How To Create The Perfect Meal Plan
Meal planning is one of the best ways to both save time and money when it comes to feeding your household. It is simple to do when you know how, but getting started can be a bit tricky. If you are changing your eating habits or wanting to do something a bit different then it can be even harder to know where to start, that is what this guide is for.
In our house, we follow the Trim Healthy Mama plan for our eating. If you don’t know what that is, have a look here. However, this will work for anyone, no matter what their eating plans are.
To start with, make a chart or a notebook page and begin to record what your family eats each day. Most of us eat the same kind of things over and over again and this will help you to build up a record of what they like and what you like to cook. Once you’ve done this for a few weeks, sit down and have a proper look at it.
Things to consider are –
What meals go down well with my family?
What is easy to cook?
What do I do when time is short?
How could I make this meal healthier?
Do we eat out too much?
How could I save money on ingredients?
Is there a pattern to our meals?
Once you have done this, you can sit down with the same blank layout sheets and begin to create a meal plan that works with what you already do. For example, if Friday nights are always rushed, put in that box the meals that are quickest to make. If everyone is home at different times on Monday, choose a meal that can be served at different times to work with schedules like sandwiches with different fillings. If you regularly eat out due to work or other commitments, have a look for ways to make eating at home possible like using a crockpot or saving leftovers from another day.
Schedule just one week at a time and then, at the end of the week, have an honest look at it and see what has worked and what hasn’t worked and make changes for the following week.
Meal planning in this way is also really helpful for planning shopping trips. When you know what meals you are making, you can shop for just the ingredients needed and make more economical choices. This will also cut waste and helps us to be more responsible with our money.
If you are trying to make healthy changes or change your eating to a plan like Trim Healthy Mama then this will be a huge help as you can use it to make the changes needed.
What you do is, make a note for a few weeks of the meals your family likes. Then sit down with blank sheets and look for THM compatible meals. For instance, if Tuesdays is lasagna night, have a look in the cookbook or on pinterest for THM lasagna recipes and then add that to your meal plan. Check what sides would keep it on plan and you have a THM friendly meal that you know your family will eat as it varies very little from their normal routine. The easiest way to make a success of THM is to adapt what you already eat to make it on plan – you don’t need to make massive changes and upset your family just to succeed. Do this meal by meal and suddenly you have your own THM meal plan that you know your family will like – in fact they may not even notice you have put them ‘on plan’!
If you then decide you want to experiment a bit with all the amazing recipes in the cookbook and on pinterest, schedule one day a week as an ‘experiment’ day and try a new recipe or two. If it isn’t popular, then no harm is done. If it is a success, then add it in another time on your menu and you can slowly increase the number of meals and type that your family enjoy and you can cook!
Meal planning doesn’t have to be difficult or involve lots of cookbooks, start with what you already know and do and then build from there. Keep it simple for the best chance of success!
Let me know how it works for you below x