The importance of meal planning cannot be overstated. It will not only ensure that your family eats nutritious food, but it will also save you time and money. During the busy summer months, when you may have a lot of family summer events going on, many people stop meal planning. Or if your summer is moving at a slower pace than the rest of the year, and you simply don’t want to think about food. Here are some suggestions for sticking to your summer meal plan.
Make a grocery list and a menu
You’ve heard me say it a million times, and it’s because it’s true.; Its so much easier to plan your meals ahead of time. Planning a few easy dinners takes only a few minutes. This will not only ensure that you have meals on the table every evening, but it will also prevent you from purchasing items that you don’t need. You’re more likely to deviate from your meal plan, not to mention your grocery budget. It also ensures that you don’t waste fresh foods because they spoil before you use them. Before you go to the store, check your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to see what you need to buy and what you already have. This is important for food planning throughout the year, not just during the summer.
Keep your meals simple and straightforward
Stick to simple, quick-to-prepare meals. When it’s hot outside, the last thing you want to do is cook on a hot stove. It might be a good idea to stick to “cold” meals like salads, noodles, or sandwiches. It’s a terrific time to fire up the grill in the summer. On a grill, you can cook almost everything that can be cooked in an oven.
You can also prepare your snacks and desserts. For snacks you can cut up and wash fruits and veggies to have healthy options on hand. For desserts you could make cookies or muffins and even a summery simple strawberry pie.
Prepare all of your components for cooking
Take the time to prepare your fresh items after you’ve planned your dinner, gone shopping, returned home, and put your purchases away. So you don’t have to do it later, chop or slice onions, peppers, and other vegetables. When it’s time to prepare your supper, it’s a wonderful time saving! This is a habit I’m working on.
Examine your family’s calendar
Is the upcoming week free in the evenings, or do you have plans that will make it difficult to prepare dinner? On the busier days of the week, you might want to plan a couple of slow cooker dinners. If you don’t have the time, don’t plan meals that will require extra time to cook. That’s when a salad you made earlier in the day becomes a delicious evening supper.
Make the most of your leftovers
Make it a point to use up your leftovers at least once a week. Set out all of the leftovers from multiple meals and let your family choose what they want. My husband and I call this buffet night.
To prepare a simple soup, puree leftover cooked veggies with chicken or vegetable broth. Another option is to create pho with leftover chicken, pork, beef, or tofu, noodles, scallions, mint, and a dash of spicy sauce in a pot of broth.
Or make a stir-fry with leftover grains and vegetables. Grate the ginger and mince the garlic. Fried rice is a tasty dish for breakfast or dinner!
Try a burrito wrap. As a burrito, almost anything tastes good. Wrap leftover bean salad, grilled fish or meat, or even a curry dinner from the day before.
Cooking more than one at a time is a good idea
This specific strategy has proven to be really useful on busy nights. When making a casserole, for example, you can easily double the ingredients and make two. Then you can utilize one right away and freeze the other. You can do this with pancakes or waffles as well. If you make a double (or triple) batch of pancakes or waffles and freeze the extras for a busy morning or evening, you can save time. Put wax or parchment paper between them and you can take out what you need, when you need it.
Whether your summer is as hectic as the rest of the year or laid-back and relaxed, It’s important to have a strategy in place. Plan your meals ahead of time, keep it simple, and have fun this summer. Summer is a time to enjoy life, eat good food and make amazing memories with those closest too you. Meal planning can help take some stress away so you can enjoy it all a lot more.