Since moving to the beach, I have taken great care to develop a system for meal planning. Being without a dinner plan when the closest market is 30 minutes away spells DISASTER!
I have always been a meal planner, but some weeks I drift from a real organized plan. Does that ever happen to you?
As I get back into my routine, I wanted to share some of my steps of how I menu plan for the week in less than 15 minutes.
Collect Recipes and Pin Them
Pinterest is a great invention if you really put it to use in good ways, like keeping a dinner recipe board of your family favorites. I just started this Family Favorites board and have found it so helpful when I sit down to plan my meals for the week. I can quickly see the photos of the meals and I write down what appeals to me at the moment! I also am a fan of using eMeals to collect meals that are easy and simple for my family. I can keep those in my notebook. See below.
Write It Down
No if’s, and’s, or but’s – put a meal title on each day that you need to have a dinner made. Don’t make general ideas. Write it down and go right to making the list of ingredients you need to make the meal. If I am in question about any ingredients, I will write them down and then can easily cross them off when I check my pantry stock. So write down your meal and ingredients at the same time.
Keep a Notebook
I will print out many of my recipes and keep them in a divided notebook for easy reference later. I also have a folder where I place all the recipes I need for that week so I am not searching for them later, wasting time, and adding to frustration. I keep the folder in the front of my notebook. I am a paper person, so even when I pin recipes, I still print it out. Call me old-fashioned, but it works for me!
Have a Weekly Menu Planner
This is a game changer. I have to write down my ideas and the days I intend to make meals, not so much for breakfast and lunch, but certainly for dinner. It is pivotal in how I carry out my intended plans. So, if you don’t have one, you can print this FREE Weekly Menu Planner out that I have for my readers. I use it and love it to keep things simple and easy.
This is my favorite way to extend my meal planning and time. When I can I will double the recipe (or sometimes even triple it) and freeze a second batch of soup, stew, a crockpot recipe, or a casserole. It saves me time and also I will have a ready made list of dinner ideas set to quickly add to my weekly menu plan. I keep a running list of my freezer items so I can draw from it.
If you find a weekly plan that worked well, save it and repeat! This is my genius plan – seriously! I can take those meal plans and put them “as-is” through another week maybe 5-7 weeks after the original plan. This saves me a ton of time and also circulates many of my family favorite recipes in our schedule.
What is your biggest tip for easy meal planning? I’d love to hear!