Getting Your Ship in Shape: Planning Family Menus

How many times have you come home frazzled from a hard day at work and hadn’t even thought about what to have for dinner?  You think to yourself that you could probably make sandwiches for everyone in the family, but then what would the kids have for lunch the next day?

Planning your meals out for yourself and your family is not as difficult as it may seem. In fact, it would actually save you what we seem to lack the most: TIME!

  • Start by tracking the meals that you make the most and write them down along with the ingredients for one week. This list should include breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make the ingredients for these meals your core pantry items-something you always keep stocked, so you can always fall back on these family favorites in a pinch. Think of some other easy meals you might like to add to your menu options.
  • Check your refrigerator and pantry for items you may already have to keep you from making purchases you don’t need.
  • Try doubling a recipe that you could make on a weekend when you are likely to have more time. Then, you can either serve the extras later in the week, or freeze some for the following week.
  • Add the items you need to your shopping list that will last you an entire week. Making one shopping trip will certainly save you time and money (on food and gas). There are several free apps out there to create your shopping lists.  One is that works with both android phones and iPhones. It even helps you keep track of what is in your pantry. Give it a try!
  • Create the menu calendar and post it so you have it ready for prepping your next meal.

These four simple steps in planning your menu will save you time each day. It will also make you feel more in control of your eating habits and your shopping budget!

What tips do you have for planning your family meals? We would love to hear them!

Nina Jacobs is a professional organizer for residential and small businesses and the Owner of Ship Shape. She serves on the board for the Richmond Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) as the Professional Development Director.