Feeding Our Families What’s Left in the Fridge (Easy Meal Planning Tips)

Let’s face it, some days we look in our fridge and feed our families what is left in there.

Some days I can meal plan and I’m on a roll … then there are those days where I’m in a meal planning rut. Tired of meal planning, tired of eating the same ole meals, tired of spending oodles of money on food that is wasted. Some days I have to be my own motivation.

“I will be great this week and conquer the task of meal planning to make sure my family has home cooked meals and avoid the normal nightly drive thru window.”

LOL, yeah right, occasionally that lovely meal plan does not go as planned. So here are my tips for meal planning made easy(ier).

1. There is no “PERFECT” meal planning system except the one that works for YOUR FAMILY.

I searched Pinterest and Instagram for countless hours for that meal planning system that was pretty and functional. I hopped on multiple accounts over and over again only to realize that particular meal plan would never fly in my household (mainly for me because I am such a picky eater).

2. Use my 3 / 3 / 3 rule.

Search/stalk the web for 3 minutes and find 3 recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Talk about a time saver. Set a timer and get to searching. You’d be surprised how much can be done in 3 minutes. This will help you incorporate a new recipe for more variation in your meal plans.

3. Decide your timeline and what YOU really have time for.

Do you want to meal plan daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, or bimonthly (Go you, but I’ll stick with monthly planning). Look at your family’s activities and work schedules to determine the amount of time you will actually have to spend preparing the meal. Example: If you work 8-5 on Monday, you don’t want to start cooking a pot of gumbo at 6pm; a crockpot meal would be more appropriate. Ask yourself if you will be meal planning only for dinner or will you also include breakfast and lunch. 

4. All About a theme

Theme nights make mealtime fun, exciting, and it also breaks up the norm.

Create theme food nights and allow the kids to be involved. They are more likely going to want to eat the food that you prepared if they had a decision in that meal.

Some Ideas:

  • Meatless Monday, Mexican Monday, Momma’s tired Monday (cereal night)
  • Taco Tuesday (probably 99.999% of households LOL)
  • Wacky Wednesday (new recipe), Wing Wednesday
  • Try Something New Thursday, Traditional Thursday (red beans, gumbo)
  • Pizza and Movie Friday, Burger Friday
  • Soup and Sandwich Saturday
  • Restaurant Sunday, Salad Sunday, Slow Cooker Sunday
  • Pasta Night
  • My personal fave is COOL (clean out our leftovers) Friday!!!

5. Cook once, eat multiple times

This tip is the ultimate LIFE and TIME SAVER. My personal goal is to strive to not have to start from scratch every during mealtime.

-Cook in bulk (double or triple recipes to freeze for a later date)

-Overlap ingredients

Example: Cook pulled pork and veggies on Sunday, and then on Monday, have pulled pork potatoes, Tuesday have pulled pork taco, and if you’re lucky to have more pulled pork, have pulled pork sandwiches … now thats prepping and cooking like a BOSS!!

6. Be realistic.

I struggled with this one, especially when my hard work to create and plan did not go as planned because LIFE HAPPENED and that PTO meeting was moved or soccer practice was cancelled. In addition, I did not want to scratch out on my pretty meal plan. Oh well, it is what it is and things happen. Look at your schedules and plan accordingly. Start off the week with an easy meal. I would love to prepare my family a 5 course meal at mealtime but “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

7. Grab a piece of  paper and pen

Now you have your recipes, your kids’ suggestions, your budget, and when you want to meal plan. Time to print off a free calendar, grab a sheet of paper, or write it in your fancy Plum Paper, Happy Planner, or Erin Condren planners. It does not matter what you have, just put your meal plan on paper! 

Grab THIS template to help get you started!

How often do you meal plan? Where is your favorite place to find new recipes?

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