Meal Planning can be a scary thought. What is the best way? How do I get started? Do I have to find new recipes? It does not have to be so scary if you just take it one step at a time and follow our simple tips.
A Meal Journal is a great way to get started. Your journal can be a spiral notebook, a store bought planner, or scratch paper in a binder. Your journal will evolve as we go through all of our meal planning tips over the next few weeks so don’t worry about creating the perfect layout.
The first step for your meal planning journal is to record the meals you are already eating, and that your family enjoys. Take 20-30 minutes to sit down and write any meals that you can recall from the last few weeks. Include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks if possible. If you are feeling ambitious you can even sort them (more on sorting later). It is ok if you can’t remember all of your meals, don’t stress about it. You will continue to log meals your family eats over the next couple weeks to add to your meal library. If you come across any new recipes that you would like to try , jot them down on their own page.
The meals that you are recording will become your base for planning your future meals. You will, of course, add new things and maybe remove others as you go through your meal planning journey, but a good base will make your planning easier. Why plan a week of brand new things and over stress yourself, when you have tried and true favorites on standby? Sorting your meals will be a big help for future planning as well. You can sort in columns, on different pages, or just as a code letter to each item (B=Breakfast, S=snacks/sides, etc.). There are many categories you can sort by, some options are: cooking style (slow cooker, stove, oven, and grill), base ingredient (chicken, beef, pork, and pasta), Prep/cooking time (quick meals, 1-2 hr meals, all day meals). Sort by whatever you feel is going to work best for you.
That wasn’t so bad right? You are well on your way to becoming an expert meal planner. Keep your journal handy and keep recording your meal options and you will be all set for our next tip: Starting your meal calendar.