How often does dinner time come and your family starts asking the famous “What’s for dinner” question? And as much as you hate to admit it, you don’t have an answer. Such a bad feeling, isn’t it? It doesn’t help that you are also starving and asking yourself the exact same question.
Oh to have a chef, right? Though I am almost certain having a chef will never happen, it doesn’t hurt to dream. I would have a chef over a house keeper any day. What about you, which would you rather have if you were ever given the choice?
Well, the time has come to wake up from our dreams and actually know what we are having for dinner tonight before dinnertime comes around again. I want to show you how to simply make a meal plan. A plan that works for you and your family for a month.
Yes, I said a month. Does a month sound like a long time to make plans for dinner? Though a month isn’t necessary, I like planning our meals for the month to alleviate adding it to my weekly to-do list.
Making a Monthly Meal Plan
Though making a meal plan takes some time, there is one benefit that outweighs the time you have to take to make it, and that would be the stress that comes along with the daily question, “What’s for dinner”. Once you do it for a couple months, you will love it because you are taking the guesswork out of dinner – and who doesn’t want that?
Ready to know what you will be cooking every night? I’m ready to show you how to make a meal plan. Before you begin, there are some things you will need, let’s go over them now.
- a pencil
- some paper
- recipe sources
- a meal planner
- your calendar
Let’s go more in-depth with a couple of these. First, recipe sources. Where do you get your recipes from? Cookbooks? Favorite bloggers? Friends? Pinterest? Where ever it is, be sure and have a good amount of recipes handy for planning your meals for the next month. Pinterest is good for being able to make a board for each week of the month and when you do it like this, it makes searching for recipes a lot easier.
My suggestion – once you find the recipes you have decided on for the month, keep your recipes together. Searching for a recipe later is not fun, trust me on this one. Whether you find your recipes on Pinterest, in a cookbook, or even a favorite blog, remember to keep your recipes all together.
Another thing I mentioned that you need in order to create a meal plan is your calendar. You need your calendar for two reasons; first, to see what activities you have for the coming month. And the second, to write down what you plan on cooking.
The last thing to go into more depth about is my secret weapon. My secret weapon for meal planning is a meal planner. My meal planner has twelve months all together, I find this beneficial so I can use the prior months as a reference when I am stuck and not too sure what to make. It also has a perforated section to make your grocery list, that way while you are planning your meals for the month you will also be able to write down what you need for each meal. Then, you are ready to go shopping. My suggestion, before you leave to shop at the store, shop in your pantry first. You may be surprised how much you already have.
Now that we know what we need to meal plan, let’s go over why meal planning is so important. As with most things in life, the more prepared we are for things the smoother things tend to run. And with dinner, if we don’t plan for it we either spend money not in our budget for take-out or it is a dinner free-for-all once again.
Another great thing about meal planning happens to be freezer cooking. Once you decide which nights will be your busy nights for the month you will be able to decide what meals you can cook in advance to be better prepared.
The benefits of freezer cooking are incredible, check out this link to learn more about my eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Freezer Cooking.
Things to keep in mind while planning your meals:
Be sure to not plan 5 chicken meals all in one week. Your family will grow very tired of chicken. You can always theme each day of the week to make it easier to come up with ideas to cook. Here are some suggestions for themes:
- No Meat Monday
- Taco Tuesday
- Pasta Wednesday
- Chicken Thursday
- Fend For Yourself Friday (leftovers)
- Savory Saturday
- Crockpot Sunday
Meal Planning helps you no longer dread the age old question that you have heard the same time every day for as long as you can remember. Being one step ahead always makes your evening run more at ease. And, now that I have shared with you the items you need to have a successful meal planning session, in addition to why meal planning is important, and even my secret weapon, you are all set to meal plan for your family. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.
Don’t forget to check out The Ultimate Guide to Freezer Cooking eBook. It gives you step-by-step details on how to freeze meals so your evenings aren’t as rushed.