What’s For Dinner?? Menu Planning Tips

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I remember when I was kid, I would call me my Mom at work and ask that very question. I would get the answer you are at home take something out to defrost and I’ll deal with it at home. Now a days the answer is probably I’ll pick something up on the way or or home something and I’ll pay for it when I get home. Back when I was a kid there was no such thing as delivery and I also use to walk up hill to school (had to throw that in there).

Now that I’m an adult and coming home after a long day, the last thing I want to do is deal with dinner! Here are a few tips that I think can help.

  1. Schedule your meals a week in advance.  This is one of the most important planning tips for meals. Knowing what you are going to eat throughout the week means less chance that you will stop off at the closest fast food place for a convenient, but unhealthy meal. Create your shopping list from the list of ingredients to avoid buying what you don’t need at the grocery store.
  2. Search online. After a while your family will get tired of chicken and rice every Thursday. You can get into a menu rut sometimes. Use the Internet to search for new and exciting recipes. Learn to put a twist on old recipes for a new taste. On Saturday mornings I spend about 20 minutes on pinterest looking up a variety of recipes. I do this about once/month, this way I can pull recipes out of a file and be ready to go to the store.
  3. Have a leftover night. After preparing meals for five or six days, there is bound to be some food left over. Designate one night to be leftover night and let everyone mix and match for dinner. I call it hodge podge night and my husband loves it. We also take leftovers for lunch.
  4. Cook your meals in advance. After deciding on a menu plan for the week, go ahead and fix as many meals as you can. Choose a day when the entire family can help like Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. Each person can take one meal and fix it for the following week. Once everything has cooled, store it in sealed containers or casserole dishes to be frozen until the night it is needed. I will typically cooked a bunch of protein on Sunday night and while that’s cooking I’ll make my veggies or any labor intensive side dishes. This make it so much easier to come home and just cook one thing versus cooking the entire meal.
  5. Do prep work in advance. All of the meals can’t be cooked at once. Some foods just taste better freshly prepared. For them, so as much prep work in advance as you can. If they are old enough have your kids to help chop (give them the kitchen shears instead) vegetables, dice cooked meat and mix together dry ingredients. The night of the meal, all that is needed is to add the wet ingredients and bake.

Meal time doesn’t have to be all on you. The entire family can help with dinner so it is a relaxing meal for everyone.
If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment below.

Heading out for summer bbq, give these 5 crowd pleasing salads a try.

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