Meal planning is hard to do for any person, a mother or a college student or a person starting to get healthy. It is worth it. I personally do it so I can save money on groceries and keep myself from going down the fast food lane every time I do not have something to make that night. I know some friends who do it to keep in shape or to prep meals so they have more time during the week to spend with their families. Whatever your reason is, meal planning is completely worth it and after a while, it becomes second nature, maybe even easy.
I take about three hours to meal plan and prep for a couple of weeks of meals, a month of snacks and frozen foods at a time. I have three people in my household that I cook the majority of food for. We all have very different taste and are trying to stay on the healthy side making meal planning a must. I usually can count on a couple on nights off if I add a simple pasta dish to the list for someone else in the family to make, and almost always a yummy option! It is not too hard but I still do have to make a list, one for stocking up for the month and then for the two weeks for meals.
At first, I just browse through Pinterest- really just have fun and scroll to your heart’s content! It is fun to find recipes that you might like to try and then some easy ones that you can make and freeze ahead or just finding healthier options.
After that, I plan my meals, just two weeks at a time. I try to make a couple meals in that time frame that are new to me or that are complicated to make, just for fun and to expand my recipe list. Then I include at least three easy meals, like pasta or a mix and bake dish that I know I can make on the run! Then remember to add at least one frozen or mystery night! I always love to have one night every couple of weeks where I just pop in a frozen meal from the store for a night off for everyone.
Here is how my List for the week looks:
Mon- Easy dish
Tues- Pasta dish
W- New dish
Th- old dish
Fri- Pasta dish
Sat- Easy dish
Sun- New dish
Mon- old dish
Tues- old dish
W- Frozen dish
Th- Pasta dish
Fri- Easy dish
Sat- old dish
Sun- old dish
Then it’s time for the grocery list! This is the part that can take up to two hours! You have to figure out what you are getting beforehand otherwise, it will be a couple weeks of grocery store trips for that one item you forgot for every meal that week. That might still happen, but with a bit of practice and you will have it down to a science! After you gather everything for your meals, remember to make a list for that month. Food for a month for my household is snacks and frozen fruit for smoothies and easy to make lunches and breakfasts. It is hard, but making these list will not only help you get food on the table you want but keep you from running around the grocery store gathering food you will not use!
Now you just have to stick with it! You can always move your meals around throughout your two weeks (and month list)! Just remember that you get to have yummy food!