If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve seen me talk about wanting to become more consistent with meal planning and making healthy, homemade dinners. It’s something I’ve strived for and struggle with for the entire time Dave and I have lived in our current home. I love finding new recipes on Pinterest. I even love making a grocery list and grocery shopping! But where I really struggle is the follow-through. When I get home from a long day at work, I lack the motivation to make a real dinner. I’m not a great cook yet, and I find myself only wanting to make meals that are super quick and easy.
So, as I do with my monthly goal lists, I’m coming to you guys! I’m hoping that by talking about meal planning, and sharing my meal planning goals, I’ll be able to reach those goals with a little encouragement! I rocked my meal planning this week. I planned, shopped, and we stuck to the plan the entire week! I’m hoping to keep that up! And I’m sharing some tips for any who want to follow along with their own meal planning!
First of all, don’t go into meal planning thinking you’re going to make three home-cooked meals per day. Honestly, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. What I recommend doing instead is planning to make a home-cooked meal for dinner, and do something simple for breakfast and lunch. Dave and I have the same thing each morning for breakfast – hard boiled eggs and yogurt. There’s zero prep-work required, we can just grab everything out of the fridge. Plus, it’s a healthy and filling breakfast. For lunch, we aim for leftovers, but keep things on-hand such as sandwich fixings, soup, string cheese, etc. And then we plan for a homemade dinner.
Don’t Aim Too High
I love Pinterest, and I’m sure many of my readers do as well. I love trying new recipes from Pinterest and cookbooks, and many of them have turned into our favorite recipes. But if I planned to cook a new Pinterest recipe every night, I would fail. I aim for 1-2 new recipes per week, and stick with our old standards for the rest of the nights. I’m more likely to make dinner if most of the time, I’m quickly whipping up something I’ve made a hundred times before. I’m currently working on creating a spreadsheet as a master list of all our go-to recipes!
Write it down.
One thing that helps me meal plan is actually writing it down. I write down what we’re going to eat each day (including breakfast and lunch) and then use that list to make my grocery list. Plus, having the physical list helps keep me focused during the week.
Give Yourself a Break
I always plan ahead at least one night per week for Dave and I to order take-out or grab something from a restaurant. Realistically, I know we’re going to do this at least once per week either way on a night we don’t feel like cooking. Actually writing it into my meal plan means I’m not wasting groceries or money.
Why Meal Plan?
It’s a time-saver. When you get home each day after work, you already know what you’re having for dinner. No need to scrounge the cupboards, or make multiple trips to the grocery store during the week.
It’s a money-saver. Since Dave and I are saving for a house, this is a big one! When we don’t have a meal plan, we’re more likely to spend money on take-out, which is way more expensive than the meals we make at home!
It encourages a healthy diet. When meals aren’t planned out, you’re so much more likely to resort to something that isn’t healthy. Think frozen pizzas, take-out, fast food, Mac and Cheese, etc.
It encourages family dinners. When you’re ordering food or making a quick frozen pizza, you aren’t getting the family dinner experience you get with a home-cooked meal. Dave and I both work all day, at jobs that are often stressful. Dinner is the time when we can finally sit together, catch up, talk about our days, and make plans.
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