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Some people seem like born organizers, especially when it comes to meal planning. In reality, it's a skill you can cultivate. Let us show you how to do just that, in five doable steps.
1. Commit to the Effort
Any goal — exercising more, learning a new language or planning meals — starts with making a commitment. When you decide to get organized about planning meals, write down ways this new skill can help you. Start by asking your family or friends what they like to eat. Choosing people you actually cook for enables you to factor in their preferences.
2. Choose a Method that Fits Your Lifestyle
If you work full-time, you might not have time to cook fresh meals every day. Here's an example that nets you several meals with a few main ingredients. Buy a rotisserie chicken for one dinner, use some of the leftovers on a fresh salad the next night, then change it up by throwing the remaining meat into yummy chicken tacos. That's three meals down. Does roasted pork loin with veggies sound great for Sunday dinner? You can use the leftovers to make pulled pork sandwiches on Monday.
3. Map Out Your Meals with Recipes & Shopping Lists
You can also map out two weeks of menus at a time. This saves trips to the grocery store and makes it easy to plan meals around ingredients that fit more than one recipe. Remember to give yourself a break. This could mean occasionally eating out or including easy-prep meals to take the pressure off. Once you creating a grocery list that strategically maximizing all the ingredients you have to buy, work on another two-week meal plan. Eventually, you'll have several go-to roadmaps, complete with recipes and grocery lists, to feed your family two weeks at a time.
4. Cook Perishables First
If your meal plan includes perishable items, make those early in the week. Save simple omelets or pasta plates for further out to minimize trips to the grocery store. Balancing fresh and frozen goods can save money and allow you to buy some items in bulk. Many people over buy fresh produce and end up throwing it out when it goes bad.
5. Critique Your Success
After you eat a meal, take time to ask everyone for an honest evaluation. Make it fun with a star system. Gold stars are definitely do-overs. Bronze stars and below may need to be replaced on the roster.