Between checking homework and shuttling between after-school activities, it’s hard to plan for dinner. Before you resort to going through the drive-thru or opening up that can of ravioli, there are some easy ways to plan out your family’s meals for the week.
Here are 8 easy meal planning tips to help make your dinner time less stressful and more enjoyable.
1. Have a themed meal night
My kids favorite school lunch is “Taco Tuesday”. So, why not have your own themed meal night. Choose a different theme for each night. For instance, you could make Thursday, ‘taco night’ and Friday, ‘pizza night’.
2. Cook extra for a new meal the next night
When cooking a meal for one day, cook extra so you can use the extra the next night but in an entirely different meal. For example, cook 2 pounds of ground beef for tacos on Tuesday and spaghetti on Wednesday.
3. Don’t wait until 5 o’clock to plan dinner
Instead, cook 2-3 meals at a time and freeze them. Or, if you’re feeling really motivated, cook for an entire month ahead of time.
4. Put a new spin on an old classic
Just a few tweaks can change a boring meal into something special. For example, use a different pasta than you normally use (using penne pasta instead of thin spaghetti).
Or, have different sauces on the side for them to try, like alfredo, melted butter, and regular spaghetti sauce.
5. Involve the kids in meal planning
Let the kids help plan out meals and even do some of the cooking.
Ask about their favorite school lunches to get even more ideas.
6. Be sure to check the family calendar
When planning your menu, don’t forget to check the family calendar to see what is going on during the week.
If you know there is something planned for Tuesday night and don’t have much time to cook dinner, make sandwiches and soup or a salad.
7. Keep a file of favorite recipes
When planning your meals, pull out this file and use some these recipes.
8. Keep it simple
Recipes with 3-5 ingredients that can be easily found at the grocery store are much easier for you and your wallet than creating gourmet meals.
These easy meal planning tips will help you can add time to your schedule while making meals the whole family will enjoy!