Unstressful Meal Planning

Let’s talk for a minute about unstressful meal planning.  Meal planning that doesn’t stress you out is a must in the weekly hustle and bustle.

Every month we find ourselves overly ambitious with our meal planning. We start by looking in our pantry,  freezer, and refrigerator.  We then create a shopping list based on what we have on hand and what we need.
We try to be careful not to choose recipes that are too complex or time consuming.  We also try to find balance in our meal planning with these few tips.

Meal Planning Tips

1. We batch cook on the weekends so that we don’t have to cook dinner every night of the week.  Our schedule is just to busy to make a new meal every night of the week.  This way you also don’t feel like we we’re spending hours cooking each week.
2. We make a recipe of either a soup, pasta, or rice that will stretch across a couple meals during the week.  By making a pot of spaghetti sauce or making rice dishes or rice bowls, you can really make your ingredient stretch.  Even if you have more than you’ll eat for dinners, eat it for lunch or freeze it if you haven’t eaten it all by the end of the week.
3.  We make recipes when we can in the crock-pot or instant pot that we can set and forget.  That way even if it is a busy weekend, we are still able to batch cook for the upcoming week.
4. We use our instant pot when we forget to plan ahead.  When you forget to take meat out of the freezer.  You can put frozen solid meat into the instant pot.  In a short amount of time, you will have cooked meat to prepare as your main dish or to incorporate into other recipes.
5. Not to use complex or time-consuming recipes.  If you know a recipe is going to take more time than you have in your schedule, it’s better to choose another meal idea.  That way you aren’t setting your expectations too high and setting yourself up for failure if you can’t get it done.
6. Have a “default” or “go-to” dinner in case you are pressed for time and forget to plan.  For many families, this could be something like soup and sandwiches, breakfast dinner, or something frozen.  That way you won’t be tempted to eat out or make an unhealthy choice.
These are a few things that have really been helping us to not get too stressed and have realistic expectations of what we can accomplish during a weekend.  We typically have many projects or events happening each weekend so it’s important to be planful about our meal preparations.  While we’re not perfect and feel like there’s room for improvement, we also feel that these tips are helping us currently.
Whether you’re meal planning for a month, a week or a day, these tips will help you to be the most successful.  Start your plan by looking at your schedule and getting an idea of what you have planned on your weekend or weekdays.  Then select your recipes for meals based on how much time you will have available to cook and meal prep.  That way you won’t become overwhelmed and throw your meal plan out the window.
Being less stressed and feeling like you’ve had a productive yet relaxing day or weekend are better outcomes.  Finding a good balance between the time you spend cooking, doing housework, working on projects and just spending time with your family is very important to achieve.  That way you will find more satisfaction in how you spend your days.  You may even find time to be able to do things such as taking your kids to the park or library, going on a date, or just doing something fun.
We’d love to hear what you think about our meal planning tips.  We’d also love to hear about your meal planning tips and tricks.  Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for stopping by and visiting Sunup to Sundown!  We’ll be back soon with another recipe or update regarding our garden or our journey to becoming more self-reliant.
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