Day Five: Plan Meals a Month in Advance, At Least
You’ve probably heard numerous writers and cooks espouse the idea of meal planning. Perhaps you already do plan meals, a week in advance or so. But I would encourage you at least once to try drafting 30 days of dinners. If you want extra credit plan lunches and breakfasts too. But since I work outside the home full time and don’t want to tear my hair out, I stick with a month of dinners.
I’m not hitting the drive-thru out of desperation at 6 p.m. as frequently as I used to because there’s no thought involved in what’s for dinner. There’s an advanced directive.
- Meal planning has saved my sanity and our household budget.
- I’m being more creative with family dinner time
- We’re eating healthier
- We’re communicating more. I remember to ask the kid and the husband what they’d like to have in the upcoming month.
- We’re eating more seasonal fare because I’m thinking about what’s in season when drafting the list.
I was once resistant to the idea of planning even a month of dinners in advance. I thought I could never manage it. But now that I’ve been doing it, I love it and can’t imagine going back to the old way, which was spending several minutes every afternoon when I’m worn out from work trying to figure out “what to make for dinner.”
The menu plan is just that, a plan. It’s there to help save time and energy and expenditures. If we want to get pizza instead of having what I’ve got planned, we get pizza, it’s no biggie.
Plus, I find myself trying more recipes because I can arrange a good balance of quick and easy dinners during a week with one or two nights of “experimenting.”
I generally draft the month of dinner ideas in a yellow legal pad. Sometimes I just repeat the previous month. Planning has made me organize our week’s meals in a way that makes sense. For example the first half of the week generally are the busiest times for me and they involve work nights in addition to work days :). So, we’ve turned Monday nights into leftover nights. So when I’m making the menu plan, I know to schedule a dish for Saturday and or Sunday, which is going to result in leftover or in leftover food that can be repurposed into another easy meal.
Do you meal plan? How far in advance? Do you use paper and pen or have you joined the digital age?