Before you write a meal plan...or any plan.

It may seem a bit out of order, that last week I would write about how to write a meal plan and this week, I'd write what to do before you write a meal plan...but hear me out!

If you have just started meal planning, it may feel daunting. You may have struggled before and only jumped back in because I suggested it. That's ok! There are always challenges when we are learning new things. Below are some recommendations I have for next week when you sit down to plan your meals..

1. Look in your kitchen!!
Do you have 15 cans of diced tomatoes? Let's plan some recipes that will USE the diced tomatoes! Try to make sure you have at least 2 meals that include half of the ingredients that are already in your house. It will make you use what's there and not build up a giant pile of food that needs to get eaten sitting next to a pile of leftovers that need to get eaten.

2. Make room for leftovers.
If you plan a meal for every night, you will not be able to eat ALL the leftovers! Unless your family eats every bite of every thing that you make,  there is going to be food left. Throwing it away is not economical and you can't always finish an entire lasagna for lunch! With that in mind, leave space in the schedule for a leftover night. Is it the most fun? Probably not. Practical though?

3. Build up to it.
You are not going to be on Master Chef tomorrow. I promise your children will still grow into normal functioning members of society even if you use a microwave! If you'd like to have some veggies and frozen is more practical than fresh, go with it. It's cool.

4. Make habits.
Have you noticed in your own life that you have patterns and habits? Maybe you take 3 sweet-n-low in your coffee? Swiffer the floors on thursday? These are patterns and habits. If they work well in other parts of your life, why would you not incorporate them more often? I try to do some meal prep for the next night, while I'm working on the current meal. Sometimes I even get farther ahead than that.

5. Create patterns.
Some call them theme nights, I call them patterns. My children know to expect chicken mid-week and to expect Italian-type meals on Monday. I tend to grill on the weekends and every 3-4 days, we tackle leftovers. Whatever works, you decide, but look for the things that make the process easier, not harder!

Happy Meal Planning!!
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