Simple, Healthy Dinner Meal Planning

Does dinnertime ever hit in your house, and you haven’t given it a single thought yet? Do you open the fridge hoping for a miraculous idea to pop out as the perfect 2-minute balanced, delicious dinner that everyone likes? This certainly happens in our house, and that miraculous meal has never appeared!

Meal planning has been super helpful in keeping the above situation from happening (too often)! It doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it sounds – planning meals for the week can take just five to ten minutes if you have the right tools.

Over the next couple of weeks, start making a list of meals most members of your family enjoy. Aim for five to ten meals on the list, which would get you through about two weeks if you have some leftover and eating out nights.

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Notice I said “most” family members should enjoy the meals on the list – even if a family member might not like the meal, parts of the meal will probably be acceptable so they can assemble their dinner however they choose using the “parts”. If you want help with “picky eating” or feeding challenges, go to Ellyn Satter’s website, as she is a well-respected registered dietitian and psychotherapist who has helped tens of thousands of families create healthy relationships with food.

Next, find ten minutes to think. I know, this is hard – it will pay off and save time later! Look at your list and figure out which of the meals will fit best in your schedule for the upcoming week. You might put this in your electronic calendar, or be old school and use a planner – whatever works for you! I do a combination of Google calendar with paper weekly planning, and use a simple, no-frills grid – feel free to use it if it works for you! It’s two pages, the first is weekday and the second is weekend.

The next step is to figure out if and when someone can get the groceries to prepare these meals… Meal planning helps so much with saving money and wasting less – don’t buy it unless you know you have the time to prepare it! I have made that mistake many times… If the shopping timeline doesn’t match the meal plan you set up, make some changes so you have a realistic plan!

If you enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, plan this into your week when it fits, making sure to have the ingredients and time you need.

A thoughtful five to ten minutes about the week ahead can set the stage for less stress and more peace at mealtime, and save money!