Yesterday…. was Saturday. Each Saturday morning, I get up to the task of menu planning for the week. As I sit with my cup of coffee and a blank menu planning sheet, I feel the same old feelings of being overwhelmed with the task of feeding my family. Gluten, soy, dairy, egg, peanut, mushroom free planning is not simple, especially when combined with the fact that there are three other members of the family that want to eat real, delicious food. Oh, the stress!
Once I get past that initial wave of frustration, I tend spend too much time scouring cookbooks and websites for meal ideas that fit our particular situation. This, is the reason I want/need this website! I want to build it up to contain all those recipes, to be able to search for recipes without eggs or whatever else I’m looking for. I hope that eventually, it will be user friendly enough for all of you to do the same for your particular allergies or nutritional needs.
Moving on…how to meal plan for a busy family and not buy a bunch of pre-packaged foods with a hundred ingredients you can’t pronounce? Here’s the plan that I follow for each week:
1. Get a menu planning sheet (or piece of paper and write down the days of the week). Record nights that you have events or appointments, right on the sheet, so you keep those in mind when you plan your meals.
2. Assess the goods you have on hand already (freezer, pantry, refrigerator) and which goods you want to use for the week. Make sure they are incorporated into your next choices.
3. On nights you will be busy, plug in a frozen meal (try to always make double batches of soup and chili, or other freezer-friendly meals), crock-pot meal, or a night for leftovers.
4. Try a couple of new recipes on nights when you know you will have time to devote to them. For me, it’s usually Sunday night and the beginning of the week.
5. Fill in the rest of the evenings with stand-bys you know your family likes. For us, grilled sandwiches, a big chef salad or tacos.
6. Once you have all the dinners planned, think ahead to breakfast items you might need to prepare ahead, like a batch of muffins or extra pancakes to put in the freezer, for easy mornings.
7. Do you want any snacks for the week? Maybe a batch of snack bites, homemade PURE bars, or simply bags of trail mix (nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, etc.). We always prep sliced veggies in ziplocs for snacks and easy lunch add-ins, too.
Now…… make your grocery list, making sure to include the ingredients you need to make all of the recipes you have decided on. While this step takes awhile, you will have no need to eat out or run to the store during the week, which will save you time and headaches later on 🙂
While none of this is ‘easy’, being prepared for the week with a bit of planning can make it all doable. Make it a great week!