What’s for dinner?

This is the age old question so many of us ask.  Problem is, we ask it too late in the day!

I have used various meal plans throughout the years.  Lately, with Christmas next week and lots of activities going on, I have fallen into the trap of asking “What’s for dinner” way too late in the day.  It has made me realize the need to get back on track with a meal plan and a shopping plan.

My ideal plan looks like this:
Shop once per week.    I almost always shop by what is on sale.  I rarely pay full price for an item.  Then decide what to make based on the sales and make a list!  Plan at least 7 meals, so that all the ingredients are on hand when it comes time to make them.

Open your calendar while making your meal plan. This way you can plan easier meals for days that have lots of activities, and more elaborate meals for days when you have more time.

Always allow a quick “go-to” meal to have on hand when surprises come up in your day.  I would say the biggest challenge to meal planning is that life isn’t always predictable.  If we plan ahead for these unexpected days, it can lessen the stress.

My “go-to” meal is always pasta.  The kids love it, it’s easy, and always on hand.  Throw in a salad and bread and the meal is complete.  Even if we just had pasta the day before, I will still use it in a pinch…it’s still better than fast food! 🙂

I plan by category.  We usually have the same categories every week, I just vary the dish.  We’ll have 1-2 chicken meals, 1 Mexican, Sundays is usually “Spaghetti Sunday”, and Fridays I usually make homemade pizza.  We also usually have another pasta night in there such as stuffed shells, ravioli, homemade mac and cheese etc.

Winter time we have lots of soups.  Potato soup and pasta y fagioli, or vegetarian chili are on the menu alot!  Couple it it with some bread, and you’re done!

Meal plans are a must if we want to simplify.  It frees us up to do so many other things.  For instance, when my meals are planned, I can get the bread going in the morning, or the crock pot, and when dinner time comes around I have more time to spend with the kids.  When they ask me to do something I am available.  Or, I have more time to do other things, like chores around the house, or just relaxing.  It is a much more relaxed atmosphere for everyone.

A little planning goes a long way with meals.  I find thinking ahead is a must! 
Share your ideas on meal planning. I’d love to hear!

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