One of the big challenges of managing a busy family is feeding everyone healthy meals and keeping the grocery expenses reasonable.  Despite our great intentions of having a wide variety of meals, we tend to stick to a few main meals that we make over and over.  With that in mind, create a meal plan to make dinners easy and the shopping and prep a breeze.  

Meal planning is easy to do and will save you time, money and stress.  When you meal plan, you know what you will be eating, what you need to buy, and you are less likely to go out for dinner, or buy take-out food, keeping your money for the things you really want.

To create your meal plans, you will need a calendar, some tools and resources and about 20 minutes.  You will get a grocery list, a plan and savings.

  1. Create a week of themes for your meals to go with the days of the week.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Pasta Mexican Stirfry Crockpot Pizza Something new Something easy

 

  1. Decide what you will have for each meal

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Chicken Fettuccini Tacos with Salad Pork, frozen veggies, rice Crockpot Butter Chicken Pizza and a Movie Something new BLTs and french fries in the oven

 

  1. Repeat the theme in week two with different choices

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Macaroni and Cheese Burritos with rice and beans Chicken, frozen veggies, rice Crockpot Pulled Pork on a bun Pizza and a Movie Something new Hamburgers and salad

 

  1. You now have two weeks of menus.  You can make a grocery list from the plan and shop for the items you need.  Look at your calendar to decide which are your really busy nights with activities or work.  Make the busy nights super simple – use frozen veggies and pre-cut meat for stirfry night or the crock pot.

  1. Create a job list or calendar to establish tasks.  Help the members of the family choose age-appropriate jobs to involve everyone in the preparation and clean up.  Jobs can include setting the table, making a salad, cleaning up, emptying the dishwasher and so on.

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You can use your cookbooks and online resources for meal ideas.  When you find one everyone loves, be sure to keep it and add it to your biweekly roster.  Use the many online resources to help and guide you.  You can find a number of meal planning websites, as well at hundreds of recipe sites to help you.  Check out www.foodonthetable.com,, www.plantoeat.com or www.relishrelish.com.

Creating easy, yummy, healthy meals quickly and efficiently can make your family time much more enjoyable.  Consider buying local, in-season foods for additional savings. Fall is a great time to hit the farmer’s market. Planning ahead, getting everyone involved and sticking to your plan will help you reach many of your family goals.

Bon Appétit!

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