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What’s for Dinner? Menu Planning Made Simple

Have you ever looked at your watch, opened the fridge and thought, what’s for dinner? You take a quick look around and all you see are rock solid frozen foods, others that take way too long to cook or maybe you just have no idea where to start. Planning meals does not take the time and energy it would as if you were training for the Olympics. To some, menu planning can seem like sport, but overtime it does get easier, become routine and can be fun.
3 Steps to Get Started
If you have tried menu planning before or its your first time, try these steps to get you on your way:
1. Pick a day and time during the week to plan and make your grocery list, stick to a schedule.
2. Don’t just think about it, write it down! Use paper, calendars, dry erase boards or chalk boards. You will know what to defrost or prep in advance to help get your meal ready in time.
3. Consider your families schedule when choosing meals for each day. Save longer recipes for when you have more time. Freeze individual portions to make quick meals on busy days. Remember to label with name and date, this helps in rotating in foods and using while the quality is at its peak.
Tips for Success
It’s important to know what you have on hand to work with, this is the first step in planning. Take inventory of your fridge, freezer and pantry. Make a grocery list as you make menus to decrease extra trips to the grocery store and save money. Consider sales and utilize coupons that make sense for the foods your family cooks with. Keep in mind your food budget when planning and aim to include variety of foods to maximize the vitamins, minerals and health benefits they can provide.
Ready, Set, Plan
Make cooking fun by planning meals in advance. This gives you an opportunity for your family to spend time together giving everyone a task to complete. There is less stress at the end of the day when there is a plan and you’re more likely to eat a more balanced meal, which will lead to a lifetime of health benefits. Menu planning allows me to be more creative with my meals, try new recipes and utilize those extra ingredients I have hanging around in the pantry.

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