Meal planning has many benefits — weight-loss, weight maintenance, grocery budgeting, and most importantly, keeping a family fed and smiling. We’ve been discussing meal planning a lot over on Fit Bottomed Eats, so we thought we’d get in on some of the fun here as well, and I particularly wanted to share my personal meal-planning tips over here for other busy moms. I began putting together a regular meal plan during my weight-loss journey and have continued ever since. Although most of it has been trial and error, I have found some important tips that help the process of family meal planning be a habit rather than a nuisance.
How to Create a Family Meal Plan Everyone Will Love
1. Stay organized. I have a few binders organized by meal (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Appetizers, etc). I like being able to pull the recipes out for the week, so I put them in transparent dividers. This is also handy when cooking to keep the recipe from getting dirty and wet.
2. Incorporate family favorites. There are a few must-haves my husband and son enjoy. I make sure to incorporate that to ensure easy meals but also to please them. This also keeps the week easy so you aren’t spending too much time in the kitchen whipping up new recipes (especially for busy mamas!).
3. Scope out recipes. I love Instagram! It has been my go-to for recipes. There are so many healthy pages to follow that fit my family’s lifestyle. I take screenshots and upload them into a file on my computer. My favorite website is Skinnytaste (stay tuned for when we dive head first into her cookbook!). Pull apart magazines, pay attention to the food section in your daily paper, and don’t pass up on the recipes that grocery stores hand out! Remember, everything can be modified — it’s just a map!
4. Take inventory. Check your fridge, freezer and pantry and know what you’re working with. No need to leave ingredients sitting on the shelves, incorporate them! Plan meals around ingredients you already have so your list doesn’t contain doubles.
5. Know your budget. There’s no reason to be surprised at checkout, so know what you want to spend. Once you know, you can build your menu around it. Check the paper and internet for coupons once your list is complete.
6. Get the whole family involved. Take the stress off of you and have everyone in the house (of appropriate age, of course) pick out a recipe they’d like to try each week. It’ll be fun to have a menu built from all perspectives!
Do you have a set meal plan or do you fly by the strings of your apron? What helps you stay organized? —Jennifer