Starting our journey into Baby Led Weaning has meant I’ve started to get serious about meal planning again, instead of just loosely planning out days of freezer and Hello Fresh meals. And to remind myself that it does not have to be a big weekly chore, I’m revisiting my own tips to make it easy.
Most of us like the idea of meal planning but the execution is just too daunting most weeks. After a long week of work and appointments and activities, the weekend is for house chores, more activities, and hopefully some relaxation. Not sitting down with a grocery list or trekking to the store to fight checkout lines with everyone else in town. So how can you still have a week’s worth of healthy meals for you and your family ready without sacrificing a lot of effort or precious weekend time?
1. Start simple.
You don’t have to make something different for every meal every day of the week. Start with one breakfast, one lunch, and three dinners. That gives you five meals to rotate on different days. And of course, some days you want dinner leftovers for lunch. Or breakfast for dinner. Just double up the recipe if you need to ensure you have enough.
You also don’t need to make fancy meals. Peanut butter and jelly works. So does incorporating pre-made items or convenience foods. For instance, a boxed soup that you can jazz up with a few extra veggies, rice, or a protein. Thin with a little water to balance the sodium and make it last even longer.
2. Don’t wait until the weekend.
Schedule a weeknight that is not otherwise taken with activities, sit down with a cup of tea, and make meal planning an enjoyable evening activity. Or keep a running list of ideas for next week up on the fridge. Maybe make it a communal activity, where everyone has to add something (and then help make it when the time comes!).
Also, try grocery shopping during the week. Or go in the early morning on the weekend before the stores get crowded if weekdays just don’t work for you. Having a standard grocery night that you either tackle alone or with the whole family to help out (whatever works best for you!) can make sure the weekends stay relaxing and stress free.
3. Rotate favorites.
When you find a recipe you love, especially one that may also be quick and easy to prepare, write it down. Keep a list of go-to recipes on hand, and make sure to rotate one or two in to each week. That way you there is one less new recipe to try out, and there is something to look forward to, particularly on an extra crazy night or week.
4. Prep is your best friend.
You may not want to spend time washing, chopping, and prepping everything all at once, especially after the planning and shopping. But if you take the time to at least wash and chop veggies, marinate proteins, or batch cook starches, it will make each day’s prep that much easier. And the fridge will look a little neater, so win win!
Any other tips for making meal plan easier? What are your biggest challenges when meal planning each week?