This past year I discovered and implemented some ways to simplify meal planning in our home. Turns out these kids want to keep eating…three times a day even. It can be a real pain sometimes. However, there are ways to bring joy back to meal planning.
4 Ways I Simplify Meal Planning:
Trade with a friend or family member
This past summer, my sister-in-law and I started doing meal swaps. We contact each other at some point in the week, once we figure out what we will be cooking.
Sometimes we offer 2 options and other times we just say this is the one thing I am planning to make…how does that sound to you? We then schedule which day we will be bringing food to the other.
This enables us to save on prep time since it really doesn’t take too much more work to double a recipe. Then we get to have a different night off from cooking with a meal being brought to us.
This has worked wonderfully for us. We get to try new recipes and cooking one less day a week is awesome.
If you are thinking of trying this, make sure the person you partner with has similar tastes, dietary needs, etc.
I have also heard of supper clubs where groups (up to around 4) assign each person a night of the week to cook a much larger batch and then deliver it to the other 3 families that night. I would only suggest trying this if you live very close to those in your club and again have similar tastes and dietary needs.
Double batch your meal and freeze half
This one is pretty straightforward. Similarly to the last one, once you figure out what you are making for a meal that week, make twice as much so that you can freeze half for eating another time.
Certain meals with freeze better than others, so be sure that whatever you are doubling will freeze and reheat well. I am not an expert on all things freezer meals, but do have a lot of resources on my Pinterest board here.
Do a freezer meal prep day
When Zaycon fresh was an option here, my sister and I went in on an order of 40 pounds of chicken. Word to the wise, if you ever purchase bulk meats, make sure you know how it is packaged. I happened to be in a hurry the day I picked up the chicken and threw the whole thing into the freezer.
Turned out it was one big block of chicken so we had to thaw it some in order to break it apart and separate it into smaller sections. There is nothing pretty about shoving a knife into a mostly frozen chicken breast. It was tedious and annoying, but it worked out ok in the end.
My sister and I came up with 4 recipes that would work well with both of our families. We each bought the ingredients for 2 of the preselected meals. Then, we coordinated an afternoon to get together and do the prep work. In just a few hours we had assembled 4 meals for each of our families.
Plan a weekly dinner with a friend or family member
I have a good friend from church whose kids go to the same school as mine. Our husbands (who have a long commute and happen to work minutes from each other) started carpooling last fall.
On Fridays, my friend and I began taking turns on who would pick up the kids from school. This led into us also taking turns for who would be responsible for dinner that night.
It started a wonderful tradition for us both. Every Friday we have dinner together with our kids (our husbands don’t get home until a bit later due to the long commute).
Some weeks if it is my turn to bring dinner on Friday, I go extra crazy and triple batch a meal giving one portion to my sister-in-law (see #1), bring some to share for dinner with my friend (#4), and have leftovers for our family.
The added benefit of these ways of simplifying meal planning is they are great for community and friendship building. Tasks that aren’t fun to do alone are much more enjoyable when in good company.
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