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Five Ways to Meal Plan and Save your Sanity

7th Nov 2016

Five Ways to Meal Plan and Save your Sanity

Five Ways to Meal Plan and Save your Sanity

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a great cook. Don’t get me wrong, when I actually do make something, it’s usually pretty good. And most of the time all my kids will eat it. But with four kids and a picky husband- it can be tricky. I’ve made great meal plans for the family, gone and spent way too much on groceries, and then half of my plans go out the window when life gets in the way.  I end up throwing out food that is going bad (particularly veggies in this house as it’s difficult to get them all to eat vegetables.)

So I sat down once for a day and spent a few hours laying out my plans in order to save time, save money and get everyone fed.

  1. Make a list of every single meal you can think of that your family will eat. I focus on dinners as lunches are always packed for school here. If you are struggling to come up with meal ideas- ask everyone in the house to give you a list of 3 or 4 of their favourites so you can add them in.
  2. Once you have your list- figure out how they fit into your life. If Wednesday you are running to dance or soccer practice- make it something simple like soup and sandwiches so it takes 5 minutes instead of an hour to prepare. Save your more elaborate dishes for a day you have more time for preparation. Print off a calendar for the month and write in your meals for every day. I print mine and then stick it on our kitchen bulletin board- this way you can take a quick look in the morning and take out whatever you need to for the meal that evening.
  3. Once you have your meals figured out- write a grocery list. Go through your cupboards and pantry first to make sure you aren’t picking up items you already have. Break your list down into weeks for perishables (you don’t want to buy lettuce for a salad on the 1st of the month if you aren’t eating it until the 15th.) Don’t forget things like spices and sauces if you will need them.
  4. Grocery shop. Only buy what you have put on your list, but keep a little extra grocery money aside for last minute trips to the store. We are HUGE milk drinkers here and buy four, 4 litre jugs at a time- but inevitably have to run to the store at minimum once a week for more. Same goes for fruit- we do an extra fruit run a week- but I won’t complain about that!
  5. Make sure you have tools to help. We have a slow cooker (LOVE it), a Panini press (great for grilled cheese and for cooking chicken breasts), a T-Fal deep fryer (the one that doesn’t need any oil, SO much healthier!) and  a microwave egg cooker. I am always on the lookout for things that will help speed up meals, and also that are easy for the kids to use as well as they begin to test out their cooking skills.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up. Your family needs healthy home-cooked meals, not elaborate culinary feats. If they are anything like my family…the fancier it gets, the less likely they will eat it! What are your favourite go-to meals for your busy family?

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