by adding little stars beside, you can easily rate and remember if it was a successful meal.
- Check Your List Twice | It’s always a good idea to check your calendar for the week, check the general weather, and check your flyers (if you have time). That way you can choose to make meals that will make you feel satisfied after being busy all day. Think of if this way: Tuesday is going to be a cold rainy day, and you’re out all day. Wouldn’t coming home to a nice bowl of warm soup sound great?! Or how about this: I have to take my dog to the vet at 4:30, and after that I’m home for the night. I don’t want to eat late… so why not tacos! Meal planning around your life makes you actually want to cook it. Less waste (because you actually prepared the groceries you bought), and you saved some cash (because you decided to eat at home rather then grab takeout… again…).
- Keep It Handy | So you’ve meal planned – now what? Make sure to keep your recipes handy! There is nothing worse then being ready to tackle your ‘quick and easy’ dinner plan, and have to take 20 minutes to find where the recipe is! Print off any recipes you need, or write the location of the recipe beside the title when you meal plan (Ie Tuesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup – Fuchsia Freezer website). I like to add sticky tabs to the recipes I’m making from my cookbooks, print out the recipes I’ve discovered on Pinterest, and even created a board on my personal profile named “meals this week” – and pin the meals I’m making from there (just be sure to check out the pin before the meal to make sure the link works). I like to always have a running list of meal ideas, so when I come across something that sounds like it will work for our family, I add it on either my Pinterest board, or add it to my notes on my cell phone. I keep a running list of meals I would like to make, that way when I’m looking for something new to try, I already have a list at my fingertips.
- Come Together | Meal planning doesn’t have to be a daunting chore. Ask your kids to suggest ideas, and help out a dinnertime. My kids love helping make the salads, or chopping up some of the vegetables (with my supervision of course). Working together will make dinnertime a success, and ensure that you don’t feel exhausted by the time dinner is served. By working together, you’re also opening up opportunities to talk about your day, learn together(I ask my daughters for 5 carrots and 2 potatoes… how many vegetables is that?), and just bond over creating something together.
If you want to read more about meal planning (the basics 101: how to + a free printable) click the link and you will get more useful hints on how to make this a success in your own home. Do you meal plan already? If so, what keeps you going? Share in the comments below!