Five meal planning tips for busy families
Spring is quickly approaching and the need to freshen up your weekly dinner recipes may be part of your "spring cleaning. The "what are we having for dinner" moment can be a source of dread and frustration for many people. As a mom of four kids who are extremely active in everything, I feel your pain.
Here are some of my favorite meal planning tips to help you save both time and money:
Gather 15-20 family favorite meals
down with your family and ask them what their favorite meals are.
You may be surprised by some of the meals they love or some that
just don't appeal to their taste buds. The last thing you want to
do is waste time and money by preparing meals that your family
doesn't enjoy. Organize your recipes with a notebook, spreadsheet,
or use bookmarking sites like SpringPad.com
, or Pinterest
you have the family's preferences on meals, inventory your pantry
and freezer to see if there are ingredients on hand you can utilize
for your plan. Be sure to check to see what items you could
possibly substitute in your recipes, such as rotini for macaroni.
Oftentimes, you can make adjustments based on what you already have
on hand to fit the recipe.
your menu on a blank calendar or simply on a piece of notebook
paper. Write out each day of the week with slots for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner. If you are a beginning meal planner, consider
starting with just dinner to keep things simple.
your family calendar and make any notes of specific activities for
certain days. This helps to have written out when deciding which
meal is best suited for a particular night. Do you have a baseball
game? Is there a school program? Take these into account when
planning your menu as you want to make it as easy as possible on
a shopping list
your shopping list by consulting weekly circular for your favorite
grocery store or use free coupon match-up site
There are also list creating sites such as Ziplist.com
, which will help you
create a shopping list online and will even create your list based
on the recipes you choose.
5 meals are meals that you can quickly make at home and get on your
table in less time than it takes to order take-0ut. Tape a list of
your fast five meals on your refrigerator or pantry door. You will
save time and money because you won't be tempted to stop for fast
food as you know you have these items in your pantry. Meals that
are good for this list are quesadillas, spaghetti, pizza
, tacos, and a new household favorite pepperoni
. These will be things you know your family likes
and things you normally have stocked in your pantry.
a double batch of your family's favorite meals each time you cook
to quickly create a freezer full of home-cooked meals. I love to
make a double batch of lasagna
name a few. You can save so much money by preparing your own freezer
that also do not contain all the preservatives of
store purchased freezer meals.
cook and freeze meal components. I often do this with ground beef
or chicken breasts. I will cook a double, triple, or quadruple
batch and freeze to use on another day. Doing this makes it easy
for beef tacos to be on our fast five meal list.
these tips may seem simple, the savings in dollars and time can be
significant. Before you know it, you could cut your grocery bill in
half while ensuring you are providing your family with healthy and
delicious meals every night of the week.
Carter is the founder of BargainBriana.com, where she blogs
about simple ways to save money and live frugally while still
having fun. Briana is a wife and mother of four kids, who are
extremely busy with numerous activities.