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When you're trying to build a business, it can be challenging to do all of the housework and work on your business! That's why it's so important to create a plan for success in whatever you're doing. It doesn't matter whether you're working on business tasks or home tasks, it's much easier to get things done when you make a plan.
That's why I'm talking about planning today, specifically meal-planning. If this is a struggle for you, as it was for me, check out these tips on how to create a meal plan that works when you work at home!
Before I get started sharing my top tips, I want to let you know what this post is not. I am not a food blogger, so I'm not sharing my favorite recipes. I do have some excellent recipe round-ups on a board on my Pinterest account, so you can find that here or the board is embedded at the bottom of this post.
First of all, I don't really use recipes when I cook. I am more of a look at a recipe and throw things in without measuring. Don't get me wrong, I'm a good cook (at least my husband, sons, and family members think so!), but I can't share recipes when I don't measure the ingredients. Most people, especially new cooks, struggle with my directions because they aren't precise. Of course, there's also the fact that I never make things the exact same way because I don't measure. I like the creativity, but my husband has a hard time following my directions when I try to tell him how to make something. He's not a natural cook, and he's an engineer. #dontknowhowheputsupwithme
The second reason I'm not sharing recipes is that creating a meal plan is so much more than putting a bunch of recipes on a schedule. It's developing a system or strategy that will work for you. Plus, with all the various food allergies, dietary preferences, varying levels of cooking abilities, and time restrictions out there, it is IMPOSSIBLE to provide recipes that meet every person's needs. That's why I'm sharing the tips that you need to develop a meal plan and strategy that will work best specifically for you. Creating a meal plan is so much more than putting a bunch of recipes on a schedule. It's developing a system or strategy that will work for you! Check out these tips to get you started. Click To Tweet
Let's get to it!
The first step to using a meal plan is to think about what will work for you. Again, there are so many options! Some people plan an entire month at a time. Others have a certain number of meals that go through a rotation. I had a friend who had 21 dinners that her family rotated through. She would add new recipes periodically, but they generally had all of those 21 meals in a month.
A lot of people are successful with theme nights. Popular ones include Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, etc. We have Pizza night every Friday, because Mama is tired! Also, we do a breakfast dinner a few times a month, and my husband is in charge (I told you he wasn't much of a cook). We also eat out a few times a month, so I count those as part of the meal plan, too.
When I was looking for input for this post, Karen from Running on Balance shared this,
My favorite strategy is one that I use with my own family. I call it "The Sunday Question." The Sunday Question is: "What do you want for dinner this week?" Each of my three kids plus my husband has to offer a dinner menu. I add in another. That gives us five meals for the week right there!
I love the idea of making it a regular thing to have the hubby and kids involved in planning. Sometimes I ask my husband for ideas and his response is usually "Whatever you want to make will be delicious." It's a sweet compliment, but it doesn't help when I'm stumped. I'm definitely starting with the "Sunday Question" in my home!
When you're shifting to using a meal plan, it can require adjustments to your budget. If you haven't really meal-planned in the past, you might have made multiple small trips to the grocery store throughout the week. You might not have used a list. You might eat out a lot. All those little expenses don't seem like much, but they definitely add up quickly!
The first time you go to the grocery store with a list for a week's (or more) worth of groceries, the bill can seem ridiculous! Spending a$100+ dollars on groceries at once can be hard to swallow. If you're doing significant meal prep or freezer cooking that requires a lot of supplies and meat, you can end up spending a few hundred dollars. Don't let that stop you from creating a meal plan and sticking to it!
Rachel from Budget with Rachel has several posts about freezer cooking. In this post, she suggests two ways to find the money to start freezer cooking:
Rachel has other posts about meal-planning and budgeting, so be sure to check those out, too!
Here are a few more tips for budgeting for a meal plan:
Once you've got the groceries bought, you're ready to get cooking!
This part scares some people who are new to meal planning. They might feel overwhelmed at the thought of coming up with meals all the time. Or having to cook all the time. Or being locked into a specific meal every night.
But that's actually the beauty of meal-planning!
You are building and executing a meal plan that works for you. It can look like whatever you want. There's not a right or a wrong method. You also know what type of meal plan works with your schedule. Especially when you're running a business.
Samantha Eaton from HealthyEaton.com gets it. She recommends breaking up meal planning and prep over a few days. She says,
On Thursday, pick the meals you want to cook for the coming week and write out your grocery list. On Friday, get your groceries. On Saturday and Sunday, you already have your gameplan, you already have your groceries, all you do now is find pockets of time here and there to do prepwork.
Samantha said her clients love this tip, and I can see why! If you've ever tried to plan, shop, and cook all in one day, it's exhausting. I did it this past weekend for my son's birthday, and I'm still recovering!
Another great way to execute a meal plan is to batch cook the main ingredients. For example, when I come home with a big package of chicken breasts from the store, I throw all of the chicken breasts into my Crock-Pot (affiliate link) with a cup of water and cook them on low for six hours. I can then put the number of cooked chicken breasts my family needs for a meal into quart-size freezer bags. Plus, I can leave them as whole breasts, cut them into chicken strips, dice them, or shred the chicken. When I need the chicken, I pull out what I need in the morning, and it's thawed for use by dinnertime.
You can also batch prep fruits and veggies for the week by washing and cutting them into servings. It makes it so easy to add them to quick breakfasts, school lunchboxes, and family dinners. This works for most harder types of fruits and vegetables, but it's not the greatest for fruits like apples and bananas and vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocadoes. These are likely to change colors and become weird textures when they're prepped beforehand. This post from Meal Prep Magic is especially helpful in understanding how long food lasts when you prep them early in the week.
Other tips for executing a meal plan:
There you have it. All of the best tips to get going with a meal plan. You can even get it going for next week! Don't forget to involve your family, and don't go to complicated.
I can't wait to hear about your meal planning success! Let me know how you're doing by leaving a comment below or on my Facebook page. Or, if you have a tip that I missed, please share it. Life is better when we work together.
Until next time,