Coming up with a menu plan for dinner can be a daunting task. We see videos on Facebook of yummy looking recipes, we search on Pinterest for the “Best Ever Recipe” and scour through magazines with beautiful pictures. But how does this actually help us get dinner on the table? It definitely can spark some creativity in us and we would like to try out that new recipe but getting dinner on the table in a timely manner is really what we need to do.
There have been many afternoons when I think about dinner and realize I have no idea what I’m going to be feeding my family that evening. I didn’t plan ahead and now I’m searching Pinterest for a quick recipe that uses chicken and contains only the ingredients that I have in my pantry. Have you been in the same place before? This can take any where from 15-30 minutes of my time just finding a recipe that will work with the ingredients I have available at home. So let’s do some math. If I spend on the higher end of 30 minutes a day searching for a dinner recipe and multiply that by 5 days I have just spent a total of 2 1/2 hours of precious time searching for a recipe-not actually making the recipe! Ahhhhh! That is way too much of my time.
So what can be done to avoid this huge waste of time each day? You guessed it: plan out my dinner meals!
Step #1 in planning dinner meals is to take time for a “brain dump”. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write down any dinner meal ideas you can think of. They can be meals you make or meals you’ve had at a friends house. Just write, write, write. When the timer stops count up your meals. I bet you have at least 15-20 meals on your list.
Now survey your family. Ask them to tell you their favorite dinner meals and add it to the list. Text a few friends and get their favorite dinner ideas. Your list should be getting close to 25. A final place you can get meal ideas from is your cookbooks and Pinterest.
How does your list look? Do you have over 30 meals written down? Just taking 10 minutes to write out all of the dinner meals is a huge time saver!
Step #2 in planning is to organize your list of meals into categories. On a piece of paper make categories for Chicken, Beef, Pork and No Meat. Using your list of dinner meals, separate each meal into its appropriate category. Doing this will help you in Step #3 when you actually place meals on your calendar.
Are you feeling more prepared already? Great! These two steps have only taken about 20-30 minutes of your time. That is a significant decrease from my weekly meal planning time estimate from above.
I’ve created a free printable guide to help in the meal planning process. Go ahead and grab your copy below and join me for PART 2 when we will place meals on the calendar and talk about grocery shopping. Stay tuned!