Planning and Preparing Meals
Meal planning is one of the most time consuming, worrisome task of caring for yourself or your family. Even if you love to cook, or maybe don’t “hate” cooking, the time it takes to plan, prepare, serve and clean up can be daunting. Especially if you have a busy schedule or would rather be doing other things. There are thousands of articles, planners and guides to help with meal planning. I’ve learned from raising 4 children, preparing meals for my family as well as large events and gatherings, the process is fairly simple and can be streamlined with lists and outlines. My goal is to provide time tested tips and tricks to preparing meals without annoying ads and links
Make a list of your (family’s) favorite dishes – if you eat out a lot, take note of the dishes and restaurants you order from often. Think about main dishes, side dishes, desserts, and “extras”. Don’t limit yourself on how many dishes you write down. Some dishes may be “frequent flyers” and some may be occasional options. If there is something that you or someone in your meal circle likes, write it down. This list can be added to as things come to mind – keep it ongoing in a visible or easily accessible place.
After you have a good list of foods you like, or want to try. Sort them into categories of how often you would want to eat them. Pizza maybe a standing meal every week, even 2 times a week. Salmon may be once a month – or vice versa. As you determine how often you want to eat a dish, be sure to consider the cost, labor and practicality of it. Lobster twice a week may be great, but is it practical?
What do you want from your meals?
Every family is different and there is no one size fits all. Some families eat home cooked meals every night together. There are folks that are catch as catch can, grab and go what’s available at home. Eating out can range from hitting a drive thru, calling an order to pick up and take home, enjoying a casual dine in meal to a full service dine in experience.
Maybe you love to cook but don’t have the time to prepare meals from scratch. Or you despise cooking and would rather have everything ready to eat minimal clean up. Dining out can be convenient, but it can also be costly, even in terms of time. Price per serving can be up to 10 times more than the cost of making a dish yourself. You may think you are saving time by not preparing and cooking and cleaning up after a meal. But you are driving , waiting in line, waiting at the table, driving home. Calling in an order, waiting on the order, driving to pick it up, driving home. Or having food delivered – call in, wait….wait….wait. Take out food and delivered food can be convenient, but the quality of the food suffers when it’s not served hot and fresh. If you honestly calculate the time it takes to dine out, order in, or have food delivered, you will most likely realize it takes longer than it takes to serve a meal at home for a fraction of the cost.
Decide what works best for you and your family – eating at home most often, eating out most often, a balance of both. What are your main concerns/issues with feeding your family? Cost? Time? Health? Taste?
Talk about these things with the people you have meals with. Get a good consensus of what everyone wants and enjoys for meal time. Consider all of the elements of eating – Time, Cost, Health, Taste – AND Enjoyment. Consider what you are willing to invest or forego for each element. Make the parameters concrete, yet flexible. “I would like to spend from X-Y on food each week” “My family should eat X-Y number of meals together” We have X-Y time to spend for meals” – take into account planning, prep, serving, cleaning at home and time it takes to dine out.
As you clearly define how you want your meals to be, make simple lists of what you would like to implement to make changes – if any.
Use our spreads and salads to make delicious complete meals and side dishes
Prepared Meals and Grocery Items
Once you get a good idea of what and how you want to enjoy your meals, decide which dishes you want to make yourself, which ones you like to buy prepared to heat up at home, and which ones you want to purchase from a restaurant to bring home or dine in.
Some people like to create a week’s menu. Others like to stock up to have things on hand to decide on short notice. Do what feels right to you, what works for your family. The key is to not have to face meal time and THEN have to make a decision with no prior planning. If you decide to stock your freezer with dishes made from our kitchen, I can offer advice on how to plan ahead, what side dishes go well with our main dishes, and guide you to making meal time fast, easy and affordable.
Save money by planning ahead. Stock up your freezer and don’t get caught wondering what’s for supper. Take advantage of $15 off your order or $100 or more.