Thanks to GIANT Food Stores and Build Your Influence for sponsoring this post and helping me meal plan for 2016!

One of my resolutions this year is meal planning. In fact, it’s probably one of my resolutions every year. I normally start the year off right and then somewhere mid-February I fall off the wagon. I don’t know if it’s getting bored with cooking every night. Or that my family is so picky that I never know what to make them. 

Dinnertime is also our most hectic part of the day. Some nights we are running to CCD right after dinner. Other days find us eating late after coming home from vision therapy. It’s rare that I have night where I am not rushing to put dinner on the table. 

But not this year. This year will be the year that I make it stick. 

meal planning for 2016

Meal Planning in 2016

1. Schedule your meals a week in advance. This is one of the most important planning tips for meals. Knowing what you are going to eat throughout the week means less chance that you will stop off at the closest fast food joint for a convenient, but unhealthy meal. Decide on the last day of the previous week (let’s say Saturday for the sake of argument) what the menu will be for the following week. Create your shopping list from the list of ingredients to avoid buying what you don’t need at the grocery store.

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I use my Erin Condren Planner to help me keep track of menu plan for the week. I write what’s for dinner in the bottom block each day. This helps me look back to see what we ate the previous week. This year, I am going to put a star next to each dinner that the family loved so I know to make it again!

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2. Look for bargains. Clip coupons, read advertising circulars and the like to decide where the best grocery to shop is for your menu items. If one ingredient is a common denominator in many meals, consider buying in bulk to save money. Common staples like milk, eggs, bread and sugar can be bought in bulk as well. Some stores will have double or triple coupon days when you can save even more.

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Our GIANT Food Store puts out a magazine, Savory, that helps with this! Savory magazine features recipes, cooking tips and coupons. The magazine is seasonal so the recipes and tips reflect what you may be looking for. I can’t wait to pick up January’s copy featuring kickstart recipes! Savory magazine is FREE with your GIANT bonus card or $4.99 without.

3. Have a leftover night. After preparing meals for five or six days, there is bound to be some food left over. Designate one night to be leftover night and let everyone mix and match for dinner. Leftover nights will come in handy when we are rushing home from vision therapy. 

4. Cook your meals in advance. After deciding on a menu plan for the week, go ahead and fix as many meals as you can. This is another thing I want to do more of in 2016. Choose a day when the entire family can help like Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. Each person can take one meal and fix it for the following week. Once everything has cooled, store it in sealed containers or casserole dishes to be frozen until the night it is needed.

5. Do prep work in advance. All of the meals can’t be cooked at once. Some foods just taste better freshly prepared. For them, so as much prep work in advance as you can. Enlist your kids to help chop (give them the kitchen shears instead) vegetables, dice cooked meat and mix together dry ingredients. The night of the meal, all that is needed is to add the wet ingredients and bake.

Meal time doesn’t have to be all on mom. The entire family can help with dinner so it is a relaxing meal for everyone.

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