Meal planning is an incredibly useful practice. It will not only save you time and money, but it will also make the stress of figuring out 'what's for dinner' go away! There are a number of pay for services available, like ThinkYum, that will simply provide you recipes and meal planning tools, like a drag and drop counter, detailed cooking instructions and itemized grocery lists. However, there are PLENTY of options for the individual that doesn't mind taking a little extra time to find their own recipes and not have to spend a penny for an online service :)
Step 1: Find Your Recipe Source
This could be as simple as a cookbook that your grandma wrote, or a professional chef wrote, or you can jump into the world wide web and all the options it has to provide. Our personal favorite is Yummly. These guys are great because of MANY reasons, here some to name a few:
- They are free
- There is a mobile app available
- You can categorize your tastes
- It's easy to save your favorites
- You can even upload your own recipes!
The only con with this sort of online service is that it can be daunting searching through hundreds of recipes that may look exactly alike.
Other options for online recipe sites include:
And the list could go on and on!
Step 2: Pick a Calendar to Keep Track of Planned Meals
It's easy to just talk about what meals "sound good" for the week, but if you don't write them downit is very easy to forget. There are lots of options for how you track your meals:
Build or buy a chalkboard menu. This is a fun option that makes it easy for everyone in your house to know what's for dinner!
Use a calendar on your phone or computer. If it's good enough to keep track of all your meetings it's certainly good enough to manage your dinner menu, plus you can share the "dinner" calendar with your family.
For a small fee, using a service like ThinkYum has built in tools for managing your weekly meals. With ThinkYum you can drag and drop recipes onto your calendar on the days you want to eat those recipes.
And these are just our three favorite options, but feel free to get creative and come up with your own way to manage your weekly menu!
Step 3: Manage Your Groceries
If you're old school, this means that you will be handwriting everything, and that's cool with us! But we really enjoy using technology to help simplify this step, and that is by using an app called AnyList. It is only available on the App Store, but fear not, there are tons of great options in the Google Play store as well, here is a post discussing 5 of the best Android grocery list apps.
Step 4: BONUS STEP!
If you want to truly maximize efficiency (i.e. minimizing food waste and cost) make sure that you choose meals each week that are coordinated together. They use similar ingredients where possible, this will help to make sure you don't have spoilage and it will also shorten your grocery list and minimize how much timed is required at the grocery store!