***Now, this is the second part in this “In the Kitchen” series, so if you’d like an introduction, click here.
Ok ladies. I’m here today to help tackle what is probably the biggest, scariest, hardest thing for people to wrap their minds around…
To start off, I want to dispel that myth…
It’s really not scary or hard at all! Once you’re armed with the tools and know-how, menu planning becomes your BFF.
It’s really the best tool in your arsenal to help you tackle any of your food-related goals: healthy eating, weight loss, budget cutting, reducing the drive-thru trips, lowering food waste, getting dinner on the table quicker, etc.
First things first…
Shop Your Kitchen
I would put money on a wager saying that 9 out of 10 of us have plenty of food in our homes to feed our families plenty of meals.
The pantry, cupboards, fridge, and freezers usually house at least a few items that could stand to get used up…
So go through your inventory and see what you have. If you need to, make a list.
Sometimes I do this, sometimes I don’t. It all depends on my mood. When I do make one, it tends to look something like this…
Once you’ve finished surveying what you have in the house to work with (or garden! I can’t wait to be able to add that column to my list again!), move on to the next step.
Take a Gander at the Calendar
Take a look and see what obligations you have for the week…
Are there any nights that you are going to be getting home late and need a fast supper?
Need a grab and go dinner to get eat on the run or once you’ve gotten to the game?
Maybe you’ve got a date night in and want to make something special…
Take note of those things as you continue on to the next step.
Make a Menu
Using the knowledge of what you have on hand as well as what obligations you have that week put together a master plan.
What are you able to make using primarily the ingredients you have in your house?
Do you have everything you need for nachos, just missing the chips?
How about skillet lasagna?
Baked mac and cheese with grilled chicken?
When you actually take a moment, you’d be surprised at all the meals you could create with what you already have on hand.
I keep mine posted on a whiteboard on the fridge in the kitchen. That way my husband can see it (and protest in advance if there is a dinner he’s not too keen on…before I’ve already put in the effort to make it), and I’m able to remind myself quickly what the plan is for that night/the next day/whenever.
Okay, now let me walk you through what an actual week could look like…
My “week” for meal planning starts on Sunday.
For this example week, I’ve simplified my life by making a pork roast dinner (in the slow cooker!) on Sunday.
The leftover pork will be used for the carnitas burrito bowls on Tuesday (just toss some of the shredded meat into a skillet with taco seasoning and voila – instant carnitas!), as well the fried rice bowls on Saturday.
When I make the chicken for the chef salads on Monday, I’ll make an extra breast to use for the chicken salad sammies on Friday.
Wednesday we’re going to be rolling in the door pretty late due to some obligations, so I’m making the quickest dinner of all- BLT’s using extra bacon I cooked from breakfast and rinsing off a hearty bunch of grapes.
Thursday is pizza night. I’ll be honest, we make homemade pizza or flatbread around here usually once a week. It’s how I hide a lot of leftovers (shhhhhh…do
All right, time to wrap this up! Final step!
Make a List…Check it Twice
Take a look at your meals.
What are the ingredients you need to complete them?
If you take a look at my menu board picture, you’ll notice that I keep a running list on the upper left. That way if someone eats something for a snack that was intended for supper, or we run out of the necessities (
***Bonus Tip! For those of you like me who make grocery lists and then don’t realize until you’re at the grocery store that you’ve forgotten it at home, there is an app for your phone called Keep (for Android).
It allows you to make multiple lists for whatever you need, check them off as you’re done/bought it, and double check things on the completed list in case you think you’ve removed something by accident. It’s been a lifesaver for me more than once!
Menu planning will be a handy tool to have in your bag of tricks as we go further down the rabbit hole known as the kitchen.
If you have any questions about how to implement meal planning, just let me know in the comments!
I love playing the “what can I make with X, Y, and Z” game! So feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to answer each one!
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