April 20, 2012 by Carin
Dinner time in our house is crazy as I have written about that before. Preparing dinner can be even crazier if my husband is not home to help corral the kids will I try to prepare dinner. To help dinner prep going more smoothly, I have relied on meal planning every two weeks. I started meal planning after Grace was born help make the task more organized and so I was not constantly running to the store with a baby in tow to find something to make. Also, realizing last minute that I didn’t have anything in the house to make for dinner led to a lot of take-out or cereal dinners. To tell you the truth, I loath going to the grocery store. It is a task that feels like a time suck and could be better spent doing something else.
My meal planning starts with some tried and true sources that help me find new and delicious recipes. I have a subscription to Cooking Light, BHG and Everyday Food. In the past few months I have found several good recipes on Pinterest and there is always the various blogs I read. And I occasionally will pick up Food Network Magazine at Costco. All of these are good sources for easy and good recipes. I try to avoid anything that seems overly complicated or has too many ingredients. I try to seek out recipes that will appeal to the kids as well as us grown-ups. Sometimes we like the meal better then the kids and I end up warming up something else for them, but for the most part we all eat the same meal.
I plan my meals out in two week increments. For a two week period I figure I need about 10 meals planned. We go out to eat about once a week, usually Friday nights to end the busy week and welcome in the weekend. And then I figure we will have some leftovers along the way to fill in for a night or two. Another thing that helps is I try to have pasta and sauce in the house for those nights when quick meal prep is needed. Another stand- by that I rely on least once every two weeks is breakfast for dinner. We always have eggs, sausage or pancake ingredients on hand. So all those are factored into the meal planning as well.
When I have my 10 or so recipes figured out, I make my grocery list based on the ingredients needed, adding in staples for breakfast and lunches. Now my trip to the grocery store is made easier and I know exactly what I need without aimlessly wandering the store trying to figure out what we need and trying to meal plan on the fly. My frustration and time spent at the store is reduced and I can get on with my day. Also, unless the store is out of something I need, I only have to hit it up twice a month, which I love.
If dinner time at your house is crazy and you are constantly trying to figure out what to make for dinner, think about meal planning. It does help ease the dinner time meal battle and it makes trips to the grocery store simpler and more enjoyable.
What do you do to make grocery shopping easier? What are your favorite sources for meal ideas?