Food

Meal Planning For Busy Families Made Easy

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While nutrition may be a very important aspect of our lives, many people feel that they simply don’t have the time for meal planning and resort to take-out and fast food for meals. With two-income families and extracurricular activities, many people say they’re concerned with their family’s diet, but just don’t know how to begin planning healthy meals that won’t take up a large portion of their already limited time.

Here are a few tips to take the guesswork out of family meal planning:

Designate a block of time every week when you have enough downtime to plan and prepare your menu for the coming week.  Commit to this each week.

“Shop” your cupboards, fridge, and freezer and make a mental note of all the food you already have in there. You could already have several meal components that you just have to put together and that will make less to buy on your shopping list.

Start with the food you want to use for dinners. Plan the menus based on the food you already have so you just need to buy the things you do not have. So for example, if you have potatoes, onions and flour, simply add milk and cheese to your shopping list for an easy potato gratin.

You will be pleasantly surprised by the number of meals you can plan with the food you already have. Some recipe websites even have sections now where you can input several random ingredients, and it will populate recipes that include those ingredients. Once you have gone through the things in your cabinet, then start planning new meals and prepare a shopping list. Move on to breakfast and then to lunch, but think about using dinner leftovers for lunch.

As you are completing your list, do not forget to add all of those must-haves for every busy family like snacks, fruit, juice, milk and all those little extras we always seem to need. You want to stay diligent about going shopping only once a week. This goes hand in hand, with your meal planning. When you have to keep going back and forth to the grocery store several times during the week, you end up spending more time and money.  You will also get tired of the chore and go back to fast food and take-out.

Post your weekly meal menu in an obvious place in your home so all you need to do is glance at it each morning. Take out whatever meat needs thawing, and you can plan how much time you will need to prep and cook later on that night. It certainly pays to plan and be prepared for your week. I assure you that if you just take the time to do these few things every week, you will actually save time and definitely save money.  You’ll probably feel healthier too!