Is meal planning a foreign concept to you? It was to me for many years. I would look at what we had in the pantry and think “I can’t make a meal out of this junk.” So off to the store we’d run to buy a few items for dinner, but somehow we always ended up with extras in the basket. This was a recurring theme each day and it certainly got expensive.
One day I decided to pull out a piece of paper, jot down what we were having for dinner each night and shop for those items only. It worked! We had food that I could actually make into meals. Unfortunately I quickly ran out of ideas and we started eating the same things each week. Ugh!
So I started asking my husband and boys what they wanted to see on the menu. I got the same response week in and week out, “I don’t care, you can just pick something.” I did and it happened to be the same things as the weeks before. Something had to be done to save our dinnertime ritual or we were all going to turn into chickens or tacos.
I began researching and experimenting with a variety of recipes. I made a plan and stuck to it. WOW, it’s amazing how it made feeding my family a much more enjoyable and peaceful experience. No more dinner time stress.
Throughout the process there are a few other hidden benefits that we have realized:
1. Our food budget has breathing room in it again. The daily grocery shopping trips and runs through the drive-thru were taking an unbelievable toll on our bank account.
2. Our waistlines have breathing room again. Cooking a nutritious meal each night is a great way to keep weight under control as we all know fast food and convenience foods are not known for their nutritional properties.
3. Improved cooking skills. Consistently trying new recipes has increased my proficiency in the kitchen and allowed me to feel comfortable experimenting a bit more.
4. Avoiding waste. Knowing what you’re going to cook and shopping for only the ingredients needed will result in less food turning into science experiments in the bottom drawers of your fridge.
Bonus benefit: You will discover new foods that you never thought your kids would eat. When we were in a rut I thought that I was feeding my kids their favorite foods. But as we began to experiment we opened the door to many new things that I never would have guessed they would like.
Photo Source: Emily Carlin