One of the hardest parts of meal planning is choosing recipes that you would like to make. Let me introduce you to my meal planning method that will have you choosing recipes for your family that you love, and a way to keep track of them all. Meal planning is actually pretty easy once you have a treasure trove of recipes to choose from.
Why is it so hard to make a meal plan? Are you super busy and just don’t have the time to sit down and figure it all out? Do you feel guilty that you don’t have any idea what you are going to make tonight?
This program will help you become a master meal planner with just a few steps. Humor me, and let me show you that even the most busy people can make a plan in just 5 minutes or less! But not only will this program be fast, once established, it will take away that guilt and help you realize you are a master planner.
Meal Planning – Step One:
What Do You Like to Cook?
The first step of meal planning is knowing what you like to cook. You might need to completely change your diet, change your lifestyle, or eat more vegetables or fruit, or want to try something new. You’ll first need to find out what does or doesn’t work for your household.
Recipes That Work for Your Family
When you start a meal plan I always recommend starting with what you already know. Do you have a few family favorites that are always a hit with both adults and kids? Write them down. Just do it. I sometimes even forget some of favorite meals. You’ll need to reference these later in your recipe box.
Also, are there recipes that are just down-right fun to make for your family? As a couple, is there dish that you like to make together for a in-home date night? Do you like to make individual pizzas together or maybe your kids love making noodles? Sometimes having your kids help make dinner with you isn’t quick or easy, but you know that it might be the only way to get dinner actually cooked! We all have those days, so don’t forget that quick and easy isn’t always the answer.
Recipes That Work for Your Dietary Needs
If you are struggling with food choices because a family member has allergies or an intolerance, be sure to go recipe hunting. There are so many bloggers now days that have great recipe resources for specific dietary needs. Obviously I can’t address every variable, but I’m sure you aren’t alone in your recipe needs and can find a source that will easily fill your recipe book.
Sometimes dietary needs are just lifestyle choices and maybe you want to incorporate/eliminate more of a certain type of food group. Maybe you love fruit, but want to make an effort to eat it every day, or you want to loose a little weight and want to eat more dinner salads. Another thing to keep in mind is foods that you just abhor, like squash. I am not a fan, at all, of squash. When I go hunting for recipes, I have to filter out the recipes that have squash in them. So when you hunt for recipes, filter them to help incorporate or eliminate certain foods.
Different Cooking Methods
There are all kinds of different ways to cook food, and if you don’t think about it, you might overwhelm yourself with one method more than the other. So when you are putting together your recipe book, you’ll need to space these out to give yourself some variety and perhaps even a break from being in the kitchen.
Short-order cooks are like the line cooks at the restaurant. They make food fast and at the last minute. This short-order cooking style is great for quick dinners but will consume all your attention for several minutes. An example could be steaks, sauté vegetables, and rice— A meal that doesn’t take much prep and all comes together at the last minute. Slow-cooker recipes are great. This method is great for stews, soups, and roasts. Slow cooker recipes take a little prep time, but there is rarely last-minute preparations. Not all recipes will actually use a crockpot or other electric counter appliance, but simmering and oven roasting can also be included in this category. Grilling your dinner is a fabulous method of cooking and like short-order recipes, is usually quick cooking. This usually takes a little bit of preparation but I always find the clean up is so much faster.
Meal Planning – Step Two:
Creating a Recipe Book
Creating a recipe book will not only help you meal plan, but you’ll be organized! Your recipe book is yours and once you collect your favorites it’s like you’ve just created your own little cookbook.
First thing to do is actually write out your own recipes, this includes your family favorites. You may have some that you just know by heart so just write down the ingredients (this will come in handy later). You can write this anywhere— recipe cards, notebook paper, in Word, or online. Get my handy worksheet for a free printable.
I’m going to recommend doing a hard copy, but if you love keeping everything online just get it done. Here are a couple online resources to save your recipes like AllRecipes, google drive, Pinterest
(follow my recipe board!), Evernote
. (I’m using Evernote to hoard the ones I find online, but I love recipe cards.) affiliate link
Once you have all the recipes you already love, it’s time to find some new recipes. Find your favorite blogger, your favorite recipe website, use Pinterest, or pick up a magazine, and add a couple recipes to your collection. Some people hate this part and some people love it. If you are dreading this part, just contact a friend to send you a recipe of their favorite meal. There are loads of places to find recipes, so don’t make this hard on yourself and spend hours looking for something new.
Ideally, you’ll want to collect 20-30 recipes. It really isn’t that many, especially if you include thing you don’t really need recipes for (like grilled cheese).
Once you have a recipe book done, it will be incredibly easy to fill in a meal plan for the week or even month. You’ll have a great resource of recipes that you know you’ll enjoy! Be sure to download my free worksheet to get your meal plan started now.
If you love using cook books, maybe you could create table of contents instead of creating a another separate recipe source. Simply create a list of all your favorite recipes but add where you can find the recipe. If you don’t want to have to look up the recipes ingredients when you need to go shopping, including the shopping list for each recipe on the list itself will save tons of time.
Check out the free printable for a recipe list, recipe cards, and shopping list.
Continue reading other topics in the Meal Planning series.
1. Meal Planning: Choosing Recipes (Oh, that’s this one!)