Every night the same scene played out at my house.
It was 5 o’clock; I stood in front of the refrigerator wondering what to make for dinner again. The kids were getting hungry and restless. As I stared at the food I thought, I hate this time of day.
I walked back and forth to the pantry and waited for the audible voice of God to tell me what to cook. I heard nothing. 20 minutes went by and I was still pacing back and forth trying to decide what to feed to my family. My children, now cranky, yelled from the other room, “Mommm, when are we going to eat?”
Spontaneity worked when it was just my husband and me. I could get away with “playing it by ear” when I had only one child - but now with three little ones, it seemed impossible. Something had to change.
Meal Planning is one of the best things I did to bring peace to my home.
There are other benefits too:
• Meal planning saves time.
Walking circles in my kitchen might be burning calories, but it wasn’t filling our bellies. A plan eliminates indecision. No more rummaging through your pantry or ringing your neighbor’s doorbell for ingredients you need…only to find out you still don’t have what you need to cook the meal you’ve finally chosen. Not only do you save time at home, but at the grocery store too. You reduce time in the store by not making meal choices on the fly and backtracking to grab forgotten items.
• Meal planning saves money.
I lowered my energy bill because I no longer stood in front of an open fridge for 20 minutes with a blank stare on my face. However, the real savings come at the grocery store. A plan prevents impulse spending because you have a list of exactly what you need. You can feel confident buying sale items in bulk because the food will not go to waste; you’ll plan the meals around the food you already have.
• Meal planning improves your family’s nutrition.
My family would be perfectly content eating pasta with a cheesy sauce every night. A plan gives you a big picture. You can immediately identify what’s missing from your diet or what you are eating too much of.
Where to start:
- Set aside time once a month to create your plan.
- Fill in family commitments. What nights of the week are you out of the house because of sports or music lesson? Pick slow cooker or no-fuss meals those days.
- Check to see what you already have in your pantry. What can you combine to make a meal? What needs to be eaten?
- Take into consideration what’s in season or on sale.
- Visit your plan weekly to create a shopping list. Organize it by the aisles of your favorite grocery store.
- Make revisions based on changes in your schedule or leftover ingredients that need to be used to prevent spoil.
- Populate the plan with family favorites. Ask your husband and kids for ideas.
- Add new recipes. I have pinned a bunch I can’t wait to try.
- Save old menus so they can be repeated.
- Leave a day open for leftovers or eating out.
Still need a hand?
Creative ideas, templates, and printables are available online. You can find some on my Pinterest Menu Planning board and others as well.
If you love technology like I do, check out some of the many apps available for your smart phone or tablet. Some of these apps have an interface for computers as well. My favorite one is Menu Planner. Once my meals are in the calendar, a shopping list is generated at the push of a button.
Knowing what my family is going to eat each night has done wonders. The kitchen is now free of anxiety when the clock strikes five. I am able to enjoy making meals for my loved ones simple because I have a plan.
What about you? Do you have a plan? What are your tips for meal planning?
With a background as an interior designer Kimberly Amici has is unique in her ability to be both creative and practical. Now a stay-at-home mom she still enjoys exercising her creative muscles. After God, her very active family is her top priority. Kimberly seeks to live a life that is spirit led with her husband Carl and their three young children in the NYC suburbs. She blogs about her journey to discover the sweet spot of God’s success for everyday life at Living in the Sweet Spot.