Meal Planners help reduce Stress and save Sanity

Feeding the family day in and day out is a tedious chore for many people, especially when jobs, school and other activities leave you little time to cook. Meal planning is a great way to lessen the stress of everyday cooking because it prepares you ahead of time for each day’s meals. You don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner when you come home from work and only have an hour until your son’s baseball practice. A well-organized meal planner already knows!

Why use a Meal Planner?

Besides organization, a meal planner enables you to accomplish several other things.

  • Have variety in your meals
  • Save money
  • Eat better
  • Reduce food waste, and
  • Regain your sanity

Contrary to popular belief, creating a meal planner is not expensive, and once you have it down pat, it doesn’t take much time at all to follow each week. Here are seven easy ways to make a meal planner.

1. Take time to look for recipes

This might sound like time-consuming work, but once you begin, you’ll realize the wealth of good foods out there just waiting to be tried. Browse the Internet or some cookbooks and look for a few recipes each week that look good and are easy to make. You’ll soon develop a list of recipes that you love and make often.

2. Keep a journal

This is a good way to remember what worked and what didn’t. You might forget about a great meal you made several months ago, but by looking back, you’re able to remember and make it again. Keep your entries simple and use whatever platform you find easy for documenting your daily and/or weekly meals.

3. Use a Calendar

Write what you plan to make on a calendar. Make it as organized as you want. You can jot down notes for a certain day or plan out an entire meal for each day of the week. This is simply a way to keep you on task and help you plan ahead for shopping and cooking. You might even use Google Calendar to share thoughts and meal ideas among everyone in your family.

4. Plan theme nights

Having theme nights helps narrow food choices down and makes it easy to plan ahead. Monday can be taco night, Tuesday fish, and so on. When everyone knows what’s on the menu ahead of time, they can contribute recipe ideas they’d like to try that fit into that night’s theme.

5. Choose a shopping day and use a list

Choose a day of the week that works best for shopping. Shop purposefully using a list you’ve created with the ingredients for the recipes you plan to make the following week. Try to always shop on the same day each week so you can plan accordingly beforehand. Shop when you’re not hungry to avoid buying extras that aren’t on your list.

6. Plan for leftovers

Some people have no tolerance for leftovers, but if you aren’t among them, use your leftovers to your advantage. If you’re making a casserole, leftovers can be reheated the next day for lunch. Alternately, you might want to purposefully make extra in order to eat leftovers throughout the week. At the end of the week, have a leftover night and finish up anything that’s left from the week’s meals.

7. Use a meal planner app

If all of these tips sound a little too time consuming, Android and Apple both have a variety of meal planning apps available for free and for purchase to help you organize your meals each week. Do some research to find the one that works best for you and start planning your meals ahead of time.