Menu planning seems to be a big stumbling block for a lot of people! One of the best tips for a successful meal plan is to start with a blank calendar page. If you don’t have one of those, make a list of the days for the next 2-3 weeks you want to cook for on a piece of notebook paper. Either way, fill out the calendar with your scheduled activities for that time period… church, sports, music lessons, scouts, vacation time, overnight guests, etc. or anything that effects your meal times. Once you have those filled in, then go back and fill in a meal plan for every day. Don’t forget the side dishes, such as potato, pasta, veggie, salad, bread etc. to go with the meal either! Include those as well.
Take into consideration how busy your evening will be with the scheduled activity to determine what kind of meal you need to have. For example, if you have church on Wednesday night, it can be hectic. You may need an already cooked, heat-and-eat type of meal for Wednesday night or a slow cooker meal. That helps make it less hectic, so you can help with homework, have dinner, get ready for the evening activities, and that we get out the door on time.
On less hectic evenings, plan meals that need more prep or cooking time. Don’t limit yourself to only have what’s on the menu for today for dinner. Sometimes what’s on the menu doesn’t sound good, or the kids have been asking for burritos, etc. Have the flexibility to ‘swap’ meals on the menu. The kids want burritos and you have sloppy joes on the menu. Swap the 2 meals on the calendar and everyone’s happy. But don’t swap a quick meal for a time-consuming one. That defeats the purpose!
You could use the same approach for planning your breakfast and lunch meals as well. Fill in a calendar with meals and you’re ready to go. Once you have the calendar filled in, then from that list of meals, put together your shopping list, and plan your cooking day from there.
View some of our sample Cooking Plans:
- A Month of Breakfasts and Lunches
- Beef Plan
- Poultry Plan
- Ham & Egg Plan
- Back to School/Summer Plan
- Special Diets