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7 tips to make dinner stress-free

9.23.2015
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7 tips to help reduce dinnertime stress + free weekly meal planning calendar

Dinnertime shouldn't be stressful, but I know each day, around 5:00pm, if I haven't planned ahead, I'm scrambling and stressed out.  Enter meal planning. Our family recently started meal planning and we love it! We love how easy it makes grocery shopping. We also love that our grocery bill has decreased and we love how stress-free meal times have become.  I want to share some tips that I've learned over the past few months, (sort of a step-by-step process) for planning our weekly meals. Check out my tips below.

7 tips to help reduce dinnertime stress + free weekly meal planning calendar

1. I start each meal planning week by planning what we are going to do on Friday.  We always try to do something fun on Friday evening.  Whether we actually get a babysitter (rare) and go on a date, or just stay at home, we try to make it fun.  Sometimes we will find a "copycat" restaurant recipe online and try to make it ourselves.  Other times we'll cook a regular dinner, but we'll go get a fun drink at a special place (my favorite is Cherry Coke with vanilla! YUM!)  Then we'll watch a movie with popcorn (usually after the girls are in bed.)

2. If I have "meal block",  and can't come up with any ideas for the week, I try to plan one pasta recipe and one rice recipe per week. For some reason this helps get my brain flowing and then I can think of the many meals my family will eat. We have several favorite pasta recipes and several favorite rice recipes that we love and many more we want to try.

To help with the meal planning process, we made a big list of our favorite recipes and put them into groups (such as Crockpot meals, meals with hamburger, meals with rice, meals with pasta...etc.) This also makes planning much easier, and helps with the "meal block".

3. We also try to use a variety of ingredients. Kind of like tip #2, we try to think of (at least) one chicken meal and one hamburger meal for the week. We often make more than one chicken meal each week (it's kind of our staple meat), but we try to space them out so we're not having chicken two nights in a row. Recently we have been grilling a few extra pieces of chicken at the beginning of the week and keeping them in the fridge to be used later in the week for lunches or in fried rice or a chicken pasta recipe.

4. We also like to mix-up the type of meals so we have some variety - it doesn't work for us to have tacos on Tuesday and burritos on Wednesday. We have to have an assortment of meal types to keep things interesting.

5. I like to include breakfast, lunch and snacks on our meal plan. This helps me know what food we have in the house so when lunch rolls around I don't immediately get in the car and head to the nearest drive-thru.

6. We plan a meal for each day but we always try to be flexible. If it's Tuesday and the meal plan says we're supposed to have Haystacks, but we don't feel like having Haystacks, we'll switch it for another meal later in the week.

7. Last but not least, we alway like to have at least one back-up/easy meal. Sometimes we need a meal that can be prepared quickly or (sometimes) we don't feel like cooking at all. Jordan has meetings on Tuesday evenings and I have a commitment each Wednesday night so we tend to need easy meals those days. Our fall-backs are pancakes or waffles or we'll go grab a pizza. (We love pizza at our house!)

7 tips to help reduce dinnertime stress + free weekly meal planning calendar

A great deal I've found for these easy meal nights is the Sam's Club Coke and Pizza bundle. It's only $13.98 and comes with a 16" pizza, breadsticks, 6 chocolate chip cookies and a 2 liter of Coke! I love how easy, convenient and affordable it is to swing by Sam's Club to pick up dinner after a busy day or before a busy evening!

7 tips to help reduce dinnertime stress + free weekly meal planning calendar 7 tips to help reduce dinnertime stress + free weekly meal planning calendar 7 tips to help reduce dinnertime stress + free weekly meal planning calendar 7 tips to help reduce dinnertime stress + free weekly meal planning calendar 7 tips to help reduce dinnertime stress + free weekly meal planning calendar

Click here to download your copy of the weekly meal planning calendar. Try it for a couple of weeks and let me know if it helps your family too! And don't forget to include an easy meal like pizza, at least one night a week

Do you plan your weekly meals? Is your strategy different than mine? I'd like to know your family's favorite go-to recipes and hear your meal planning tips!

7 comments:

  1. I LOVE THIS CORINA!! This is a darling printable, and way cuter than my chicken scratch in my planner! Thanks! Have a great one! ~Laura

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you like it!! Miss you guys!

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  2. I love this. Planning dinner is my least favorite thing ever, and I've been trying to get into the meal planning thing but with limited success. I really like your idea for "meal block"—that is genius, plus the planner you made is awesome. I'm going to try it out!

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    1. Let me know how it goes! I give the Big Meal List credit to Jordan. He was the master-mind behind that one. It is way helpful!

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  3. Replies
    1. Thank you!! Let's get together soon!

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  4. Meal planning is an absolute must! It sounds like we're on the same wave length too, because this is exactly how I plan each week! A back up "cheat night "meal as I call them is always a must, and you can't go wrong with that combo-yumm!! ~ client

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