4 I’s to Meal Planning
One of the things I miss most about my cooking business is the fun of planning meals! When I had the business it forced me to plan meals far in advance and even though I probably spent way too many hours sorting through my recipes and picking just the right combinations, I enjoyed it!
Life can get busy and I have found that if I do not at least start the week with a plan, I can get off track rather quickly. And I’m reaching for non-balanced or fast food alternatives. However, this year I have tried to be more intentional about meal planning and I thought I’d share a few of my meal planning tips:
1. Input: Ask for suggestions from the family. If they are invested, the more likely they are to help and enjoy it.😊
2. Inventory: I look in the freezer and see what meats and veggies are already available. I also look to the weekly sales ad. Sale items can be an inspiration to main or side dishes. It’s also a great time to stockpile staples that are on sale.
3. Invest: Write it down. I know it sounds so simple but my written plans seem to have a better success rate than the ones floating around in my head. Pull recipes and create a grocery list of needed items. Written plans also help you work ahead. (Thawing proteins, cutting vegetables ahead of time, etc.)
4. Implement: Get your ingredients, do as much prep ahead of time, and enjoy!
My meal plan this week is pictured below. I’ll walk you through my steps below👇🏻
1. Input: My daughter wanted steak and had some ideas about rice dishes, my husband wanted salmon patties and my son wanted to try a pizza waffle breakfast sandwich. Pizza for breakfast? I can get behind that!
2. Inventory: Chicken breasts are on sale this week at both grocery stores I usually shop. So, I’ll be making a few chicken dishes and buying some to freeze. Grapes are on sale, so my mind automatically goes to chicken salad when both of those items are on sale! Top loin steaks are on sale at Kroger for $4.99/lb, yes, please! We have beef in our freezer but my daughter loves steak and our supply is a little low, so at this price, it’s a great time to stock up!
3. Invest: I wrote out my ideas, based on the suggestions and available products. I made a grocery list of needed items in the layout of the store so I’m not circling aisles for a forgotten item. I evaluate the schedule for the week to see when I might need slow cooker meals or when I’ll have a little extra time for preparation and fill in the meals for each day of the week accordingly.
4. Implement: Sunday’s are grocery days so I have my list ready. Fajitas take some prep time so we will have them on Sunday when I have time to chop and prepare the salsa & guacamole! I also take time and prepare individually sized snacks for the week on Sunday so if I’m in a hurry I already have something to just grab. This is my favorite snack mix, that I just put in baggies and pick one up as I run out the door!
Hope you found this helpful! I love food and I love to plan so meal planning is fun for me! I have had some requests to share my meal plan each week. Would that be helpful? If so, please let me know in the comments! Have a delicious week!