Nothing beats the lazy days of summer..
Slow mornings, limited schedules, snacks all day, and sunny late night dinners. Annddd then good ol’ September 1st rolls around and we all enter PANIC MODE!! September can be one of the most hectic times of year with adjusting to new schedules, school drop-off and pick-up, before and after school programs, you know the drill.. Never mind trying to keep on top of planning and preparing ‘healthy’ meals for your family each night. I feel like I’m constantly preparing meals and cleaning up and some days I’m just over it! At a bare minimum though, I try to keep our pantry well-stocked with the essentials, so that I can quickly whip up something even if it’s just PB&J for dinner!
This year I’m trying to be a little more proactive by getting back into the meal planning process a few weeks before school starts, double batching some recipes and doing a good clean out of our fridge, freezer and pantry. My plan of attack with meal planning usually starts by going through some of my favourite cookbooks, family recipes and I think everyone’s saving grace.. Pinterest! Honestly, we all know when we’re in a real pinch just typing in ‘quick’ or ’30 minute’ the planning is done! But it’s also nice to feel prepared, organized and like you’re feeding your family thought-out nutritious meals. Providing them with some variety can be tough especially with picky eaters, but our only wish is that they grow up with big palettes, can hopefully walk away with a few good family recipes up their sleeve and memories that their mother had her sh*t together.. at least mine is LOL!!
All kidding aside, below I’ve shared some tips that I have found to be helpful in meal planning and making the process as quick and easy as possible! One of my favourite cookbooks that I refer to often is The Looneyspoons Collection! These ladies add refreshing twists to everyday meals and healthier take-out alternatives, provide you with nutritional information if you wish to know and a little bonus.. the creative names of their recipes, jokes and food trivia will make you giggle!
TIPS FOR FAMILY MEAL PLANNING:
1. Research Recipe Ideas + Keep it Simple
Choose a day to flip through your cookbooks and research online. I tend to do this over the weekend, scan through what we currently have for potential meals and then go from there. I like to mix in a few I know we love, adapt from our childhood favourites and 1-2 from Pinterest and all ideally 30 minutes or less.
2. Introduce Theme Nights
To help narrow down my search I pick a few themed dinner nights like Meatless Monday, Breakfast for Dinner, Crockpot Night.. I’ve found this to be a great way to get my little one’s input too!
3. Plan for Leftovers
Though not everyone is keen on leftovers, try your best to double duty your cooking time by making 1 or 2 bigger meals (casseroles are a friend of mine!) and either plan to have leftovers or freeze one.
4. Choose a Shopping Day + Make a List
When I make my list I categorize the items to their location in the store to make for quick strolling through the aisles. Or even better and budget friendly.. grocery shop online!!
5. Keep a Well-Stocked Pantry
Meals are quick and easier to prepare when you have all your favourite essentials.. down to the spices, oils, grains, and canned goods you like to use.
6. Be Strategic With Preparation
It’s taken me awhile to get in the habit of this, but every time I do, I HIGH-FIVE myself for it! Wash your fruits and vegetables, chop and store what will keep, even down to shredding cheese if you’ve planned to have a taco night. It saves so much prep time, you’re literally throwing ingredients into a bowl or pot and BONUS.. it allows for my oldest to help prep for her school lunches each night! DOUBLE WIN!!
7. Write it Down
Lastly, and I’m sure obvious is to write your meal plans down. Whether in your google calendar, posted on your fridge or saved to your computer it keeps you accountable, you can refer to it easily and it’s nice to have the visual for you and everyone in your family. For us we keep it posted on the fridge, I know for myself.. I look forward to Pizza Friday and Spaghetti Sunday and it’s nice to count down the days 😉
If you’re looking for some meal inspiration, I do like to use Pinterest so click here to see some dinner ideas that I like to rotate into our meal plans. A couple of our family’s favourite meals are a 30 minute Coconut Curry and Savoury Mini-Muffins (also great for lunches!) In the end of it all though, the one thing I try to keep in mind is to be flexible and not beat myself up with last minute changes, when I’m missing key ingredients or it’s just been one of those days.. boxed mac & cheese never hurt anyone!
So tell me.. what did I miss?? Fill me in on what keeps you motivated, inspired and feeling organized in preparing your family’s meals each week!?
Share your wisdom!!
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