Despite the fact that Mother Nature can’t seem to decide whether it’s spring, summer, or still winter, all of the warm weather activities have started in Grant County. For my family, that means trips to the ballpark at least twice a week to watch the kids swing bats and chase after baseballs.
I love this time of year: the kids are happy and ready to relax by the time we get home, and cabin fever is definitely behind us. The only problem? I’m ready to relax too, but I don’t want to swing through the drive thru every evening either. So every week, I’ll plan my meals ahead of time and do any prep work that I can beforehand. That way when we drag into the house after another exciting day at the ballpark, dinner is already planned and ready to go in the oven or on the grill. Relaxing is only a few minutes away!
Meal planning is a simple and effective way to save a lot of money each month, not to mention cut down on pricey (and unhealthy) dining out. Serving home-cooked meals to your family not only reduces your grocery budget, it’s a healthy alternative to fast food. Here are a few tips and ideas to get you started:
1. Decide how you want to do your meal planning. Some people like to do bi-weekly, some weekly and a few will plan out monthly meal schedules. If you’re just starting out with this concept, start with weekly planning until you get the hang of it.
2. Make a list of your family’s regular and favorite meals, including side dishes to go along with entrees; for example, spaghetti and meatballs with salad and garlic bread, or tacos and beans.
3. Grab a calendar. Sit down with it and the list of meals. Start by designating each day a specific meal (Monday-meatless, Tuesday-casserole, etc.), to make it easier to plan your meals around certain days. But don’t be too set on the plan; make sure you can switch around dinners if schedules change and unexpected meetings come up.
4. Create your grocery list around your set meal plan. Check your pantry and freezer to make sure you don’t place duplicate items on your list if you already have them on hand. Scout your grocery store ads for sales on the items you need.
So that’s the plan I work with every week to avoid too many trips to fast food. Once you get started, it becomes a part of your routine, and trust me, it really does save time, stress and money. Then, when you do decide to order a pizza or pick up a bucket of chicken, it’s a treat.
Want some quick and easy recipe ideas for your busy week nights? Check me out on Pinterest or Facebook - I’m not a chef, but I’ll share my successes and failures! I’m Claire, the Afena blog mom. Thanks for reading.