It’s not an uncommon story. The best laid meal plans can go awry. Life gets busy, and you find yourself picking up takeout for dinner again. We’ve all been there. But it doesn’t have to be like that! If you’re smart about it, planning out your weeknight dinners can be a cinch. And we’ve got the tips that will show you how.
1. Don’t Stop Looking For Recipes
The first step to meal planning is actually come up with a list of recipes you plan to make, but don’t stop there. The worst thing you can do for your meal planning is let it get boring. You won’t be motivated to make meals if all you have is recipes you’ve used a million times. Make some time each week to look for new recipe ideas to keep things interesting!
2. But Do Keep Up A Meal Planning Pattern
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every week. Make things easier on yourself and designate certain meal types for certain nights. Make one night pasta night, and another soup night, and so on.
3. Do Some Of The Prep Right After Shopping
We’ve already covered how to be smart about grocery shopping, but one thing that will bring you even closer to easy weeknight meal planning is more preparation. When you get home from the store, shop and seal your veggies in Ziploc containers or even cook meat. That way when you get home the next day after sitting in commuter traffic for an hour, your cook time is already cut way down and you’re more likely to stick to the meals you actually planned.
4. Don’t Overstock
Oftentimes when we get really hyped up about meal planning, we tend to buy A LOT of food. “I’ll totally eat more broccoli,” you say. Cut to a month later and you’re digging up half-rotten broccoli at the bottom of your fridge – or worse, trying to throw everything left in your pantry together into some weird Frankenstein meal. Don’t buy more than you’ll use! Figure out exactly how much you need for the week (or however long you’re planning for) and just buy that.
5. Do Use Up The Perishables First
The goes along with overshopping. Ever bought fresh fruit or meat and then forgot that you bought it until a week later when you realize (too late) that it’s expired? Such a waste – not only of the food, but all your time planning! So just make the meals that use those ingredients first.
6. Do Be Realistic About Your Time
If your schedule is busy, don’t pretend that you’ll suddenly discover an extra hour and a half every night to create some amazing meal. And that’s okay! Life is busy. There are plenty of great meals out there that don’t take much effort at all to plan or make. So don’t screw yourself over. Keep things simple!
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Freeze
We’ve been taught to think that frozen food is bad, right? Not true. At least not always. Freeze items you aren’t going to use right away – and better yet, make a double batch of whatever you whip up for dinner and freeze your leftovers! Then you have a backup meal plan that you’ll actually look forward to. You can’t make a meal easier than just taking something out of the freezer.
What are your tips for better meal planning? Tell us in the comments below! And remember, you can always find the makings for quick and easy meals in the Love With Food shop!