I saw a funny meme recently with a picture of a lady who looked completely overwhelmed and exhausted. Next to her picture, the caption said “Why do they want dinner every single night?” I thought it was hilarious! And it is…because it’s true. Many of us can identify with this woman. Sometimes the thought of dinner planning and cooking (every single night) is just too much. I want to offer some tips and tricks to make it easier!
Gather the Facts
Before you plan your menu, you need some information! Look at your calendar and see what your family is doing that week. If your kids have activities after school, will they need to eat before they go or when they get home? Do you plan to have friends over to watch the game on Saturday? Do you have plans to eat dinner out with friends? You need all of this information before you can plan the menu!
Also, what does the weather forecast look like? Is it going to be 80 degrees all week? Will it rain? Will we finally get some cooler weather? This may seem unnecessary, but it’s super easy! Plus, no one wants to stand outside in the rain grilling hamburgers!
Based on this information, you can get an idea of what type of meals you need. Maybe a crock pot meal on the day you won’t have a lot of time to cook. Or a frozen pizza for the babysitter to bake. Or maybe leftovers on a night when everyone will eat at a different time.
Shop Your Kitchen
Take inventory in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. What ingredients do you already have on hand? Do you have produce that needs to be eaten? Maybe your milk is about to expire. You’ve already shopped and paid for this food, so you might as well utilize it! Use the cherry tomatoes and fresh basil to make a chicken spaghetti. Or make homemade Mac & Cheese to finish off the milk. Try to use up what you already have to make meals!
Create the Menu
Based on your family’s calendar, the weather forecast, and the food you already have, make the menu. I prefer using paper and pen, but you can use your phone or whatever will work best for you. Write out each day of the week, and fill in the meal for each day. You’re not tied to this plan, but at least you will have all the ingredients you need for each meal whenever you decide to make it!
Crockpot meals are great for busy days because you can prepare them ahead of time. Maybe plan to eat out one night in case you need to grab something fast while you are running kids from one activity to the next! Try to pick up one or two super easy dinners at the store so you have a backup!
Remember to keep your schedule in mind, but be flexible! And, if all else fails, fix everyone a bowl of cereal and try again tomorrow!