Simplifying Meal Planning

 

simple meals

 

I’m on a mission to make meals easier, and I thought I’d take you along. πŸ™‚

It’s pretty much yo-yo (you’re on your own) around here for breakfast and lunch for multiple reasons, but supper is definitely not that way. I’d like for it to be set up so that I can put less time into planning and cooking meals, and more time enjoying them.

Here’s the game plan so far:

Decide on “meal criteria”. For me that’s Inexpensive, Easy, Mutually liked. Once you’ve figured out your criteria…

Go through all the recipes you make or have made. Put the ones that fit your criteria on one list. If you’re like me you probably have a couple that don’t fit your criteria, but you really like them. They get their own list. For all the rest of the recipes maybe you should consider why you still have them. πŸ˜›

Count up list 1. How long could you go on those before you had to repeat? 1 week, 2 weeks, a month? The list I made today has exactly 14 meals on it. That may not last though since I’m letting Josh look over it and let me know which ones he likes and doesn’t like. If you’re going to be eating the same things pretty close together you want to make sure you’ll enjoy it. πŸ˜‰ Don’t worry if you have extra, there are multiple ways to handle that. You could have a day that rotates between the extra meals each week, or you could have a one-and-a-half week cycle, or you could just add the extras to the 2nd list. Whatever works for you; just don’t over think it.

Once you’ve done that you can decide how to handle the rotations. Do you want to assign a meal to each day? Or you could have your meals in a specific order that repeats every 1, 2, or more weeks depending on how many you have. In our case we have two different meetings every month when we eat out, so I’ll likely be planning my meal order every rotation. Not a problem though since I’ll know which meals I’m using from the get-go.

You can use list 2 however you’d like. I’m going to use mine as once month meals. I’ve only got 3, so they’ll be on a 3 month rotation. That may sound like a long time, but we actually go longer than that between having them because I’m not keeping track. You could also just pull them out for special occasions like birthdays. Whatever works for you. πŸ™‚

Now, roadblocks. Let’s say you’ve got 7 meals, but 3 of them are unhealthy and you want to cut them from your menu, but you haven’t got around to it. Use them anyway. Why? Well, if you’re already eating them it doesn’t really matter, and on top of that if you have a meal plan that repeats then you can spend less time figuring out what you’ll eat every week and more time finding healthy meals to replace the ones you want to cut out. Set yourself a goal to find one new meal every rotation. If you all like it; great! You’ve got a replacement. If not, no worries; that was one less unhealthy meal for that cycle. If you’d like to have more than one week of meals then just keep doing this until you have the number you want. If you can’t find a recipe every cycle, just set a longer time frame.

If the problem is that you don’t think your family will want to eat the same meals so close together ask yourself this: if they’re so picky, why do you only have so few meal options? Is it because you eat out often? In that case you may want to stock up on a few more recipes, but you really don’t need many. I’d take a guess that everybody orders the same thing every time when you eat out. Not that picky. If you don’t eat out then it’s likely you all are eating those recipes in close rotation already. The only difference is that you will now have structure and feel less like pulling your hair out.

If you’re worried your husband won’t like the meals your choosing; send him a list! Ask him to send it back with the ones he likes and the ones he doesn’t like marked. Then you’ll know. Whenever you try a new one, ask him what he thinks. You can do this with the kids too to get an idea from them. Easy peazy. πŸ˜‰

How do you do supper? Do you use any electronic helpers to figure it out? I’d love to hear your recommendations! I’m planning to tackle grocery shopping next, so stay tuned for that post. πŸ™‚

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