Meal planning can be a daunting task. Add in family tastes and a calorie-reduced menu, it can seem a little intimidating. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be and it can also be a lot of fun! With a little prep and getting the kids involved, you’ll have your next two weeks’ menus set in a flash.

Step 1: The Calendar!

The calendar should be your guide to meals. Chances are, it’s full of appointments and family activities already – adding in the nightly menu takes the guesswork out of meal prep. Ask the kids to participate and incorporate themes into your meal planning effort. If you know you consistently have a late day every week, make that your “leftover specials” night. You can even put a checkmark next to meals that the family enjoyed and inject that in as a repeat meal for future weeks.

Step Two: Cook Perishables First!

Use up your perishables earlier in the week so they don’t go to waste. If you know you may be looking to make a healthy lasagna later in the week, pick up frozen spinach or other frozen veggies/fruits. That way you will still get the healthy balanced meal to keep you on track.

Step Three: Keep A Running List on the Fridge

Knowing what you have an don’t have on hand in a handy location will help prevent you from buying duplicates and also help keep you on track for future meals in the week. Make this list a household habit! If you run out of something, make a point of adding it on the list before you forget. It’s one extra little step that will save you time when you’re grocery shopping.

Step Four: Keep Your Freezer Stocked!

If you find cooking during the week consistently isn’t ideal, plan to do a big meal prep on Sunday. Freeze “mains” such as low-calorie pasta dishes and add in fresh perishables to your mains. It takes the hassle out of cooking but ensures you are staying on track with your calories and are not tempted to order in.

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