100 days of Homemaking Skills Series: Day 12 – Tips and tricks to Meal Planning

Meal planning may seem to be a tedious and mundane task. But once you get around doing it ( without procrastinating) the benefits will amaze you. For beginners it may seem extremely boring, but for managing an organized home, this is one of the basic steps. After all, no one wants to scratch their heads planning for a dinner only to find out that you don’t have the necessary ingredients for it. How annoying that would be. The basic elements in planning a meal is deciding the menu and having the ingredients in stock.

If you want to meal plan, then first you ought to know the benefits. Meal planning:

Saves your money – This is entirely based on your mind logic. Once you plan your meals, you prepare a list of items that you need. And when you go shopping, you will buy only the stuffs written on your list. How does this save you money?! Well, there is a human tendency called as ” impulse shopping”. If you do not have a list in hand, you are guaranteed to buy things that you may not require that week or the next. You may pick up a handful of stuffs just because of some recipe you saw online ( but have no plans of making in near future), there might be some discount on some stuffs ( the sale looks huge but you do not like the taste of it) or even the takeaways that you take etc etc. So having a list minimizes the urge to get those extra things and hence saves you money. Isn’t it cool?!

Saves you time – There will be no last minute preparations or rushing through with cooking the meals. Since everything is planned for the week, arrangements can be made accordingly. Saves you time in thinking what to cook as well.

Improves nutrition – Since there will be home cooked meals ( with an occasional take away), your focus will shift towards eating healthy foods instead of the junk foods. Out goes the chips and fries and in comes the healthy veggies and meat.

Tips and tricks for efficient meal planning :

1. Take a pen and paper and make columns for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week. Fill in the menu based on your schedule for those days. For example, if you know you are going to have a busy day on Tuesday, don’t plan on an elaborate meal. Keep it simple. Here are some tricks for you to fill up your columns:

a) Find your 5 star recipes – There are some recipes that your families love so much that it makes up their day. Some recipes which turn out really good that you blush with all the praises. Jot those recipes in a book and keep it handy. Find at least 20 such recipes that your gang adores. Write at least 4 – 5 meals based on this for a week.

b) Try out at least 2 new dishes every week. The internet has millions of yummy recipes which just keeps increasing day by day. Try your hand at something new. Maybe from some other continent or a different country. You never know, you may end up with a family approved meal and may get to include it in a 5 star category.

c) Ask your family what they would like to have. It will be good to know their favorites and will save your mind from a lot of thinking.

d) Plan your day based on theme. For ex Sandwich Saturday’s or Fajita Friday’s or Thali Thursday’s. It will be a fun and interesting concept.

e) Check out deals in your local supermarket. Check out the seasonal stuffs available. Plan your meals around them. You could save a lot of money this way.

f) Include a ‘go out’ day. There is no harm in indulging in a delightful meal once in a week.

2. Now that you have your meal list in front of you, it’s time to go for shopping the ingredients. But before you do that, write down the list of ingredients needed for each meal.

3. Check out your pantry for the ingredients that you have. You may find some other stuffs and may have to slightly change your menu. Stay flexible.

4. Put away your grocery as soon as you come back home. Chop the veggies and keep it ready. Arrange the meat into boxes for one time use. Freeze your items for later use. This will save you the hassle of preparing on that day.

5. Dedicate a day to pre – preparing your meals. For example, make the batters and sauces ready. Store them well. Make a large batch of frequently used stuff and freeze them.

6. Organize your shopping list by the aisle of your supermarket. This will save you time and there will be very little chances of missing out on anything.

Hope you have fun planning your meals! I know, it will be tedious at first but trust me, once you get it into your routine, you will realize how time saving and relaxing it can be.

If you have any other useful tips, do let me know in the comments below.

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