Learning to Cook isn’t like back-in-the-day where great grandma walked to the market to see what’s fresh for dinner THAT DAY! Today, we have so many varieties of foods to choose from, better storage of food (freezers or fridge), greater access to recipes, better chef’s tools, better small appliances, and less time to really make a good dinner all the time. Meal planning helps with that lack of time.
#1. Gather your recipes. To get started look through cookbooks that you like. Look through your stash of favorite recipes that you have pinned somewhere. Pick recipes that sound good and provide the supply-chain ingredients for the next evening, or two days from now. An example would be Roasted Chicken Breasts on Tuesday and Chicken Enchilada Casserole on Thursday.
If you are trying to keep it light try these favorite sites for recipes
- The MyFitnessPal Blog you have to search through the blog
- Cooking Light
- Food Network – Healthy
This may seem overwhelming at first, but if you’re learning to cook, this is an excellent way to start by picking recipes that you can make that will allow you to use what’s in your pantry or fridge, and provide for lunches or meals through the week.
#2. Keep in mind your schedule. Can you make a meatless Monday meal if Booty Bootcamp starts at 6:30pm?
#3. Commit time to plan. The ideal time to do the Meal Plan would be Sunday. But, on Tuesday or Wednesday the grocery store fliers arrive via snail mail detailing the steals and deals they have for their week which is Wednesday through Tuesday. [Honestly, who thought of that?] The fliers may assist you in picking out the meals you’d like to serve based on sale items. If you are budget conscious, my neighbor, Christy, who used to live directly behind me, started a couponing site, the Shoppers Apprentice, with great deals and printable coupons which may be of service to you. The major grocery chains have their apps that have some savings. Example, Target’s Cartwheel.
#4. Take inventory. Once I’ve figured out the menu, I take inventory of the food I have in the house. I usually sit with a notepad for groceries that I break down into Dairy, Meat, Produce, Canned Goods, Freezer, Snacks, and Miscellaneous. As I review the recipes, I start writing down those things I do not have in my fridge, crisper, freezer, or cupboard. A while back I visited Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa site and found a source, Casandra’s Kitchen, who provided pads just for groceries. The way they laid out the list was interesting to me instead of one long list. I’ll be telling you about her containers another time – they’re fabulous.
#5. Pick up the things you’ll need. Sometimes you need only to go once a week, but most often it’s 2 to 3 times a week for me. I have a favorite store for meat, one for produce, one for canned goods and sundries. Plus there’s Costco or Sam’s Club for bulk buying.
So here’s a pretend Weekly Menu with recipe links. Give it a shot and see how it all comes out. You may find it less stressful when you don’t have to figure out what’s for dinner. Good luck!
- Monday: Pasta fageoli and hot rolls
- Tuesday: Taco Tuesday – left over veggies could be used for Fridays Homemade Pizza
- Wednesday: Roasted Chicken Breasts w/ Steamed veggies and roasted potatoes – save chicken for Saturday’s casserole
- Thursday: Zuppa Toscana, Salad, and heated rolls – cook more Italian sausage to be used for Friday’s Pizza
- Friday: Homemade Pizza
- Saturday: Chicken Enchilada casserole, Pinto Bacon Beans
- Sunday: Perfect Pot Roast and roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans