Meal Planning is something I’m determined to adopt this year. When I plan ahead, especially by utilizing the crock pot, I save myself a great deal of stress and frustration at meal times. I decided to meal plan at the start of the school year and it made our week go much more smoothly. I didn’t plan ahead last week and felt the meal time blues.
Here are 5 benefits of meal planning for my family:
1. Structured shopping trips. I go with a plan and can efficiently navigate the grocery store using a list such as these. This also keeps me on track and prevents me from giving into snacking urges and random purchases.
2. Crock pot saves the day. I like preparing a meal at 10 am when I have the energy and time to devote to the task. The hour before dinner time can be rough for kids and it’s nice to focus my attention their way, rather than at meal prep. Who doesn’t love walking over to the slow cooker at 5:30 pm and just doing a few final preparations?
3. Kids have a say. We’ve designated two nights a week for kids to select our dinner menu (within reason). If we plan ahead together, they feel a part of the process and I am sure to have the right ingredients.
4. Money Savings. Planning ahead helps me keep track of the items we frequently use and purchase them when they’re on sale. It also keeps me on track with our grocery budget and helps eliminate waste from random purchases.
5. Less last-minute shopping trips and eating out. When we plan ahead, there are less last minute trips to a store or restaurant. Planning easy meals for the weekends also keeps us on track with making healthier choices, rather than short-cut foods.
I know that finding new “family friendly” meals can be tricky. We had a few hits and a few misses with our recent meal planning, but here are two recipes that stood out as superior.
The first included these Hawaiian Tacos from the Taste and Tell Blog. They have just the right balance of sweet, with a tiny bit of spice. The ground pork is absolutely delicious and this is ready in 25 minutes. The only person who gave this a thumbs down was my 4 year-old.
The second not only tasted yummy, but looked delicious. We enjoyed the Avocado, Tomato, and Cheese-Topped Chicken (Gluten Free) from Elegantly Gluten Free. I cooked ours in a square baking dish and used black beans as a variation. This received more mixed reviews, but was delicious.
Finally, everyone loved the simple, but tasty Easy Crockpot Lasagna from Tablespoon. I was in a hurry and a bit lazy with my mixing and layering and this still turned out delicious. It also made for great leftovers!
Special thanks to The Organizing Junkie for Meal Planning Mondays! I found most of my recipes for the week through her archives, with links to so many great blogs.