I know menu planning isn’t for everyone. I also know that many people go about menu planning in different ways. If you’d like a little more insight as to how and why I plan my menus the way I do each week, I’d encourage you to read this post. I also encourage you to check out Plan to Eat as a great source to help you with planning meals for your family.
What I want to share with you today, however, is a very simple method I use as I go about planning the meals our family will eat. When planning our meals in this simple manner, I find that I can really keep our costs low, even while eating a diet of real, whole foods.
Really, planning a meal that is inexpensive, well rounded, nutritious, and delicious isn’t as difficult as it sounds. If this is an area you struggle, how about following these simple steps?
A Simple Way to Plan a Meal:
1. Pick a main dish.
2. Choose one or two side dishes that will compliment the main dish.
3. That’s it. There is no number three.
See? I told you it was simple. :)
I used to go all out for meals, making sure we had bread and dessert all planned out along with a main course and a couple of sides. And sure, for special occasions or when we have company, I typically plan a little extra. But for our day-to-day meal plans? I stick with what is simple. I figure out what our main dish will be. I think about what vegetables and other side dishes will round out the meal. And that’s it.
Here is an example:
Monday, I decided to make Grilled Barbecue Chicken. (Pick a main dish…check) Tossed salad and green beans go great with bbq chicken. (Choose one or two side dishes that will compliment the main dish…check) I was also hungry for sweet corn, had some in the freezer, and decided to make that too. (Flying by the seat of my pants and going with what sounded good at the moment…check)
Now, a few tips as you follow this simple meal planning method:
Tip #1: Try to always choose at least one green veggie to go with your main dish.
Tip #2: Fruit is always a great addition to a meal and a perfect way to add nutrients, especially if your family is picky about veggies.
Tip #3: Avoid serving too many starchy foods with one meal. As in, you probably shouldn’t plan corn, potatoes, noodles, and bread all in one meal. It’s a bit of a carb overload and not nearly healthy as a meal that has green veggies. That is, unless you enjoy experiencing a sugar crash about thirty minutes after you eat. In that case, go for it.
Tip #4: And speaking of bread, you really don’t need bread at every meal. Unless you’re my dad. And then it is a must, because how else are you supposed to sop up the gravy?
And with that, I wanted to remind you that we offer several free downloadable menu planners that are perfect for this fall! And, they come with free coordinating downloadable grocery lists. They are fun. They are free. Print them, put them on your fridge, and use them to your heart’s content. Some have even laminated them so that they can use them over and over!
What is the easiest way you’ve found to plan meals? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants? :)