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How to Meal Plan for Your Family and Make Life Easier

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Does it feel like dinner time is a constant struggle for you? Ever since I became a mom it sure has been for me. Meal planning was a total game changer. It freed up more time for me as a mother, cut down on the day to day stress, and actually helped make cooking dinner fun for me again.


To be honest, meal planning was always something I avoided because it just seemed so daunting to me. Boy was I wrong! Today I am sharing with you how I meal plan, tips and tricks I've learned along the way, and what I recommend avoiding.

Why Should You Meal Plan?

  1. It cuts down on trips to the grocery store. You guys, before meal planning, I was constantly running to the store probably 3-4 times a week for little things I needed. By planning ahead of time, I knew what I was going to make for the week and was able to make a list of everything I would need. That means one grocery run and I'm DONE!
  2. It takes away the stress of figuring out what to make each morning. Every morning after feeding my daughter breakfast, I would always ask myself what I would make for dinner that night. I was stare at my fridge, my cabinets, and rack my brain for something easy I could whip up. It took up SO MUCH TIME and made it into such a chore. It is a complete game changer being able to look at a menu you previously created and already know what you'll be making.
  3. You save money! What happens when you don't know what to make for dinner? You forget to think of something ahead of time and end up ordering take out multiple times a week. At least, that's what ended up happening in my home. We were spending almost $100 dollars some weeks on take out alone! I also cut my grocery bill by about $50 each week because I know what I actually need to buy!
  4. It helps you loose weight and eat healthier. Less takeout = less calories.
  5. It keeps a record of amazing meals you've made. Do you ever find yourself uninspired when it comes to making dinner? I know I used to make the same meals over and over because I didn't have time to think about what I've made in the past. This keeps a record of what you have made and loved!

[caption id="attachment_2339" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Better-as-Us-Weekly-Meal-Planner-1.jpg Click the Image to Download My Meal Planner for FREE[/caption]

How I Meal Plan

  1. Pick a date a week to sit down for 20 min and plan. So far, this day has changed for me depending on my schedule for the week. My favorite day so far as been planning on Fridays since I HATE grocery shopping on the weekends.
  2. Look at your schedule for the upcoming week. On my meal planning day, I look at my schedule for the following week. If I know my family won't be eating at home certain days, I mark that on my meal planning menu.
  3. Gather Inspiration. Once you know how many dinners you will be making, start gathering inspiration! Look at your past meals you've loved, you can find my personal favorites, here. Do some searching on Pinterest to see what sparks your interest (if you want to see my recipe board, click here). You can also follow my weekly meal planning journey and see my menu each week through my Instagram Stories.
  4. Pencil in Your Dinner Choices. I use a meal planner I created to write down what I'm making for dinner each night, as well as items I still need to buy. You can download it here. Before you write down what you are making, here are some things to consider before you do:
    • Do you have a crazy schedule one day? Make sure the recipe is easy.
    • How much leftovers will the meal make? Do you need some for lunches the following days?
    • Do you have certain items needed for the recipes that are starting to go bad? Make sure to pencil those recipes in sooner rather than later.
  5. Make your shopping list. Once you have decided what you are making for the week, go through recipe by recipe and write down items you need to purchase from the store.
  6. Go grocery shopping. I like to do this the same day as possible. It helps me feel so accomplished and well set up for the following week. Plus, it helps me remember items that I need so I don't have to constantly look at my list.


Tips & Tricks

  1. Pencil in Your Plans. Life happens you guys. There have been times I was planning on making dinner, yet we end up going to my mom's house. Last week I didn't plan on how much food it would make each time, so we ended up with so many leftovers. I am not one to waste food so one night we just had a leftover night instead of cooking. Nothing is set in stone!
  2. Freeze Leftovers if Needed. This is one of my best tips ever because it is going to make your life so much easier. If you are making a recipe that can be frozen, DOUBLE IT. A few weeks back I made potato soup (one of our favorite meals, but is super time consuming to prep), and I doubled the recipe and froze half. This week, we were craving it, and all I had to do was pull it out of the freezer and warm it up in the crock pot. It's that easy!
  3. Create a Game Plan and Stick to It. We are creatures of habit. Once you find a way to meal plan that works for you, make sure you stick to it. I'm only on week 3 and it has already become second nature to me. Now that I have a routine down, it only takes me about 15 minutes to plan meals for the whole week.
  4. Invest in some type of assistant. Once I was creating a list for recipe items, I started forgetting home things that I needed at the store. We invested in a virtual assistant where any member of the family can just talk to it and add items to the list once we run out. The list then goes to an app on my phone so when I am at the store I also don't forget other important items! My favorite virtual assistants are the Amazon Echo, and the Google Home.
  5. Invest in Kitchen Utensils that Will Make Your Life Easier. Making dinner doesn't have to always be a pain. In fact, I actually enjoy it! I found early on that having tools that make your life easier, such as a crock pot, will make the experience more enjoyable for you (and give you more time to get other stuff done). You can find my favorite kitchen utensils here.

Do you meal plan? What are your go to tips to making dinner time with your family easier? Drop them below!

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