I really struggle with meal planning. It has taken me 9 plus years of marriage but I think I may finally be starting to get my rhythm down. I used to use eMeals early in our marriage. It had some really wonderful recipes, but I didn’t like feeling that I had to make a certain meal every day. And then if something would come up and I wasn’t able to make that specific meal, the fresh ingredients would go to waste because there is something scheduled every. Single. Day.
I’ve since tried Plan to Eat when I got a discount code from Kat Lee at Inspired to Action. It really is phenomenal. And it’s gotten even more user friendly over the past couple of years. You can plan any day you want, or not at all, which was nice for me so I could keep a couple of days for leftovers or going out to eat. The awesome thing was getting to see other peoples recipes. You could pick those recipes and add them to your list. It also allows you to pin recipes directly from sites such as Pinterest, The Food Network, etc. Then, it keeps a running list of what’s in your pantry. I mean, really, that was SUCH a great tool. So I already knew if I needed more butter or eggs. Then, based on what was in your pantry, it would automatically make a market list for you. And you could also customize your menu to one week only all the way up to one month. Oh, and it did breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks! This has really been the best thing for me.
I think for now, my groove has been to plan about a week and a half worth of meals. No specific days, just have a list of available meals with sides. I obviously have to make certain meals sooner rather than later so that none of my meat or produce goes to waste, but at least I have the freedom each day to choose what to make.
One other thing that REALLY helps me out is one tip I got from another stay-at-home mom. It has truly been life changing for me. If you’re like me then you despise cooking breakfast and lunch. Lunch more so than breakfast, but I just feel like we’re getting our groove for the day and I have to turn right around and make lunch for the kids. What helps is making the same breakfast and lunch every week. Yes, every week. This has been a HUGE time saver early in the morning when my brain isn’t yet functioning. Now, I intend to do this with lunches but have only done this with breakfast so far. Monday – muffins. Any kind, and yes, it takes a little planning and remembering to make them Sunday, but it pays off! Tuesday – oatmeal, Wednesday – waffles, Thursday – cereal, and Friday – french toast. And I admit that I totally slack and buy the frozen french toast sticks. Sometimes I rotate on Friday with cereal or the frozen pancakes. Until the kids can make breakfast on their own, this is the schedule we’re sticking to. Plus, it has been great at getting the little ones to know what day of the week it is.
So do you have any tips or recommendations for easy meal planning? I’d love to know!