Family Health

Simple Family Meal Planning at Home

Jan 5 • 2015

Weekly meal planning has a lot of benefits for the entire family. Not only does it eliminate having to decide what to cook after a long day, but it also makes it easier to grocery shop, keep meals healthy, and enjoy a delicious dinner with family. If you’re looking to improve your meal planning process, try implementing these tips.

Plan ahead and stay organized.

Spend some time looking up new recipes to try in upcoming weeks and create a system for storing those recipes. Keep it simple and use whatever works best for you, whether that’s printing them out and placing in a binder or saving them on your computer. Once you’ve compiled recipes you want to try, put them on a calendar. You can do this online or on paper, whatever is easiest. Think through the meal preparation and how each recipe fits in best with the requirements of the day. If you’re looking at extracurricular activities for the kids that make one night of the week especially busy, one of the simpler recipes that doesn’t take a long time to cook might be a great choice.

Prep right away.

Once you get home from the grocery store, prepare as many items as you can ahead of time. Chop and roast vegetables, brown sausage, and wash fruits so they will be ready to use for your next recipe. Similarly, if you know you’ll be using a similar ingredient for multiple meals, don’t hesitate to cook components of different meals together. Cook tomato sauce for spaghetti tonight, but make enough to spread on homemade pizza later in the week. You’ll be surprised how much time this saves you.

Try theme nights.

By going for a theme on certain nights of the week, it can make planning a bit simpler. It can also be a great way for kids to get involved with recipe suggestions. For some families, themed nights are what they look forward to the most. Choose regional cuisine themes like Italian or Mexican, or go with a theme that focuses on a specific food item like fish or pork.

Don’t forget the leftovers.

When laying out your calendar for the week, don’t forget about leftovers. Depending on what you have scheduled, different courses from different days might easily combine for a new take. It also allows you to have something quick and easy for busy nights or unexpected situations. Don’t hesitate to freeze leftovers as well and pull them out a few weeks later.

What are your favorite meal planning tips? Share them with us in the comments.