It’s that time of the week yet again when you’ve got a pack of hungry, expectant faces at home exchanging longing glances… You understand that you’ve got minutes to whip up a quick meal before the onset of impatient temper tantrums. And just when you decide on what to cook and get started, your heart sinks with the realization that your pantry is out of stock on the key ingredient(s). You quietly scan the room, hoping there will be a helpful someone who offers to take a run to the nearest store… Sadly, you are greeted with rolling eyeballs, frustrated whispers and audible tummy growls that only add to your guilt… You sigh and throw up your hands in exasperation… A scenario most households are familiar with….
Let’s face it. Meal planning isn’t rocket science. And it isn’t as dreary as it sounds… All it takes is a little bit of smart planning – When to eat what is all that it’s about. Here are some quick tips to guarantee hassle-free meal times.
The planning Find some quiet time, probably once every seven days, when you can take off from the buzz of a hectic routine, to sit down and chalk out a menu plan for the week to come.
Display your menu For everyone in the family to know what is coming up, stick your menu in the kitchen or put up a magnetic calendar on the fridge.
Resources available Check your pantry, fridge, freezer and cupboards in the kitchen to make a mental note of what you have in hand.
The requirements Keep a magnetized note pad on the fridge door, or better yet a laptop in your kitchen, to list out things you need to buy, as and when you remember them. Do a double check to ensure that you don’t miss out on anything. Remember to include seasonal fresh fruits, healthy munchies, milk and other things you always keep stock of.
Shop smartly Plan your trips to the supermarket. By dashing back and forth umpteen times, you will end up spending more money and time. Purchase only what you require.
A customized agenda Stick to simple and quick meals on busy days and schedule the elaborate ones that take time for the weekends.
Balance your meal Every meal should have the right blend of nutrition and taste, in line with the dietary requirements of your family members.
Tracking expenses and time Keep track of the cost factor and preparation time of every meal and balance subsequent meals accordingly.
Things to do today that make tomorrow stress-free When you have time in hand, try to cook twice as much as you usually would. The second portion can be frozen and used on days when you feel tired, are not in the mood to cook or when you are running short of time.
Waste not Move the perishables in the fridge to the front so that you will notice them easily and use them for the next meal. Planning can help in avoiding soggy or rotten veggies. Moreover, make the best use of leftovers and ensure that food is never wasted
Make room for emergencies There are bound to be days when u decide to snooze an extra hour, periods when you are bitten by the lazy bug and times when guests land up at home unexpected. Situations like these shouldn’t make you panic.
Include specific preferences Make a list of the meals that your family members like the most. Rotate the favorites regularly so that all of them are happy to get what they want.
Keep the creative juices flowing Once in a while, make it a point to try out a new recipe. A surprise is always welcome and helps in breaking monotony. If it appeals to the majority at home, you could incorporate it in your next meal plan.
Get them all involved Involve all your family members in the decision making process. All of them would like to have their say on what’s on the menu for the week. This will also help in being aware and more accepting of the choices of other family members.
Variety, the spice of life Every week, chalk out a different menu plan that is flexible and includes variety. Keep all your old plans safe so that after a month you can start reusing them.
Meal planning is a family activity. Get feedback and suggestions from your family members regularly to improve the quality of your meals. Create, recreate, tweak and revise your plan. After preparing a few meals, you’ll see how much energy, time and money you’ve saved.