Easy as 1-2-3 Dinner Planning Tips!

My meal planning journey started a long time ago and has evolved over time, as each season of life presents different changes to my schedule. Some activities have stayed consistent, while others I’ve just started in the last year and they’ve been game-changing.

#1 Meal plan when you’re hungry.
The main thing about meal planning is – the planning. Designate a time to look through recipes. I like to do my planning Saturday mornings before eating breakfast. When I’m hungry, picking out recipes goes a lot quicker! I always plan one week at a time, and if I’m feeling extra inspired, I’ll write down recipes for two weeks.

Make sure you have your calendar by you when you are planning meals so you know if you have any activities at night that would impact the amount of time you’ll have in the kitchen. Any night we need to eat something quick, I plan for a slow cooker meal that is ready to eat as soon as everyone is home from work and school. That way you can eat and get back out the door.

Grocery Bag

#2 Plan to shop the same day each week.

I used to be the one to plan one day at a time and go to the grocery store almost daily. Uff da, that’s expensive! Many years ago I started shopping only one day a week to get all the things I’d need. This cut down my time being inside the grocery store substantially. And cut down my grocery bill. Win-win.

#3 Choose your prep method

Freezer Meals: I’ve gone through various stages of prepping in the past 10 years. Certain times called for me to take a whole day making freezer meals – something easy to just thaw and pop in the oven and serve with a side dish. (The new Skillet Dinners Kit recipes have make ahead and freeze instructions. Check them out.)

Batch cook your meat: Do I need to say more than Makin’ Magic Chicken Seasoning and Mom’s Favorite Taco Seasoning? Check out the duo >  These are both great make ahead options that make for super quick weeknight meals.

Batch cook taco meat and better than rotisserie-style chicken and stick it in your freezer to use in the weeks ahead.

Slow Cooker:
The slow cooker is my best friend on days I don’t have time to cook at night. I throw everything together in the morning and come home to dinner being done!

Prep each morning: Something I started this year is to read the dinner recipe in the morning. If meat needs to be marinated, I prep that and put it in the fridge. Veggies need to be chopped? Get those chopped. I will go through the recipe and if I can prep anything in the morning, I do. It usually takes me up to 10 minutes. And the best part is at the end of the day, I don’t have to rush to start making dinner or have to switch recipes if I didn’t notice if something needed to marinade for two hours.

Don’t forget about your leftovers! I plan one night a week to serve leftovers. Serve with fruit or veggies that need to get eaten up. Whip up a batch of veggie dip, put everything on a tray for a little leftover charcuterie meal. I normally set out any main dishes and let everyone pick what they want on their plate.

Start your meal planning today and skip the drive-thru. You got this!