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  • Writer's pictureE. Young

Help! I don’t know what to cook for dinner!

I do majority of the cooking in our home. Besides the 4 times a year my hubby cooks, the rest of the nights, dinner falls on me. We are not the type of family who eats out 5 nights a week and eats home cooked meals twice a week. It’s quite the opposite. I cook about 9 days a week and eat out once every 3 weeks. Please tell me that there is someone out there who feels my pain. Yet, meal planning can be our way out of the mundane and into the place of feeling blessed and satisfied!

Step One

Planning for meals used to be a foreign concept to me. My mom made the same type of meal every week. Spaghetti, beans and rice, chicken, and we normally had some type of leftovers. On Saturday or Sunday there would be a BBQ, or some type of meal that we didn’t normally have on a regular basis, and that too, was only sometimes! I also was never taught how to meal prep. I just thought that my mom wanted to do things the easy way.

So, of course, when I moved out, I said to myself that I was not going to cook like that. I was going to have different meals each night and cook whatever I desired for the day. Well, soon after I moved out, got married, and had a baby, I realized that cooking whatever I desired, every day, was more taxing on my day, and my wallet. Maybe moms' easy way out,' was the best way. Why did this seem so difficult?

Sometime after epically failing more than I’d like to admit, I realized that planning was the best way to handle dinner. It took the guess work out of my day and helped me to have everything I needed without having to go to the store in the middle of preparing a meal.

I normally take some time out on a Thursday and write out my menu for the next 7 days. Click here for our blog on Menu Planning and to also receive a free meal planning calendar!

Step Two

Making a menu is key! It helps with the ease and flow of your week, and it helps your family with knowing what to expect. Click here to read our post on menu planning and receive a free menu printout.

The way that I do my menu planning is to look at each day on the calendar for the week and see what we have going on that night. Are friends coming over? Do we have a child’s event one night this week? Are we going to a friend’s house this week? These things I put first on the menu, because any night I don’t have to cook is a WIN for me!!! I then look at any day that I can do a leftover meal. Normally, I like to plan leftover meals for the days that I see are going to be a little busy for me. So, if I can make dinner on a Wednesday and I know we have track practice on Thursday, I will make a leftover meal on Wednesday. Work smarter not harder! Click here to read our post on Meal Planning and receive a free menu planner.

Step Three

Creating the grocery list from here is simple! You just look at the menu and jot down the items that you don’t yet have.

For instance, if you are making French toast for breakfast, you would list all the ingredients you would need to make that meal, not including items that you already have on hand. Same for dinner, like baked chicken, rice, and green beans. I would write chicken and green beans. Normally I always have rice and onions on hand and all the spices I need to make the meal. Green beans are not normally a veggie I have on hand, which is why they would make it to the list.

Now, being that I am the main meal preparer in our home, I normally have an idea of the main staples that we have or need. Those are ones we need to put on the list occasionally, but not each week, because I shop for those at a warehouse grocery store. So, for example, rice, ketchup, ranch, cereal, quinoa only get purchased maybe once a month, if that. However, perishable items get on the list each week. Foods, like apples, milk, eggs, and spinach need to be purchased on a regular basis.

As you can see, it is a little work, yet the benefits of not having to wonder what’s for dinner completely outweigh the few hours it may take to write out a menu and grocery list. Click here for the menu planning calendar to help you get started!

Be Faithful, Be Free

E. Young

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