Meal Planning – A Huge Time Saver!
I don’t mind cooking, but sometimes I hate trying to figure out what to cook! My husband and I will go back and forth with “What do you want?” to “I don’t know, you pick!”. Then my husband and I throw up our hands in frustration, and end up ordering a pizza. Now, this doesn’t happen every night, but it happens often enough that we have tried to start planning ahead to save time and the inevitable discussion.
Meal planning can save you both time and money—two great reasons to start as soon as possible. Plus, it can give you choices for the week. The first couple of times you try it may take you a little longer, but once you get the hang of it you’ll speed right through it.
Make Your Choices
The internet is a beautiful thing. You don’t have to drag out your old cookbooks—just fire up your computer, tablet or phone and get searching. I did a search for easy meals and found a plethora of choices. One site was Eazy Peazy Mealz.
The site has everything from desserts to breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. She even discusses food containers for storage and reheating.
You can go to a site or just search easy chicken recipes, pasta, beef, etc. Print or mark the ones you want to try. Then grab a piece of paper—or your phone—and make that grocery list. Many of the recipes will have the amounts and approximately how many people it will serve, so adjust as needed for your family.
Most people know about Taco Tuesday, but there are so many fun themes you can plan your week around! Monday can be Italian night; Tuesdays, Tex Mex; Wednesday, burger night, and so on. Within each themed night there are so many options. For example, on burger night you can try turkey burgers, veggie burgers, beef burgers or fish burgers. I just saw Mahi Mahi burgers at a local grocery store.
Get your family involved and let them help pick the food each night so everyone is excited.
Pick Your Prep Day
Ideally, you want to do all of your prep in one day. That way you will be set for the week and not have to worry about your meals. You can do this for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you’d like, or just one meal each day. We typically do dinner this time of year, because we have the time to cook a quick breakfast and make lunch. By the time dinner rolls around, we don’t want to choose, so if it‘s planned…YAY!
Now you can also choose whether you just want to prep your food, and cook it each night, or you can prep and cook it, then reheat it during the week. This is up to you, and depends on your lifestyle.
Do you have the time and energy to cook if it’s all prepped in advance? Or do you want dinner, or any meal, on the table as quickly as possible?
I typically cook each night, but have it planned and prepped. My husband is not big on reheated food, and as I said before, I don’t mind cooking. I can throw it in the oven, or the crockpot in the morning, and then get other things done. But if you’re working long days, or have a schedule that changes, reheating food may be the best choice for you and your family.
The Freezer is Your Friend
Freezer meals are another great option for prepping. The Daily Burn had some great options for breakfast, lunch and dinner items to keep in the freezer. The breakfast sandwiches and breakfast empanadas will be tried this winter in the Kochan house. One thing I personally do is rather than buying frozen waffles, I make a bunch of them, put ‘em in the freezer and pop in the toaster as needed. I use Kodiak Cakes Protein Buttermilk mix. I cook the waffles according to the directions on the box. Then I lay them out until cool. Once they are cooled, I put them in a freezer container or storage bag and pop them in the freezer.
If you like the idea of using the freezer to prep even more, look up freezer options specifically. Some ingredients don’t freeze as well as others. It would be so disappointing, and a waste of money to prep something, freeze it, then it comes out terrible.
It’s best to plan ahead and do research when meal-prepping. It saves time, money, and some much-needed energy!
My Best Friend, the Crock Pot
My brother and his wife went to a class once that taught them about prepping meals for the freezer to dump in their slow cooker during the week. They prepped veggies and meat, put it in freezer bags, froze them, then could toss them in the slow cooker each morning before work. Eureka! Two of my favorite things: meal prep and the Crock Pot! The site, Thirty Handmade Days, has a link for 25 freezer Crock Pot meals with 5 ingredients or less. Just reading the list made my mouth water. I will be trying some of these for sure in the next couple of weeks.
Do you like to meal prep, or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants each day when it comes to food? I’d love to hear some of your ideas.