Dear thoughtful readers,
I told you I would write to you about meal planning–I know it’s been a while–and I’m here today to do this very thing! Approaching meal planning has been a task I’ve had to wrangle myself in, to do. I have weeks where the weekend escapes me and a meal plan is never made. Then there are the weeks when I’m able to sit down and sift my mind through simple ideas for meals that would be easy to approach, are not time-consuming and won’t require excessive meal prep.
Meal Planning Tips:
- Take inventory, either physically or mentally, of what you have in stock. I like to take a quick peek into our refrigerator, produce baskets and our cupboards. When I began meal planning, I would write all the unique produce items in our refrigerator, as those were the items I felt most likely to forget about.
- Organize your week’s meals by longevity of foodstuffs, schedule for the week, and who’s preparing what–if you’re in a multi-person home. On that note…
- Plan meals based around who will be preparing the meal and what their skill level or interest in cooking is.
- Decide on the number of days you would like to plan. I decided on just week days, as time is most restrictive on week days for us now.
- Decide on the meals you want to plan; breakfast, lunch & dinner. I decided to just plan dinners, as the evenings can be the most hectic in our home.
- Consider the time of year. Most of our meals are seasonally based because of the produce contained in our C.S.A. box. Consider the produce that is in season and how hot your kitchen might become after the preparation of a certain meal. In Texas, the Spring arrests the idea of preparing meals that require too much heat. Creativity comes into play in the Summer when baking veggies and dishes in the oven produces a sense of dread from the heat wave that accompanies the prep and cooking process.
- If you know you have a busy month coming up, plan.
- Have realistic and non-judgemental expectations about the types of meals you can prepare.
- Search for recipes and organize them using an online tool such as pinterest.
- Know your audience. Make food that’s appropriate for who you’re cooking for, and your life will be much easier. Keep in mind food allergies, sensitivities and preferences.
- Start with what you have. Most of us have to semi-regularly restock our pantry with our staple items, but try to plan your meals around what you have on a regular basis.
- Create a base grocery list and adjust as needed.
- Buy what you need and eat what you buy. (When I was a little girl, I have a vivid memory of being in Epcot Center at one of the Italian restaurants and I wanted a big plate of spaghetti, far more than I could have possibly handled–I may have channeled The Lady and the Tramp. My Papa (pawpaw) told me my eyes were bigger than my stomach and he was right. They had a big box of left-overs that night.)
- Find a method of keeping track of your planned meals and stick to it. I’m a paper and pen gal, so I just cut up some scrap paper, draw some lines, label the days of the week, and go for it.
- Find a way to make it fun. Planning meals should help make your life easier and less stressful, not more. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself when you first start.
I hope meal planning this summer makes for a happier you, and remember..bite responsibly!
Healthy & Happy Summer Regards,