I love good food, but I’m not necessarily great at planning for it, let alone cooking it for dinner. I often text my husband at 2 p.m. and ask “what are you feeling for supper?” and he’ll reply, “I don’t care.”
Or, he’ll walk in the door at 5:45 p.m. and say, “what’s for dinner?” and I’ll reply, “I don’t know.”
I’ll look in our fridge and think, a bowl of fresh fruit? Cereal? No … Panera drive-through? Again? How about Papa Murphy’s? Sigh …
I must end the cycle.
So, I turned to my friends for help!
I started a meal planning group to inspire, motivate and encourage me to feed healthier, well-rounded meals while making the process of planning and cooking less stressful — all while saving money! Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), full-time or part-time working parent — we all share some responsibility in putting food on our tables. And, since we’re all doing some type of meal planning, why not share our ideas and recipes to lighten the load.
Here’s what I did:
- Make a Group List. Brainstorm 3-5 names who enjoy similar foods, live a comparable lifestyle and face like challenges. For example, I’m a beginner cook, SAHM, who follows simple recipes and cooks for a family of four. I also live with a husband who works an unpredictable schedule. And, those dynamics impact what recipes I choose because of the time required to cook and number of heads I’m feeding. I want to meal plan with friends in similar situations.
- Invite Them to Join. I invited my group via text because that’s easier for me — but you could also email or start a Facebook group. My text invite said:
Do you struggle with meal planning? I know we all have to feed our littles and work around husband’s with unpredictable schedules and if you’re like me … meal planning can be hard, time-consuming and sometimes boring.
I’m hoping the four of us would share our plans with each other each week (or as you have time!) for inspiration and motivation. In return, if somebody wants your recipe, just share it!
You can either use your own form or my Meal Planning Template which I can email.
Just reply with a yes or no and introduce yourself with pictures of your kiddos…and let’s get started. 🙂
- Agree on Commitment. Weekly sharing may be too often for some – so be clear on when you expect to hear from members. My group is very relaxed and understands that sometimes a week of cottage cheese, peaches and PB&J is all we can handle so no meal planning necessary. Or, we may be traveling and eating out a lot so the plan is thrown away. But, we try to share our plans weekly to keep us accountable and know that if someone requests a recipe, we respond within that week so they can try it the next.
- Send Recipe Cards. A nice gesture, but not required … consider mailing a packet of recipe cards so your members can write down and save their favorites! Its fun to have a stack of top picks to reference each week and save you time from scrolling through pages online trying to find that perfect dish. Make it a habit to write down that recipe you loved and use it again next month! Before you know it, you’ll have your family go-to meals that are healthy, and easy-to-make because you regularly make them.
- Start Planning. Decide what day you’ll grocery shop and meal plan the day before (or pick a day that works for you). I choose 1-2 new dishes to make and fill in the blanks with meals I know well. Leftovers often count for lunch the next day. Keep in mind when you’ll be home, gone, having guests over, etc. Use a Meal Planning Template to organize your thoughts and grocery list. Bring your template to the store and stick to your list. It’ll save time and money. Once you’ve completed your template, snap a pic and share with your group.
Where do you get your meal planning inspiration? What works for you? Comment below to help a friend out!