Meal Planning Made Easier

By Sarah E. Visbeek, author of In the Trenches of Mommyhood

Now that school is back in session, I would venture to bet that many working families eat more takeout or fast food than they want to. I know this because that was my family. That is, until my husband and I sat down and came up with a plan that not only cuts down on the amount of money we spend ordering out, but also has helped us to make dinnertime a family event:

1. Create a weekly meal plan.

Trust me, our meals are nothing fancy, usually consisting of basic variations of pasta, homemade pizza, tacos, chicken, fish, pork, steak, and my boys’ favorite, Topsy Turvy Night (breakfast for dinner!). The boys also like the alliteration of Macaroni Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc…and yes, it can get a bit predictable, but try to experiment with new recipes (see #2).

2. Grocery shop accordingly.

There is nothing worse than getting ready to prepare something and realizing you don’t have the necessary ingredients! My go-to site for recipes is I love that you can search the site by their most popular recipes, ingredients and cooking methods, or even by cut of meat (because when I was young, baked pork chops were a weekly staple and now I’m scarred for life and cannot cook, much less eat, a baked pork chop)!

3. Post the meal plan so your family can see it.

This cuts down on the endless, “What are we having for dinnerrrrrrrrrrrr?” questions and also prepares your children for what they can expect to see that night on their plates.

4. Decide who’s preparing each meal.

When both parents work outside the home, cooking becomes an equal-opportunity task. My husband and I don’t really make any formal arrangement though: our deal is whoever walks in the door first is the one who starts getting dinner ready. Thankfully, this varies enough so that neither of us feels like we’re carrying the entire load.

5. Sit down together to eat.

Dinnertime is my absolute favorite part of the day. After a full day away from my children, I am eager to hear from them and just soak up their silly boyishness! Gathering for a meal together allows us all to focus fully on one another without the distractions of a blaring television or general household chaos; farting and burping at the table notwithstanding.

6. Allow yourself a night off from the kitchen.

Because who doesn’t enjoy pizza delivery every once in a while???


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