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1. Get a weekly planner (and use it)
It is important to have a dedicated space to write down what you’re going to make each day. I love using a weekly planner and have this cute floral one that makes me excited to use it each day. The fun little floral drawings and colors just make me happy. (this is the one I have)
What is great about having a dedicated meal planner is that you can make notes on things you need for the meal, write notes on what you thought of the recipe after you have made it or look back on previous weeks to remember exactly what that one recipe was that was so darn amazing.
2. Meal plan at the same time every week
Why at the same time every week? Routine and consistency. I meal plan at 9am on Sundays- I take the time to scroll through my Pinterest food boards and choose what I want to make for the week. As I decide I leave each recipe open in a separate tab along the way.
3. Establish how long you want to cook each day
When I first started meal planning, I would find all these great elaborate meals to cook each day. I would be excited and full of gusto for my meals! Then, when I was finished working an 8 hour day, I would come home- look at my list and not make what I had written. Why did I decide I wanted to cook a meal that takes 2 hours to make on a Wednesday night??
Choose how much time you have for weekday meals and weekend meals and make sure you don’t go over the allotted time. You will thank yourself.
4. Choose a variety of meats across your week
About a month into my meal planning venture my sweet husband looked at me and asked if we could eat something other than Chicken. Turns out I had been making Chicken meals for weeks and he was Chickened out. Fair enough. Now I make sure to mix in Beef, Fish, Pork, Seafood and the occasional Vegetarian meal here and there.
5. In addition to number 4, choose a variety of different Cuisines
As they say, variety is the spice of life. As much as we all want to eat pasta dishes all day everyday, it will eventually get old (trust me!) It is important to mix in different Cultural Cuisines into your meal planning. A little Mexican flair here, some Italian soup there, and an Asian inspired meal to wrap things up.
“My sweet husband looked at me and asked if we could eat something other than Chicken”
6. Try 1 new recipe each week
This can sometimes be challenging, but is very important! Why? There will be times where you are tired of what you have been cooking. We all go through phases of eating a lot of one thing or another and then all the sudden we are sick of it. If you are constantly making a new meal each week, you will continue to add to your approved recipe bank and will have more to fall back on when you ready for something new.
7. Always have a back up (IE LAZY) meal.
There will be days when you come home and just DO.NOT.WANT.TO.COOK. Maybe you have a headache or ate a late lunch. Plan ahead for that. My go-to lazy meal is tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Choose your go-to lazy meal and always have it in stock.
8. Prep your grocery list
Once you have your meals chosen, write out all ingredients and form your grocery list- or be a boss and call them out to the Alexa like I do. Remember how we left all the tabs open for the recipes we are making? Now is a great time to go through and add them all to your shopping list. Should you choose whether to handwrite it or tell Alexa to add Bananas to your shopping list is completely up to you.
9. Be flexible!
There will also be days where you come home and look at your list and think Eww. I do not want Beef and Broccoli tonight. And that is totally okay. Switch it up and cook Friday on Wednesday. You can come back to Wednesday’s dinner on another night. There are times where I may push off one recipe for a week or more. I will eventually cook it, but then usually put that recipe away for a couple months. Clearly I had been over using it.
10. Save recipes that are great for cooking at a later date.
My food board has 250+ pins. There is always a plethora of options for me to choose from, so I never have to get bored with what I am making. It is quite wonderful making a meal that perhaps I have not made in 6 months and getting to enjoy it all over again.
I hope you feel inspired! Comment below and tell me what your meals you are planning for your first week.