Let’s be honest…
For most of us, cooking is a chore. Yet, everyday we need to feed ourselves and our families 2-3 meals a day.
That’s 21 meals a week...1,134 meals a year! That’s a lot of time spent in the kitchen and if you don’t enjoy cooking, have picky eaters in your home, or are constantly racing from one activity to the next, it’s easy to get bogged down while serving as your household’s iron chef.
We want to let you in on a little secret. It doesn’t have to be this way!
As we kick off a new year, we want to share some helpful meal planning tips and tricks that will help you spend less time in the kitchen. Here’s what we recommend…
Set Your Staples
Whether it be a frozen pizza or a box of pasta, we all have staple meals we keep stocked in our pantries. Our first tip is to make sure you always have a few of your staple meals on hand for when life gets busy.
What qualifies a meal as a “staple” meal? A staple meal is a menu option that…
- Is enjoyed by your entire household.
- Is easy to throw together.
- Can be stored in your pantry/fridge/freezer.
The trick here is adding 3-4 staple meals that you know your family will love to your menu each week. This takes the guesswork out of cooking and helps you avoid any “I hate this meal” drama at the dinner table.
Portion for Leftovers
Leftover night can be a lifesaver, especially at the end of the week when you’re tired of cooking.
This year we encourage you to strategically plan for leftovers. Of course, before you cook extra food, make sure you’re preparing a meal that you and your family will enjoy a second time around—not all leftovers taste great the second time around.
We personally love leftover soups, chili, stir-fries, meats (ham slices, chicken breast, etc.) and casseroles as they tend to store well in the fridge.
The best part…
If you have leftovers from various meals your family can choose to enjoy their favorite dish a second time making dinner more fun!
Introduce One New Meal Per Week to Your Menu
Do you get tired of eating the same things over and over again? We do too!
That’s why we recommend trying out one new recipe a week!
When you slowly incorporate new food options, testing out new recipes doesn’t seem like such a chore. And, if your dish doesn’t turn out well or your family doesn’t care for it, you’re only down one meal for the week.
To find inspiration for new meal ideas, we encourage you to search through our blog posts!
Become a Food Prepper
Prepping food before you’re ready to cook might seem like a lot of work, but it’s a method that will actually help save you time in the future.
Think about it…
Would you rather be chopping up a pound of onions on a lazy Saturday or after a long day of working?
Food prepping doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to cook all your meals in one day. The goal is to simply get a head start on your meal prep while you have some extra time on your hands.
For example, if you’re making pasta and salad for dinner on Tuesday, you can throw together your salad on Sunday and store it in the fridge. Or, if you’re making fajitas, you can pre-chop all your peppers and onions so when it comes time to cook you can quickly throw everything together!
It’s that simple!
Break the Habit of Becoming a Short-Order Cook
You’ve spent a lot of time and energy throwing together a beautiful, well-balanced meal for your family and as you sit down to eat your kids give you the “I’m not eating that!” look.
Now what? You find yourself back in the kitchen trying to whip up something for your family to eat while your original meal sits on the table getting cold.
We’re going to let you in on a little secret...you’re not a short-order cook and you don’t have to throw together more than one meal to ensure your family eats.
We’re not saying you should let your kids starve. But, it’s time to break the habit of having to do extra work before your family members are unwilling to give your dishes a try.
The first step is being adamant that your family at least gives your meal a try. I know...this is often easier said than done, but it’s not impossible.
If your kids give the meal a try and decide they still don’t like it, then offer a secondary dinner option—preferably one that they can make on their own depending on their age.
Quit making two dinners a night. Offer your kid a simple option like a peanut butter sandwich.
We promise your family won’t starve, and in the process you don’t have to stress out about catering to everyone’s personal preferences. Better yet, your family might learn that they actually like new foods if they get tired of the same old sandwich and decide to give your meals a try.
That’s a win-win for everyone!
Cooking is a necessary part of life...but it doesn’t have to drain you! We hope you’ll give these tips a try and that they make life a little easier for you as you begin the new year!
-Pure Modern Living