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Make Meal Planning Easy

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We’ve all heard how much easier meal planning can make your life. But how do you do it? Check out these tips to help make meal planning easy.

Everyone knows the feeling. You come home after a long day at work. The kids have homework. You have laundry. And everyone is hungry. Then you realize you didn’t plan for dinner. So, you pick up the phone and order a pizza. Everyone loves it, but you feel guilty about feeding them junk food instead of a fresh, home-cooked meal. So how can you avoid this same thing next week? Easy! The answer is meal planning.
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The answer is meal planning. It does not mean that you have to have a full menu every night. Meal planning means that you know what is in your pantry and refrigerator, and that you can turn those ingredients into a quick and healthy meal. Have one or two recipes that you can make up from staples in your cupboard so that you do not find yourself ordering takeout when you are tired You do need to plan ahead when shopping. Instead of making a strict menu that no one ever adheres to, consider what kind of things you want to cook over the next few days. Remember your plans for the week. If you have a busy week ahead, you will not want to spend an hour making lasagna and waiting for it to bake. Plan general ideas and have ingredients on hand for easy preparation. When you are tired after work, you can tell your family, “We have things to make tacos or spaghetti. Choose which one you guys want.” Or whatever your family likes and you find easy to prepare. When making enchiladas for dinner, it does not take much more time to make two pans. Freeze one, so that in two or three weeks, you can just pop it in the oven when you come home. There are many meals that freeze well. You only have to do the clean-up once when you cook twice as much. You can use a crockpot to cook a roast, so that all you have to do is add salad and bread when you are ready to serve. Utilize the tools you have for convenience. Use the fresh, seasonal produce to add healthy foods to your meals. Take advantage of bagged fresh lettuce and cut up butternut squash to help you get dinner on in a hurry. Add color to your plate with beautiful cherry tomatoes and shredded carrot. You do not need a fancy menu and shopping list, but you do need to take time to think about your shopping list. Menu planning begins before you go to the grocery store. Do not forget to plan for breakfast and lunch, or your family will eat everything you planned to cook for diner. You do not have to be Martha Stewart to be prepared for dinner. Have the ingredients to make three or four different dinners that your family enjoys and be prepared any night of the week. Image by pallavi_damera via Flickr

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