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Meal time can be a stressful time of the day. It’s not easy to figure out what to make for dinner every night, especially when you are busy working and caring for your family too.
Preparing meals doesn’t have to be stressful. Planning meals ahead of time takes a lot of the guesswork out of what to have for dinner every night.
Make a List
Before you make your menu plan, sit down with your family and make a list of all your family’s favorite meals. Make sure every family member gets his or her favorites on the list. You will be surprised at how many different meal ideas you can come up with when you take the time to write them down.
Post the list in a conspicuous place, like on the refrigerator, so everyone can see it. This list may even be all you need to inspire you some weeknights. Make sure to keep ingredients for several of your favorite meals on hand so that any member of your family can look at the list and find a meal to prepare quickly.
If you sit down every week and make a menu plan for the week, you will take much of the guesswork out of your dinner preparations for the week. Yes, you will still have to prepare the meals, but you won’t be looking around the kitchen trying to figure out what to make for dinner every night.
If your family has a busy schedule, as many families do, then also plan your meals around family activities. Plan quick meals for busy evenings and plan recipes that take longer to prepare for the weekend. Weekends are also a great time for experimenting with new recipes.
For most families, a weekly menu is adequate. It cuts down trips to the grocery store too, since you can then shop for the whole week all at one time and not make several trips to the store during the week.
If you want to plan out even further in advance, try planning meals for two weeks. Most families have at least two weeks of different meals that they enjoy. You can also factor in the use of leftovers…you don’t have to prepare a completely new meal every single night.
If money is an issue, then plan your meals around the coupon flyers that come out in your newspaper every week. Make your meal plan for the week when the flyer comes out and then shop for the items that are on sale that week.
Stock up on your most used food items like ground beef, chicken, etc. Shop at local warehouse stores and grocery wholesalers. Check your local yellow pages for all your grocery shopping options. There are even wholesalers out there that don’t require you to pay a membership fee and their costs are substantially lower than regular grocery stores.
If you don’t want to have to cook every night but don’t want to go out to eat, if you have extra freezer space you can prepare meals ahead of time and then just thaw them out and heat them when you are ready to eat them. Many casseroles freeze well. You can make two or three, eat one now, and freeze the others for later.
If you are interested in freezer meals, there are many free online resources available to help you get started. Some people really like this option, then you even have extra meals to give to others when they are in need.
Preparing a weekly menu can greatly reduce the stress you experience when trying to figure out what to make for dinner every night. A few minutes of planning every week can save you time and money too.