By now, after reading post one and two, I trust your new found nutrition knowledge has boomeranged your meal-planning motivation right back into your kitchen! No? Okay, maybe I’m the only one who gets excited about pairing new recipes together for the week ahead, but even so, I hope you are at least viewing the task as a bit less daunting.
When you have a plan logged for the oft crazy week ahead, you will quickly noticed you feel much happier and far less frazzled as you make the drive back home after a long day at work.
And if you happen to have chosen a slow cooker meal for that day? Mmm, mmm, MMM! You will be greeted with a delicious aroma which always makes for a happy momma!
“It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” – Richard C. Cushing
Before you get into a weekly routine of meal-planning, I recommend taking a few extra steps to set the stage for success.
Step 1: Create a recipe book or Pinterest board. Identify your top 10 to 20 tried, true , and family approved recipes. Now write them down, gather them together in a book (magazine pages work great in a binder), or pin them on your meal planning board.
Whatever your method, the goal is to make them accessible so that when you sit down to mealplan, you can quickly scan through your family’s favorites.
Step 2: Make a meal-planning zone. This is my favorite and can quickly become a source of kitchen inspiration! Set aside a space in your kitchen or home office and dedicate it to the sole purpose of meal planning.
What does this look like? For me, it all began with a beautiful vintage cookbook holder I found in an antique shop (similar to this one, here). Every couple of weeks I swap out the cookbook being featured on its frame to offer new mealtime motivation. While the cookbook alone may be enough for you, I am a self-deemed recipe hoarder which means I also need a paper tray to collect the recipes I print out or tear out. The tray is also the perfect place to store your own recipe book that you put together in step one.
Up until recently I have relied on a simple meal planning tear pad, which I use to write down my weekly plan. Just this past month I transitioned over to one housed within my planner which makes my planning (and reminder) that much more accessible when I am on the run. This is the foundation of my success. If it’s not written down, it will never happen. I swear I have the memory of a goldfish these days, a lovely quality I am going to blame on having a toddler and infant underfoot.
Step 3: Determine what day works best for your planning and prepping. When do you have the time and energy available to plan? Before the kids wake up? After they go to bed? Or perhaps during an episode of PBS’s Daniel Tiger (my munchkin’s own obsession)? Anytime works as long as it is time that you actually have to focus, at least for 15 minutes or so.
As an early bird myself, I tend to plan on Saturday morning before shopping on Sunday morning. This way I have a full nap-zone that afternoon to begin prepping.
Okay, looking good! Now that you have the front work taken care of, let’s prepare for the week ahead and start making your first mealplan!
As you get started, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Finally, make it fun! While I’ve always (always, meaning since having kids anyway!) been a weekly planner and because I tend to serve up new recipes each week (did I mention I’m a recipe hoarder?), I have recently began dabbling in weekly themes and setting aside at least a couple of days for family favorites.
Here is what this often looks like for me:
And here is what it might look like for you:
Feeling accomplished? You should be! When you’re ready, be sure to complete our meal planning series with my tips on prepping for the meals ahead!
Do you stick to themes throughout the week? If so, I’d love to hear them!