Why Meal Plan?
PreSale for Weekly Planners starts April 25th
Simply choose recipes for multiple meals, easily buy the ingredients at the grocery store, effortlessly put the ingredients together to make a mind-blowing meal your family will praise you for (BAHAHAHAHA) yeah, ok (eye roll).
If meal planning was this easy, way more people would be doing it. The steps are always the same and the task seems simple and somewhat exhilarating (I don't get out much) at first. But it is way easier to think about weekly meal planning than actually execuing it.
If you love to cook, you are probably already somewhat of a meal planner. Whether you plan 2-3 days ahead or for a whole week, you have probably found a system that works best for you and your family. I often spend weeks diligently doing my meal plans and then take a week off and just wing it. If the thought of the task destroys your soul and makes you curse the whole process then I hope this simple guide will help.
Start small and farm out the tasks!
I'm sure over the last year most families have gone one of two ways; cooking a lot more at home or downloading and utilizing way more food delivery apps. Or option 3; doing a good mix of both.
The best way to get in the groove of meal planning is to start small and find what works best for you. I, personally am concerned with the freshness of some produce I buy so I often end up going out for groceries 2-3 times a week. I like to plan 3-4 days in advance and find recipes that sometimes call for similar ingredients so that I don't waste what I buy and I don't feel overwhelmed and broke at the end of my shopping adventure/nightmare (especially when the kids are present). If meal planning is new to you, I suggest starting with 2 days and see how much you can handle before taking on a whole week. Once you have acquired a good amount of staples and spices, you'll find you don't need as many grocery runs and you may be able to plan a few more days ahead.
The most important part of meal planning is getting your kids involved! It may seem daunting at first but give your kids some food magazines and flyers and have them cut out food that looks good to them. Keep them in a folder or pin them to Swage.'s new 'What do I want to eat this week' board and keep for a good repertoire of recipes for future meal planning. Having a visual present for your kids to refer to can take the mystery (and subsequent anxiety) out of mealtime. For younger kids, you can ask them to draw or talk about certain ingredients they would like to see in their meals for the week. You can talk about how they can be prepared and even let them help you pick out certain items at the grocery store and help prepare them in the kitchen. I know I sound like a broken record sometimes but the best way to crush picky behaviours in our kids is to get them involved on many different levels.
PreSale for kids board starts April 25th
If you would like more tips and tricks for how to make this work for your family, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will load you up with strategies to help with mealtime struggles.
2. Get yourself a good collection of recipes that you know you are capable of making!
Don't set your sights too high! Stick with things you are good at and grow from there. If you don't have the time to be researching and executing how to flambe or poach....then don't take on those tasks. I have 3 cookbooks I refer to all the time and many of the recipes in them have become staples in our home. I have adapted some of them, added to others, and learned to use what I have on days I don't make it to the store.
I love looking for new recipes and so do my kids. They flip through our cookbooks from time to time and dog ear the pages (sorry for the type A people I just made cringe) of things they want to eat that week.
My three staple cookbooks are:
1. Jamie Oliver, VEG: https://www.amazon.ca/Ultimate-Veg-Delicious-Meals-Everyone/dp/1443459267/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1PN0V4I4I9CF&dchild=1&keywords=jamie+oliver+veg&qid=1617898022&sprefix=jamie+oliver%2Caps%2C211&sr=8-1
You can easily swap out some ingredients and also add meat to any of the dishes. His recipes are incredibly simple and he uses lots of different spices to make incredible flavours!
2. The Michelle Method Digital Cookbook: https://michellemcgrattan.com/cookbook/
She has a few different digital cookbooks, I love her summer edition! It is also super easy to switch out ingredients to make her recipes vegetarian or vegan.
3. Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give A F*ck: https://www.amazon.ca/Thug-Kitchen-Official-Cookbook-Like/dp/1770894659
There are multiple different versions of this cookbook and I love them all! I learned how to make the best tacos from this book! Again, it is super easy to substitute ingredients and add meat whenever you like.
And of course, you can never go wrong with Pinterest!
3. Stick to your list at the grocery store and don't over buy!
If you follow Sarah @littleandspice on Instagram you are aware of her amazing tips for budgeting and getting the most out of the groceries you buy. If you don't follow her, you should! She often talks about how meal planning and budgeting will save you so much time and money with very little effort. She introduced me to an app called FlashFood (@flashfoodinc) that allows you to find ingredients that are close to expiring for a much lower price. If you plan on using them right away, why pay full price? You can also freeze lots of the items and use at a later date. You can grab full boxes of produce for $5! Not only is it cheap, you order it on the app and then someone brings it out to you. If you send her a DM she will email you a link for $5 off your first order. This is such a beautiful way to save money and not watch tons of food go to waste.
Photo from @littleandspice
I mentioned earlier that I like to plan my meals to have some similar ingredients so that I am not buying out the store and using small portions of everything I buy and watching the rest go to waste.
3 day meal plan might look like this:
Monday: Cauliflower Tacos
Ingredients: cauliflower, tomatoes, cilantro, taco seasoning, red cabbage, lettuce, yellow onion, pitas, tortilla wraps, or Nann bread
Tuesday: Buddha Bowls
Ingredients: rice, beans, tomatoes, cilantro, tofu (with taco seasoning), red cabbage, lettuce, carrots, yellow onion, celery, hemp seeds, tahini
Wednesday: Thia Curry
Ingredients: cauliflower, tofu, tomatoes, carrots, yellow onion, celery, limes, curry powder, coconut milk, rice, Nann bread
My grocery list would look like this:
Nann Bread (or pita or tortilla wraps)
If you write down these ingredients for your meal plan, then stay focused and only buy these ingredients. I'm not saying don't buy other items (cereal, yogurt, milk, etc.) I'm saying don't buy other ingredients for the meals you have planned. A good way to find similar or like recipes is to look in the index portion of a recipe book.
I hope my tips were helpful in making this task a little less painful! If you have any money, energy, or time saving tips of your own that you would like to share I always love to hear them! You can email me (email@example.com) or DM me (@swagekids_).
If you are looking for a great weekly meal planner, my new magnetic dry erase boards go on presale on April 25th. They each come with a magnet and a dry erase pen. There is an area on the board to jot down groceries or notes and an option to add on a magnetic notepad that has 50 pages of grocery list. If you're really keen to get your kids involved I have a magnetic dry erase board for them as well. They can draw pictures, write words, or attach magazine cut outs to the board to display some items they want to eat each week. These are also on presale as of April 25th.
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