The Inquisitive Mom: Learning as We Grow

5 Benefits of Meal Planning

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Sep 10, 2013 Cooking, meal planning 5 Comments

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.



Comments

  • Parenting Patch
    Sep 10, 2013 at 7:41 pm Reply

    I tried menu planning but just do not have the time or energy to devote to the process. I have a number of go-to meals though.

  • Jill
    Sep 11, 2013 at 10:19 am Reply

    Sometimes just a general idea of what you will do works better than laying it all out there. We would end up saying ‘ugh no one wants hot dogs’ for 2 weeks and then all the sudden all we have left is hot dogs. lol.

    but if we planned out a rough week within a month and just said okay for Sunday meals we have x, y, z, and p… then eventually we’d mark those out until only x was left, etc.

    having a day for a theme worked okay for a while, too. a less specific theme (like crock pot) would definitely be helpful. I had sandwich, pasta, taco/Mexican for a while and it got to be too many tacos for me, and too much spaghetti but the rest of my family was happy, so I let it go at that.

    we’re waiting on a meat order (the store is closing and I am NOT happy)… as it is so we’ve been doing a bit of this and that and it’s wearing on me because I’m not pre-planning…

  • Jennifer Robbins
    Oct 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm Reply

    I have been trying to practice making meal plans as well! It’s been about 2 weeks thus far, and it’s been going really smoothly! It is Amazing! how well things work when I have a meal plan all mapped out. Plus, we have reduced our grocery bill by about 30 to 50 percent each week! It’s been great.

  • Scianda Long
    Nov 27, 2013 at 7:08 pm Reply

    Meal planning is one of those things I like to tell people I do, but don’t actually. I’m pretty good about keeping some basic supplies in the kitchen though. And it’s all irrelevant anyway since my man-creature does all the cooking in our house. Every time I try I manage to mess up one small but crucial detail.

  • Pat @ Elegantly, Gluten-Free
    Apr 18, 2014 at 1:14 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for trying my recipe for Avocado, Tomato and Cheese-Topped Chicken — I think black beans would be delicious with it.
    Happy meal planning!
    Pat

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