Having a meal planning worksheet or calendar makes it easier to map out your menu for the week. Honestly I prefer to write in pencil because schedules change and life happens. Compare your planner to your family’s schedule. There may be some nights that are little hectic while others are little more relaxed. Incorporate those factors when mapping out your weekly meal plan.
Here’s one for you to download that includes your grocery list too!
Food Storage Containers & Bags
If you plan on prepping or bulk cooking your meals to save time during the week this is important. Investing in quality food storage products are vital to keeping the food fresh. Purchasing air tight containers will save you more money in the long run. Food spoilage and waste are one area we often take for granted.
Another factor is using the right food storage bag. What, a bag is a bag right? There truly is a difference between “storage” and “freezer” bags. Using the correct method of storage will prevent freezer burn and food loss.
One of my biggest mistakes is portion control. Prior to learning more about meal planning, we’d cook a very large pot of stew because that was the only way we knew how to prepare it. After day 3 of the same lunch and dinner, it got old. Whatever was left in the pot was wasted. I honestly didn’t think to freeze half and save it for another week. Those nights where you don’t feel like cooking, pull it out and heat. The idea seems to simple, yet we really hadn’t thought about it.
Even when we purchase meats in value or family packs we separate them prior to putting them away. When it comes time to prepare I don’t have to defrost a tray full of meat. They are already portioned out based on our needs. My husband is a huge fan of this set up, especially when he plans to barbecue.
I’m still a beginner myself and found that prepping can be overwhelming if you try to do it all at once. Instead, I spend 15 – 30 minutes here and there to prep sauces, veggies and simple lunches. For example I will prepare my toddler’s lunch during his mid-morning nap, so when he wakes up his food is ready. After all, it’s hard enough getting him changed and settled. On the weekends I get the meats set in the fridge so they are defrosted or marinating if required. As we get into a rhythm I’m sure the whole process becomes much easier.
I love Pinterest for the inspiration, but sometimes I think we hold ourselves to the level of “perfection” we see in the photographs. Remember most of those pins are images that are staged to look beautiful. That does not mean their kitchens look like that all the time. Do what works for your family without it becoming another job. There should always be a balance between making things more efficient and maintaining your sanity.
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