How to Prepare Meals and Not Go Crazy Doing It

It’s Tuesday night and you’ve already run out of steam. A cry comes from the front door. “Whaaaaaat’s for dinnnnnner????” You have no idea. The pantry scramble comes and something that resembles dinner is on the table. Sure, you’ve filled the bellies and probably even satisfied the taste buds of each one in your home but your brain is probably stresssssed. Let’s talk about a few ways to make this scenario end with a little more sanity in your head and household.

Before we move into the tricks I want to let you know that the best first step is to have an organized pantry, fridge, and freezer. That way you can see what you have and use it.

If you need to declutter and organize your pantry, do that with these questions in mind.

  1. Is it expired? If it is, why do you still have it? (You might not care about expiration dates. In which case I would say, go ahead and use it up ASAP. See challenge below.)
  2. Do we like this food? Will we eat this food?

I love a good challenge! Do you? How many meals can you make without going to the grocery? Exception: fresh produce. If you use AllRecipes.com’s ingredient search it is amazing what you can find. (This post is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by allrecipes.com.)

The rule of thumb for this is:
Plan what you eat, buy what you plan, eat what you buy.

So here we go, let’s see what some of these tricks are for figuring out how to prepare meals and not go crazy doing it.

Make a written plan for each meal and snack.
You may choose a week or more. It’s totally up to you. If you are just starting out with meal planning, try a week.
If you have just cleaned out the pantry, fridge, and freezer for the first time in a while, you’ll want to use up all those expired or almost expired items. (For the record, I’m in the “throw it out” expired food camp.) So look at the items you want to use up and make meals around those items.

Make a written grocery list.
Since you’ve planned meals around the foods you want to use up it’s as if you have already done some of your shopping and you didn’t even have to leave your house or tip the grocery delivery person! Hooray!
Okay, now’s when you see what else you need to buy based on the meals and snacks you have planned. Put those things on your written grocery list. When you get to the store, buy only the things on your list. Be strong, you can do it!

Make your meals. Prep your snacks.
Now that you’ve bought what you’ve planned it’s time to eat what you bought by making your meals and prepping your snacks. You may choose to do all of this on one day and prep for the week. You may choose to make and prep as you eat. Different things work for different households at different seasons.

And just like that you have streamlined your eating for you and your household!

BONUS SIDE-EFFECTS:
You will save money.
Less food will go wasted.
You may actually lose weight. If you plan, buy, and eat food that is good for you in appropriate portions.
Once this is a habit for you, you will end up with more time and less stress.

Yes, these take time to do. Yes, it will take time to develop into a habit. Yes, you can help teach the other people in your family to help. Yes, it will pay off in the end.

Happy Meal Planning!

 

 

Just for fun, here are some other names I thought of for this article.

Food Tricks – makes me think of a circus with fruit and veggies doing acrobatics
Food Organizing – this screams “pantry” and that’s not what this article is about
Meal Planning – again, that totally gives it away, well, mostly
Meal Organizing – that gets the job done but how boring

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