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If I have learned one thing about motherhood and being a mom, it is that I need to be organized. This is key for me and for my family. So many times before Little Miss was home, meals would be a last minute scramble. You probably know that conversation – “What do you want for dinner?” “Hmmm, I don’t know…….let’s just go out.” When it was just the two of us, we could easily go out for dinner at 8 p.m. and not think twice about it. It was easy then, but now family dinner time is one of my favorite parts of the day. I learned, though, that I need to plan, be prepared, and be ready. Little Miss sometimes has a melt-down when I am cooking dinner, so I have learned to follow the code, “always be prepared” when it comes to meal planning.
I have some easy tips on meal planning today that I thought I would share. Not only do I need to be more prepared since a little one is in the mix, but we have been eating healthier this past year, and that takes a little more planning. I cannot wait till dinner time to start planning what we will eat that evening. There needs to be a plan already in the works.
My first suggestion is to sit down once a week and write down a menu for the week. Make a shopping list at the same time. I like to do this first thing Monday morning before anyone is awake. I made a free printable weekly menu that I print out and take to the store. I browse through some cookbooks and online sites and pick recipes that are tasty and healthy. I also want the meals to make enough so that Yankee can take leftovers with him to work. Before I do my grocery shopping, I take a quick look in my cabinets and pantry to make sure I don’t buy something I already have and to make sure I haven’t missed something I don’t have.
My second suggestion is to cook once but eat twice.
We have a few special recipes that our family loves. Luckily, they freeze well, so I can double the recipe and freeze enough for another day. Chili and pulled barbecued chicken are two that come to mind. Both of these recipes can be prepared in a slow cooker which makes those meals even easier.
My third suggestion is to prepare healthy snacks to have on hand.
Since we have been on a healthier kick and since I want to introduce good eating habits to Little Miss, I like to prep snacks and have them ready to go in the fridge. Carrots are a huge hit for everyone in our home. It is easy enough to prep some one evening and have them and celery sticks ready for quick snacks when we are trying to hold out for a meal.
My fourth suggestion is to have cut onions, garlic and celery on hand.
We are a soup family, and this time of year I am making a lot of soup. When I prep my snacks, I like to go ahead and cut up some onions, garlic, celery so it is already prepped when I am ready to make some soup. This tip helps save time in the dinner department.
My fifth suggestion is to have the right storage containers on hand. Enter Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™. Food storage containers are in our lives to make life easier, and I need a brand that works and can be trusted. Before I started using Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE, Yankee had a few food mishaps when he took leftover soups to work for his lunch. The soups leaked creating one hot mess and left him with nothing to eat. Now that I am using Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™, he hasn’t had that problem. What sold me on these containers was the 100% Leak Proof, Guaranteed. Yankee’s soup mishap is the number one reason I use them, but they have lots of great qualities that separate them from your typical food storage containers.
They are also so sturdy and stack perfectly in the refrigerator and freezer. The container is crystal clear making it easy for me to see what is inside. Since chili is a favorite of mine, I love that these containers are stain and odor resistant. Until I started using them, my other storage containers were full of unappetizing stains. The Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™ has a great 10 piece set that is available nationwide at Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Amazon and other fine retailers. I am so glad that they became part of my food storage routine.
I hope these tips for meal planning will help you in the meal department. Do you have any other tips that are helpful in meal planning? We would love to hear them.