I was really sick the first five months of this pregnancy.  I had very little appetite and fought constant wife and mama guilt that I was doing the bare minimum to prepare healthy meals for my family.  There were enough take-out boxes coming into this house to give me a serious case of depression.  Now that I am feeling better I have taken to meal-planning and healthy food preparation with a new passion.  I do love to cook and I am passionate about healthy, clean, local eating.  Also, the days as a stay at home mom to a toddler can be long and because Wynn loves to be in the kitchen with me, I really look forward to working on dinner together after his afternoon nap.  
But even with the best of intentions, meal planning can be a chore and it’s so easy to spend $100 at the grocery store on Monday and then stand in your kitchen at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday and think “What did I buy?  There is nothing to fix for dinner!”  
I have been using Pinterest to make meal planning fun and simple.  Here is my trick.  Try it out for a week or two, I am willing to bet you find it as helpful as I have:
Step 1:  Create three food boards in your Pinterest account.  My boards are labeled:
  •  “Food, etc” : this is where I pin all recipes I stumble on that look good, I may or may not ever get around to making them, this is my catch-all folder.  You can get advanced and have many folders organized by recipe type, but I wanted to keep it simple with one big folder and I don’t mind scanning through it. 
  • “Food This Week:  This is where I pin the recipes I am going to make for the up-coming week
  • “Favorite Recipes”:  This is where I pin recipes that I have made and that we loved and I want to repeat.  

Step 2:  Make your weekly meal plan and grocery list and get shopping.
  • Pick one day of the week to do your meal planning.  For me, this is usually Monday.  I sit down at the computer and go through my large catch-all “Food Etc.” folder and pick out four or five dinners that I want to make for the week.  I pin those recipes to my “Food this Week” folder.  With each recipe I pin, I look through the ingredient list and write down the things I need to buy at the grocery store.  I concentrate on dinners.  For lunch, we eat a lot of dinner left-overs or basics like sandwiches.  If you want to be advanced, you could pin for all three meals, seven days a week.  It’s at this point that I also go to the grocery store.

Step 3:  Each afternoon, decide what you are going make for dinner!
  • Every day at about 2:30/3:00, I’ll pull up my “Food this Week” folder and decide what looks good for dinner that night.  I should have all the ingredients on hand for all of the meals I have pinned.  I can set my laptop on my kitchen island and have the recipe and instructions right in front of me.  Plus you have access to music online, which makes cooking much more enjoyable.  Feel free to have a dance party with your toddler while you fix dinner.  I usually do. 

Step 4:   Re-pin or Delete!
  • If a recipe is a huge success, I will pin it to my “Favorite Recipes” board.  Isn’t it easy to find a recipe that is healthy and your husband actually loves, only to forget about it or misplace it?  I love having my favorites stored this way.  If a recipe was just ok and not one I plan to repeat, I’ll delete it.  Easy enough!

 These crab cakes with Red Pepper Remoulade were a definite keeper!

Happy meal-planning and Bon Appetite!

3 Responses to 4 Simple Steps for Easy Meal Planning

  1. This is a great tip! I think I’ll start doing it, as I’ve already got the overflowing Food catch-all board. What’s your name on Pinterest, I’d love to see some of the recipes you’ve pinned! Mine’s theefirewife

  2. Rach says:

    Oh those crab cakes are calling my name!

  3. Erin says:

    Firewife, just click on my board names in the post above (the red text), and it’ll open up each of the Pinterest boards for you!

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