3 Ways To Simplify Meal PlanningSep 30, 2021
What to start with first in your meal plan
One of the first things I teach my members when they join Batch Cooking Club is to set up their meal planning routine: plan, grocery shop and meal prep. Schedule these 3 dates in your calendar each week and watch your evenings and life transform!
When it comes to creating your meal plan, don't start with the recipes. Simplify your meal planning by first determining how much time you have for dinner prep each night, and allow that to dictate the recipes you plug into your meal plan. This is how you create a meal plan that works for you instead of one that creates more work for you. If the recipe doesn't work for your schedule and what's going on in your life, then you'll be struggling and rushing to get dinner made instead of enjoying your time in the kitchen.
Block off your dinner prep time in your meal plan each night. Then, based on the time you have to dinner prep, choose recipes that work for the time you have. The prep time will also guide you with what you need to prep ahead of time so it can help you get a homemade meal on the table when you're short on time or energy in the week.
What you should and shouldn't batch cook for the week
Setting up a weekly schedule for batch cooking is critical to simplifying your dinner routine. Batch cooking means different things to different people. I'm NOT about spending five hours on a Sunday nor a whole weekend to prep all my meals for the week or month.
I believe feeding your family should be joyful, not stressful. I actually enjoy cooking and look forward to it at the end of the day as a way to relax and unwind...but it's only relaxing if I've planned ahead and know I'm not going to need more than 30ish minutes to get dinner on the table.
My strategy for batch cooking and what my membership is based upon is to pick 4 to 6 things to meal prep in 2 hours or less, and then use those meal components to speed up dinner prep during the week. That could include two salad dressings for lunch salads, a batch of overnight oats for breakfast all week, or a marinated protein and sauce for dinner. Select a few strategic things for those days when you need the help the most so you're not struggling to get dinner (or breakfast or lunch) made.
How to please everyone in the family with one meal.
Last, but not least, choose meals that can accommodate your whole family. For example, as a vegan with a non vegan family, I don't want to make more than one meal to feed everybody.
I take that into consideration and start with a vegan base for the meal, but I also have other options, "layers" or components for the non vegans. An example of this type of meal idea is a food bar. Think taco Tuesday: Make two different proteins and set out a variety of toppings to please everyone in the family. Include plant-based sides such as rice and beans. One meal and everyone eats happily! For more food bar ideas, checkout our free download here.
Hear more about these meal planning tips plus learn about my favorite resource to track my family's favorite meals to take the thinking out of "What's for Dinner?" in the full podcast here.