3 Ways to Simplify Meal Planning

Everyone has challenges, whether it's lots of kids to feed, a demanding job, both, or in my case chronic pain and illness.

Half the battle of cooking dinner is not knowing what to make.  It seems easier to just pick up the phone and call for pizza or Chinese to be delivered.

That's not healthy for you and guess what, it's not even quicker than cooking for yourself.

So let's cut out the decision fatigue and make things simple.

Schedule time to sit down and write out a meal plan. Maybe you do this when you are writing out your to-do list, or checking in on your weekly goals. Maybe you just make it apart of your Miracle Morning routine.

If you keep a bullet journal then start making a space for a menu in your weekly spread.  If you don't keep a bujo...this is what #leohusband and I used for a long time.

It's got every day of the week and on the right side a tear-off list for grocery shopping! Genius!

Now that we have the time and the tools, let's get down to brass tacks.

3 Ways to Simplify Meal Planning

1. Identify Favorite Meals

What are your favorites? What are your significant other's favorites? What are your kid's favorites?

Have everyone make a list - I'm super old school and I love to write them down in a notebook - and now I have a collection in my bullet journal.

Make it a family affair.

Vegetable and Sausage Hash is one of our favorites and easy to make. Plus, switch it out with seasonal veggies and it's a whole new dish! ...but it's the same dish ...it's a paradox! HA!
When kids get to participate that gives them autonomy.  If they're littles, maybe limit their choices to 2-3.  Older kids, 5 meals and get this...NOW IS A GREAT TIME TO TEACH THEM TO COOK THEIR TOP 5 FAVORITE MEALS!!!

If you have favorite meals that overlap that's great. What you are wanting initially is to get about 14 - 20 favorite meals and then rotate them.

Mine is a Top 60 meals, however, I have been doing menu planning since I graduated college.  I rotate out meals every two months.  Some meals are seasonal, like my Texas Autumn Chowder, because it's cheaper to buy organic in season.

Now that you have your top meals lets organize them.

2. Schedule the Star Ingredient

What I mean by this is try to schedule ingredients that require a lot of prep work, ingredients that can be used twice, and/or side dishes that can go into main dishes later.

For example:
Last week I cooked Barbacoa on Sunday night.  We initially had it over 'riced' lime cauliflower.  Then I separated the leftover beef from the onions and peppers made lettuce wrapped gyros the next day.  
Later in the week, I pureed the onions and peppers and used it to make the base of my Texas chili.

One giant meal created 2 other meals = that's 3 nights of meals done!

More ideas:

The ground beef and onions from Taco Tuesday goes into Wednesday's Paleo Shepard's Pie and the leftover sweet potato topping from the Shepard's Pie goes into Sweet Potato Waffles on Friday's 'Breakfast for Dinner' night.
Monday's Bhan Mi becomes Tuesday's Soft Boiled Eggs and Carnita's
One rotisserie chicken with roasted vegetables and a salad turns into an avocado chicken salad and the carcass turns into bone broth and chicken tortilla soup.

I hope this gives you some ideas to play around with.

3. Do the Same Meal Every Week

Pick a theme and stick with it.

We've all heard of Meatless Monday's and the infamous Taco Tuesday.

Design your own themed nights and that alone give you less decision making.  Less decision making avoids decision fatigue and actually destresses you.

Friday nights for #leohusband and me are always 'breakfast for dinner' nights.
Sweet Potato Waffles and 'Fried' Chicken Thighs

You could have Turkey Thursday's, one week is turkey chili, then turkey burgers, turkey meatloaf, etc...

Manacoti Monday's?
Salad Sunday's?
Waffle Wednesday's?
Salmon Saturday's?
Go crazy!
Or just get a meal subscription service and skip the majority of the meal planning and even the grocery shopping!