Have you ever dreamed of becoming the next Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay or Rachael Ray?
If you’re a chef, then the answer is obvious.
But in this day and age, not just chefs but more and more parents are turning to simple ways to solve their problems in the kitchen:
Of course meal planning for a household is much different than for a restaurant.
Meal planning for family calls for major personalization and simplification.
Parents understand this because they also understand the frustrating and stressful demands.
In fact, preparing meals could easily be one of the most tedious household chore routines.
Meal planning may not be something you are used to, but we can assure you that it has great benefits for you and your family. What’s more, meal planning is easy to do if you follow a simple approach.
If you are ready to start meal planning, here you have 8 essentials of meal planning that will simplify your life.
When starting meal planning you will require consistency, so it is very important to have goals, without goals it will be easy to break consistency.
Having clear goals is key to meal planning because it influences all other elements.
For instance, if your goal is diet but not so much so costs, your meal plan will evolve around fresh balanced range of foods. However, if you focus on time saving, healthy but easy to prepare meals will be key to you.
Goals will help you simplify by focusing on the areas and approaches that are important and work for you. Goals are essential to any planning, and meal planning is not the exception.
Knowing your and your family’s preferences and needs are crucial to meal planning.
It may seems obvious that preferences and needs are essential to meal planning, but it is tricky to include them all in our meals, especially when preferences and needs are changing overtime.
We’ve all been there, and it is not realistic to prepare a meal for each family member, but our preferences and needs are key inputs to the meal planning process, and knowing them reduces options when experiment with new meals or ingredients.
Understanding our preferences and needs helps us to be successful with the meals we prepare.
Another key aspect of meal planning is co-creation.
Co-creating the meal plan with your family means involving your family members in the creation of the meal plan, this can be achieved by letting them decide which meals they want to eat out of a range of options you can come out with.
Or another simple strategy is to let the family members decide the days of the week they want to eat a particular meal.
Co-creation is key to meal planning not just because it make it easier to simplify upfront the decision of what to eat, but also because it creates a sense of common responsibility when it comes to preparing the meals.
Estimating what you need to prepare your meals is indispensable for successful meal planning.
Estimating is essential to come up with more accurate quantities of ingredients you need to prepare your meals, but also in cooking no more than the necessary to feed your family.
You will be surprised to know that an average household wastes up to 25% of their food.
This waste can be significantly reduced, by planning the number of times we are going to repeat a meal and calculating necessary quantities of ingredients required to prepare the meals for the whole family.
Considering dislikes is compulsory when planning our meals.
By knowing the dislikes we avoid cooking meals we know they are not going to be eaten, simple right?
However we’ve all been guilty of coking meals using ingredients we know some of our family’s members don’t like, hoping that they will develop the taste for it 😊.
Reality is that we don’t change tastes overnight, and considering dislikes is key to approach our planning differently.
For instance we could slowly introduce certain ingredient we want our family to eat combined with ingredients we know for sure they like.
Another significant part of meal planning is creating a list of favorite meals.
Keeping a list of favorites removes the complexity of searching for new recipes every week.
Meal planning is not about searching for new recipes very often, as long as you can have a repertoire of 15 to 20 healthy meals to rely on, you could easily rotate them weekly.
Keeping a list of favourite meals will simplify the process of selecting the meals you want to plan.
It is absolutely necessary to have a frequency for planning your meals.
More important if you are just starting.
You heard it before, it takes in average 2 months for a new behaviour to become automatic.
In the overall context 2 months is not that long, after all, we are going to be cooking meals for the rest of our lives 😊 , so it make sense to make this process easy and set a frequency for planning our meals.
It could be every one or two weeks, during weekend, at the start of the week or half-way through it, you choose what’s best for you depending on your life style.
A meal plan is not complete if it does not have the list of ingredients you need to prepare your meals, hence the list of grocery is essential to meal planning.
Most parents who have experience in meal planning do their grocery shopping purposefully, they’ve learned that it is more than just scheduling meals during the week but it is also about organizing and simplifying the time-consuming activity of grocery shopping.
Saving money, reduce waste and even saving time are direct benefits of having an organized grocery list produced out of your meal plans.
You can start creating your grocery list manually and decide later if you need a simpler way to generate your grocery list if needed.
A great meal plan calls for sharing, print or digital version, share it with your whole family.
It is a great way to create enthusiasm and everyone knows the answer to the “what’s for dinner?” question.
Sharing the meal plan is especially important when chores are shared, parents can agree to share the load of grocery shopping or meal preparation activities during the week. This aspect of meal planning simplifies meal preparation from grocery to cooking by sharing responsibilities.
Sharing the meal plan is an important aspect of meal planning that as simple as it sounds - it cannot be underestimated.