I shared these five tips in my newsletter this week for Solid Strength, and have gotten such good feedback from them, I thought maybe more people could use a few simple tips to make the meal planning process a bit less intimidating. I like to cook. I like to bake. I even like to grocery shop. What I dislike however, is all of the prepping, strategizing and budgeting that goes into meal planning. Yet, I know without this crucial step, my family's meals will be more expensive, less healthy and ultimately, more work for me. PLUS, Amanda makes it even less difficult with the rebirth of her Meal Plan Monday posts.
Here are my top 5 Tips for Meal Planning:
- Set a date. Choose which day or night of the week that you will set aside to develop the menu, check the pantry and refrigerator for inventory, write the list and do the shopping. Be consistent with the day or night and time. The more consistent you are with your designated day/night, the more it will become a habit and the easier it will become.
- Choose a method. I am very old-school. I use good ole' fashioned paper and pen/pencil/crayon. I sit in front of my computer and go to my favorites websites to browse recipes, with my huge stack of recipes sitting next to me on the desk (I really should get a recipe box). Others I know use apps. This seems to be so new age to this old fashioned gal, but I do see it's effectiveness and its ease of sharing. Regardless of your method - own it. Know what works best for you and what you will be most successful with.
- Have a rating scale. To please those whom you are feeding, I find it's important to have a rating system. Choose whatever scale you want - 1 through 10, 5 stars, 2 thumbs up - anything your family can use to say how much they loved it, or maybe not. This way you will start building a base of tried and true recipes that can be regulars in your meal rotation. I am always trying new ones, but it's nice to have a few that you know are winners and will please all.
- Have a few go-tos. As beautiful as your color-coded excel spreadsheet looks and as glittery as the stickers make the menu, and as genuine your intentions are, life happens. Schedules collide. Appointments are made. Practices run late. Meetings are longer than anticipated. Sometimes your perfectly planned menu has to be deviated from due to life. This is why it's important to have a few easy go-tos. Things you can resort to instead of the scheduled meal when you run out of time to prepare it. My family likes cereal, granola with yogurt, oatmeal, peanut butter sandwiches or breakfast burritos. It's a pretty bad week when I don't have those staples on hand, so I can almost always rely on these as my go-tos.
- Give yourself grace. This relates to #4, but is focused more on your reactions to the circumstances of #4. Remember who you are making these meals for. You are not doing it to show your friends up. You are not in competition with your neighbor about who has the best family dinners. Nor are you going to earn the respect, love, admiration and applause of your family. Nor is your family rejecting you or criticizing your positions as care taker and cook if they cannot make it to dinner. Your worth or acceptance has nothing to do with their reaction to the meal. You are making meals for Jesus. Matthew 25:40
The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'.