Easy Meal Plan: 8 Tips to Simplify Your Meal Planning
It’s 5:00 PM and dinnertime stress starts to kick in. Your hungry children run around the kitchen asking what’s for dinner as you rummage through the fridge and pantry cabinets looking for ingredients to put something on the table. Overwhelmed and frustrated, you order Chinese takeout instead and then feel guilty for feeding your family greasy fast food.
Developing an easy meal plan can make dinner time much less stressful. Simple meal planning will not only make your life easier but can also help your family save more money and eat healthier. Are you thinking meal planning is another time-consuming chore that can’t fit into your busy schedule? In this article, Wildly Organic will provide eight tips to simplify meal planning and help you enjoy a stress-free dinner hour:
Schedule a Time to Plan
One of the best ways to simplify meal planning is to do it at a designated time every week. When you create meal plans on a regular schedule, it becomes a habit and normal part of your routine. Finding time to develop an easy meal plan may seem unfeasible with a busy life but it can save you hours every week on drive-thru waits and last-minute trips to the store.
Weekend mornings are often best for simple meal planning as you or someone else in the household has free time to go grocery shopping later in the day. Set aside an hour on a Saturday or Sunday morning to check out simple online recipes, map out easy weekly meals, and make a shopping list to get all the ingredients you need for the week ahead.
Choose Recipes With Few Ingredients
A common reason why people fail at meal planning is that they make it too complicated. Preparing Instagram-worthy recipes day after day will burn you out. The secret to an easy meal plan is to choose recipes with a few ingredients. The simpler your recipes, the less time you need to spend on grocery shopping, ingredient prepping, and meal cooking.
To create a successful meal plan, focus on minimalist recipes that use a few versatile, shelf-stable ingredients. Minimalist recipes like Wildly Organic’s Cream of Cabbage Soup use a little over 10 ingredients, most of which are pantry staples. The recipe also calls for coconut milk powder instead of canned coconut milk, eliminating last-minute shopping to replace spoiled milk.
Use High-Quality Ingredients
Are you thinking minimal ingredient recipes are too bland for your family’s taste? Minimalist recipes facilitate easy meal planning but you need the right ingredients to make them deliver a flavorful punch. While you don’t have to put together more than 20 ingredients to make a delicious meal, it is crucial to use high-quality ingredients in simple recipes to make them crowd-pleasing.
When you grocery shop for easy weekly meals, make sure to buy only the best and highest-quality ingredients you can find to make simple meal planning a hit for yourself and your family. Minimally processed ingredients like Wildly Organic’s natural food products pack more flavor as they’re grown in rich soils and pure environments, making 5-ingredient recipes taste like fancy gourmet meals.
Create a Favorite Meals List
Googling and learning new recipes every week can impede your ability to develop an easy meal plan. You don’t have to serve new dishes every day of the week to impress your family. It’s perfectly fine to stick with tried and true favorite meals that you know everyone will love. Creating a favorite meals list will ease menu planning and keep your family happy.
Ease meal planning by making a list of all new and old favorite recipes, and then use the favorites list to create an easy meal plan. Include 4-5 dishes from the favorites list that you haven't made in the past week, and then round up your menu with new recipes to add some variety. A favorite menu list eliminates the dread of meal planning and helps you cook with more confidence.
Get All the Help You Can
From doing all the menu devising and grocery shopping to preparing recipe ingredients from scratch, many people make simple meal planning harder than it should be. Not enlisting the help of other family members and avoiding pre-made food products are big mistakes that can wear you out and make it very difficult to develop an easy meal plan.
Do you want a great tip for making easy weekly meals? Alright, here it is: get all the help you can! Why make almond flour from scratch when you can buy a bag of premium-quality, organic almond flour for just $20.89? Send your spouse to do the grocery shopping and ask the kids to help with food prepping to make the meal planning experience less burdensome.
Develop Food Themes for Days of the Week
Designing themed dinner nights is a fun way to get your family involved in creating an easy meal plan. Get your kids to participate in the meal planning process by letting them choose a food theme for each day of the week. A seven-day meal plan with themed dinners can look something like this:
- Meatless Monday
- Taco Tuesday
- Vegetarian Wednesday
- Thai-food Thursday
- Fish Friday
- Spaghetti Saturday
- Salmon Sunday
Having regular meal patterns makes your food planning predictable which helps beat decision fatigue. Themed food days also facilitate simple meal planning as preparing regular recipes becomes a normal part of your weekly routine. Use themed food planning to make easy weekly meals and deepen family bonds.
Work Leftovers Into Your Meal Plan
Not a big leftover fan? You’re doing yourself a big disservice. Leftover food is a valuable asset that can simplify your effort to create an easy meal plan. Leftovers help you cook once but eat several meals, cutting down the time you spend in the kitchen. You should plan to use leftovers in other meals, and also purposefully create leftovers to save time and effort during the week.
By purposefully creating leftovers, I mean cooking a large quantity of food at once to use in multiple recipes. So for example, roast two chickens instead of one tonight, and then use the leftovers to make cheesy baked burritos for tomorrow’s dinner. It’s easy to work leftovers into distinctly different meals so it doesn’t seem like you simply microwaved last night’s dinner.
Embrace Sunday Meal Preps
Nobody likes to come home after a long day of work only to sweat out in a steaming kitchen with splattering pots and pans. With Sunday meal prepping, you can come home to a fridge full of pre-cooked ingredients and ready-to-go meals that can be heated up and served in a few minutes. Spending a few hours prepping food on Sundays will save you plenty of time and stress throughout the week.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend most of your weekend in the kitchen preparing meals for the week ahead. From batch cooking to individually portioning meals and making ready-to-cook ingredients, there are many ways to develop an easy meal plan that are suitable for different lifestyle demands and diets. Find a Sunday food prep method that works best for you to facilitate simple meal planning.
Make Easy Weekly Meals With Wildly Organic
Putting home-cooked family meals on the table doesn’t have to be such a burden. With some help and smart planning, you can eliminate the stress of dinner hour and serve your family healthier meals. Use these eight easy meal plan tips to save time and avoid burnout. Browse through Wildly Organic’s simple recipes and shop our high-quality ingredients to make simple meal planning a reality.