Super Simple Meal Planning

Would you love a month of beautifully drafted, delicious, and easy meals for your family? Are you actually scrambling to make one or two a week, always at the last-minute and in desperation?

If you are overwhelmed with meal planning, this post is for you.

Sometimes, to be successful, we need to go back to the basics and start over. Strip away all the extras and simplify.

  • Pick three meals that are easiest for you to make. If 20 minutes or less is best, pick three that are quick prep. If the slow cooker is your best friend, work with it. If you aren’t sure between some favorites, pick the one that has the fewest ingredients or is easiest.
  • Make a list of the ingredients you need on hand. This will be your base grocery list for a while. Check stock before you head to the store and get more of what has been used on the list. Then you will have what you need on hand.
  • Keep this list and the three recipes handy or post them in your kitchen for reference.
  • Cycle your way through the three meals. When it’s time to think dinner, you are making the next one on the list (1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3…).

This process assumes that there will still be some days with drive-thru or pizza menus, but the daily planning is already done on the days you eat at home. Cycling through three meals gives some variety, but keeps it simple enough to manage until you are ready to tackle more.

If you are ready for change in a month or two, but not ready to ramp up, you can start over. Switch up one meal or all three, make a new grocery list, and carry on. If simple works for a longer season at this stage in life, stay with what works.

When you are ready, you can add one more meal. When you don’t hate your kitchen anymore, you can start experimenting or expanding the meal plans.

But for now, cut out as much stress as you can and go back to super simple.

Good Ideas: Paprika App

If you like to pick up recipes from friends or browse Pinterest for delicious new ideas, this is an option for you! The Paprika app is a great way to store various recipes you find online, as well as a helpful tool for using them in your kitchen and routine. If you would like to try it, please note that there is a cost (currently $4.99).

IMG_7095You can store all the recipes you find in one place. All those recipes you find on Pinterest or links emailed from friends — in one place. Each recipe can be categorized and rated as you like. It is not as convenient for the family recipe book or the notecards passed down from your grandmother, but you can also type those into the app database to use.

You can scale recipes. Once you have the recipe in the app, you can choose to make it for the servings listed or cut it in half or increase up to 100-fold. All this is without doing math, just changing the setting.

IMG_7094You can plan your menus. If you do your menu planning in the app, you can pull the recipe into your plan with one click. The plan includes up to three meals and snacks for each day, and you can view your plan by day, week or month.

You can track your grocery list. Once you have your meal plan set, you can add the ingredients you need to a grocery list. The items are pulled off your recipes, and you have the choice of de-selecting items you don’t need to get before adding everything to your grocery list in the app. Just like that.IMG_7093

You can track your pantry. For a little more effort, you can keep track of what you have on hand and won’t need to add to the grocery list. The app will keep those off the grocery list when you carry over the recipe ingredients for your meal plan. You’ll also know what you have to use without a trip to the grocery store.

It’s a beautiful tool, whether you just use the recipe storage or max out all the options. More information on it can be found here and here.

If you already use this app, how has it helped you and what tips do you have to add?