When it comes to cooking meals, there is nothing I dislike more (other than dirty dishes) than trying to choose what to have for dinner when it is already 5:00…6:00…7:00, yikes! When that time of the day strikes with no meal plan, eating out or take out tends to happen more often. I feel confident saying you too know this all too well.
As someone who consumes a plant-based diet and living in a town where plant-based dining is hard to come by, we rely even more on meals at home. Throw a 6-month baby girl in the mix, and eating at home becomes even more important.
Actually, my husband and I prefer to eat our meals at home. Sure, we absolutely enjoy going out on a dinner date, but we tend to prefer the food we cook ourselves over eating out. Plus, there are several advantages to cooking at home, including:
Many are aware of the advantages of cooking and eating at home as a family, however, many struggle to make it happen. Commonly, patients tell me cooking at home is difficult due to lack of time. Although meal planning does require some time upfront, you’ll find proper meal planning is relatively simple and can lead to slimmer waistlines, decreased groceries bills, less stress, and ultimately time saved! Who doesn’t want all it has to offer?!
One of the biggest questions I am asked regarding recipes is where I find them. All over the place! However, I have several of my favorite cookbooks within easy reach in the kitchen. The ones I use less frequently are in the kitchen, but a little more than an arm reach away. If your cookbooks are stashed away, you’re much less likely to pull them out or even know what recipes are in there waiting for you. In addition, I frequent food blogs and save recipes I’m interested in trying to boards on Pinterest. I also have a board for “Keeper Recipes” to remind myself which recipes were loved enough to make again!
You think you’ll remember what you planned for dinner on a certain night, but you won’t. This list can be as simple as a post-it note, a sticky note on your computer desktop, a dry-erase board, or chalkboard dinner menu. We just updated our board to a chalkboard menu from LoveMeSomeBoards! We love this rustic wooden sign and how it perfectly matches our style. Not only would a board help you remember what’s for dinner, but it will allow your family to know what’s for dinner—hopefully so they can start the cooking process if you aren’t home yet!
Let’s face it–you most likely won’t eat at home every night. Plus, with busy schedules, who is home for dinner will most likely vary. As important it is to sit down and eat meals together as a family, it most likely doesn’t happen every night. At our house, the type of meal depends on if both my husband and I are home for dinner. If it’s just me (and Baby Girl), I will most likely choose a recipe that requires less time. I’ll save the more time intensive recipes for a night my husband is home, or for a weekend night. If we know we are going out to eat or have dinner plans away from the home, I will indicate that on the menu board.
It sounds silly and simple, however, being in the kitchen when menu planning makes a big difference. I’ve meal planned from the couch before—actually even several times on the car ride home from a trip–but meal planning should involve making use of what you already have at home. How many cans of beans to do you have? Do you have 2 or 3 onions left? Planning from your kitchen allows you to cut down on food waste, over purchasing, and shout outs to your spouse when you ask “Oh, can you also check how many potatoes we have left?”
This piece is key. Sit with your recipes, a grocery list, and board or calendar. When you find a recipe you want to make, add it to the night you want to make it, check which ingredients you already have, and add those ingredients you do not have right to the list. Say goodbye to “Ugh, I forgot the tomato paste!”
Leftovers are a crucial piece of cost and time savings! Be sure to estimate how many servings a particular meal will make. If there are two of you at home and the recipes makes four servings, you can either plan the leftovers to be lunch or dinner the next day. You don’t have to make a homemade meal every night!
Let’s face it, there are several types of foods that freeze extremely well—especially soup! If you know you love a certain recipes that freezes and reheats well, double the recipe! If you’re already chopping and using cooking times, you might as well make another batch for a meal in the future.
Some meals might be more time intensive, however, some steps could be completed several days in advance. Making a soup that requires chopped veggies? Chop them on Sunday! Making a homemade pizza? Make the dough in advance and refrigerate or freeze earlier in the week! Making granola that is simple but requires a long duration in the oven? Make it in advance when you know you’ll be around the house for several hours. Did someone say laundry day?
Sometimes people associate meal planning with long, drawn out recipes. Who says? Meal planning can be as simple as “Monday: Baked potato, frozen broccoli, and fruit.” If you want to try a time intensive recipe, save it for a day you know you’ll have time.
As I mentioned before, meal planning can require some time upfront. However, the more often you meal plan, the easier it gets. That is the same for other healthy habits. Choosing a day of the week you will meal plan and grocery shop and sticking to it (with some flexibility) will make the whole process easier and simply become part of what you do.
To get you started on some great meal planning or to add beautiful rustic boards to your home, LoveMeSomeBoards is offering Wholesome readers 20% off any boards through April 30th, 2017 when you order from the Etsy Shop. Use the promo code: WHOLESOME to redeem this offer.
Happy Meal Planning!
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