It may sound like a four-letter word if you already feel crunched for time. But without this step in your weekly and daily calendar, you will fail miserably at preparing healthy meals. Most families today are also on limited grocery budgets, so again, without the planning, you’ll feel forced to buy cheaper and less nutritious foods.
I’m not saying that I always get my planning absolutely right each week, but it’s certainly something I strive for all the time.
Step 1: Organize Your Recipes
Having an organizing system for your recipes is really important. Even more important is to have a system that works for you and your personality. I have tried many cool organizing systems and tips over the years until I found the one that I could stick with. When my system gets unorganized and I can’t find the recipes I need quickly, I start to feel really overwhelmed. It becomes frustrating.
So, here is a quick video on how I organize my recipes. But just take it as a tip. If it works for you, great; If not, keep looking for a way that makes sense for you.
Step 2: Plan Your Meal Calendar Each Week
At the beginning of each shopping week (ours starts on Wednesday to coincide with the sales at a local farmers market), write down what meals you want to have and when. I find it helpful to write down any evenings where we will be out or my husband will be gone, as these affect what type of meal I make that night. You can make similar notes on your meal calendar too.
As you create your meal calendar, make your shopping list at the same time. When I write down a specific meal, I quickly look over the recipe and see what I need to have on-hand. The items I need go directly on to my shopping list. Check out this quick video about what I use and how I make our calendar.
Step 3: Meal Preparation & Time-Saving Tip
When you are preparing healthy meals for your family, this inevitably means you will be spending more time in the kitchen. However, there are many ways to cut down on your prep time with a little forward thinking.
Each morning after breakfast, I take a quick look at our meal calendar to see what I had planned for that night or for my kids’ after-school snack. This way, I can be aware if there is any part of the recipe I can prepare ahead of time (ie. thaw the meat, chop up veggies, pick herbs from my garden, etc.).
Here’s a quick time-saving tip if you are new to preparing healthy meals!
Other Helpful Planning Resources
Emeals: Meal Planning Made Simple
This is a fabulous web resource, especially if you are new to meal planning and need ideas each week.
You can easily pick your own meal plan according to any specific diet needs. Then, you receive a meal plan for the entire month, and even your grocery shopping list and coupons for your favorite stores!
eMeals Meal Planning Made Simple
This site has an amazing wealth of recipe how-to knowledge. I also love how I can search for a specific food and find a whole host of recipe ideas that may fit what I already have on-hand. This is my go-to site when I have a new food and not sure what to do with it!
Plan To Eat: Drag and Drop Digital Meal Planning
I have not tried this menu planner and grocery list software yet, but I really like the idea. I still like my pen and paper, so I’ve not switched over to the digital meal planning world yet. However, if you get overwhelmed wondering how to plan your meals and grocery list each week, this software compiles your list for you! If you don’t yet have a system for planning, this just might be your “gold nugget.”
What tips and tricks do you use to prepare healthy meals each week? What new tip will you try out? Leave me a comment below!