Making Meal Planning Easier: Part 1

There is nothing more frustrating than starting to prepare a meal, going to the pantry and finding out what you need isn’t there.   Unless of course it’s looking at the dinner hour bearing down on you and having no idea what to cook. 

I have some tips posted on my website, which I’ll share here in several parts, along with some additional information that I hope helps make dinnertime less stressful. 

The key is preparation. Mapping out your weekday dinner menus and shopping lists ahead of time is a great beginning. If time is more of an issue than money, buy fresh pre-cut fruits and vegetables whenever possible, or frozen when available.

Read through your menus on Saturday and Sunday and decide what you can prepare ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate. Go for simple, basic foods with great flavors. You could stir-fry chicken, beef or pork every night of the week and create a different taste sensation every time by using different marinades and spices. And most stir-fry meals can be prepared, cooked and served in less than a 1/2 hour. You can also make double batches of things that freeze well, such as pasta sauces and soups. And meats can be marinated ahead of time and frozen. Just thaw, stir-fry, broil or grill, serve with rice and a salad and you’ve got a nutritious meal in 20 minutes.

It may sound daunting, thinking through the week and making a shopping list.  You can begin with a general idea – start with your main courses for the week and build from there. A variety of fresh or frozen vegetables gives you options at the last minute.  If you at least have an idea of what your main course will be, fixing dinner becomes easier.  A well stocked pantry and freezer go a long way to creating a quick dinner .  Next time we’ll explore what is in a well stocked freezer and pantry.  Until then…