Meal planning is the best invention ever… Ok ok, it seems a bit exaggerated. But let me tell you that if you’re anything like me, someone with a busy schedule who cooks most days of the week, who is an entrepreneur with a husband and two children, one being a picky eater, you’ll definitely need planning. But even if your household’s structure is different than mine, meal planning can be life saving.
It took me time to realize that preparing meals for the week could be less stressful if I just gave meal planning a try. I used to grocery shop like a mad woman and although I always brought a list with me it was not written based on the meals of the following week. In fact it used to be like “I’ll just grab what’s missing in the house even if it’s not needed because I may feel like using this any day.” Guess what??? Tons of food going to waste and me feeling guilty.
This is how I’ve started and still do it till this day. First take note of how much you spend on groceries, let’s say for about 3 months, you can do it for a couple of months longer if you feel more comfortable. By doing this you’ll have a clear idea of your household’s groceries’ budget. Then set the money aside for this task. For groceries in particular I use the envelope method, and since I shop weekly, I divide the budget by four. In addition, you have to decide on either a weekly or monthly meal planning. I’ve tried both and I came to the conclusion that weekly works best for our family. I always take into account eating out days, or days that some of us or all are traveling as well as holidays or even dinners or parties taking place at home. In general, anything that can interfere with our regular routine.
I suggest that you involve everyone and ask each family member what would they like to eat to ensure that the menu is balanced and makes everybody happy. My older daughter for example prefers rice and my youngest pasta, so I would cook pasta one day of the week and rice another. Another thing I recommend although we’re not vegetarians, is to always plan for at least one “no meat meal day”, one fish day and a soup day. For the latter, homemade bean soup is a favorite among us. Now make a list of the necessary ingredients and let’s do some groceries. Try to be specific, especially with fresh produce that can go to waste early. No stressful cooking at its best. Bon Appétit!!!