Saturday, March 12, 2011

Meal planning tips for busy moms

Photo Credit: AP/Larry Crowe 

Saying that I'm a busy mom of three sounds a bit cliche. Nevertheless, I had to find efficient ways to manage my home without driving myself crazy. With the help of my husband, I developed a strategy for meal planning.

Step 1: Draft a menu for the week. Include the entire family in the menu planning process.

Step 2: Create a shopping list based on the menu.

Step 3: When buying frozen vegetables at bulk stores....separate into dinner size portions and place in freezer bags. If buying fresh, cut up veggies and store in refrigerator (prepping ahead saves time).

Step 4: marinate meats the night before cooking and store according to meat package instructions.

Step 5: Keep menu in a visible location. I keep mine on the refrigerator door. That way the kids know what's for dinner!!!

Try to keep your weekly menu simple. Save the intricate gourmet meals for the weekend when you have more time to prepare. It's ok to have pre-packaged meals at least 1 night a week....make sure you read the sodium content.

Also, because you have all that you need, feel free to switch the menu around. If chicken is on Tuesday, but you'd rather cook the skirt steak that's slated for Thursday....go for it, cook the steak. There are no strict rules. If your kids are like mine, they'll check out what's for dinner before they leave for school. So be sure to inform them of the change! 

Effective planning and time management strategies enables you to get things done with less stress. Adopt the above approach or use it as a guide and see your nights become a little less hectic, at least for dinner time.
Embrace your journey, be balanced and bon appetit!

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