Meal Planning 101

How many days a week do you stagger home from work, exhausted, only to be confronted with that familiar question, "What do I make for dinner?" If you have a family to cook for, you're under even more pressure: "What do I have on hand that I can use to make something the kids will eat?"

I've heard about planning meals ahead of time, but figured it was just for super-organized types like my cousin who has her holiday shopping done by the first of July every year. But one too many evenings in a row of Cap'n Crunch for dinner (I'm single, so at least I'm not inflicting my lack of planning on another generation) was enough to spur me to try to get my stuff together.

A little online research identified plenty of good reasons to get into meal planning mode:
  • Portion control. You can prep foods by single servings, or divide larger batches into several single-meal sized containers.

  • Efficiency. Meal planning can save time in the long run. The "heavy lifting" of prep work for multiple meals is done in one chunk of time.

  • Healthier eating. Meals on the fly often mean fast food or highly processed foods. Planning and prepping in advance allows you to select more wholesome options.

  • Financial savings. Buying ingredients in bulk can save some serious coin, and eating out less often is also good for the budget.

  • Variety. We all have "go to" meals that we resort to when we don't know what else to make. If you frequently hear, "Again?" when you serve that old standby, you could benefit from mixing things up by planning in advance.

  • Stress reduction. Imagine the feeling of walking in the door and knowing exactly what's for dinner!
So I'm willing to concede that meal planning could make my life a whole lot easier. But starting from scratch seems like a whole lot of work: finding recipes, deciding what meals to have when, compiling a list of all the ingredients needed to make several meals, yada yada yada. I knew there was a reason I wasn't doing this.

If only there was a way to take all that nitty-gritty detail work out of this process. Something like … Tastefully Simple's 10- and 30-Meal Kits!

So Much Simple!
Meal Planning 101 blog post | Tastefully Simple

The kits come with products and recipes to make main dishes and sides for 10 or 30 meals, plus shopping lists, pantry items, nutritional info and even suggested wine pairings for each meal. The variety and ease of the recipes makes meal planning surprisingly simple.

Fresh, flavorful dishes like Bayou Glazed Chicken & Veggie Stir-Fry, from the Fix It Fast 10-Meal Kit, is my go-to recipe for throw-it-together dinner in a snap. With the Bayou Bourbon Glazed Chicken prepped and frozen ahead of time, I just need to heat up the wok and toss in the chicken and whatever veggies I have on hand. Dinner's on the table in less than half an hour.

Hearty South of the Border Burrito Bowls from the Cozy Comfort 10-Meal Kit are another favorite. I'll have prepped and frozen the chicken beforehand (I usually set aside a Sunday afternoon for the comin week's meal prepping). I'll pick up the fresh produce on my way home from work the day I want to serve this one. There are so many bright flavors in this one – and I can pull it all together in 15 minutes!

If you've ever thought about trying meal planning, a kit like these is a smart way to start. Set aside a free afternoon or evening, gather your ingredients, and get preppin'!

-kgm
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