Planning your family's meals is an effective way to eat healthy and save time and money. Simple meal planning lets you avoid those last-minute trips to the store for missing ingredients. It can also help you break the drive-through habit at day's end, and you know how that affects your waistline and your wallet.
If you're new to all this, the easiest way to start is by planning a week's worth of dinners or lunches. Once you develop a routine, it becomes second nature. Here are some suggestions on how to get started.
While some people can successfully plan a full month of meals in advance, a week's worth is sufficient (and less daunting).
Don't worry about deviating from your meal plan. If you come across a good deal at the grocery store, take advantage of it. For example, if rotisserie chicken is on sale and cheaper than a whole fryer, pick up one or more and freeze the extra.
Use sites like AllRecipes.com for inspiration. Many offer robust search features and a wealth of recipes for just about any meal you can think of, along with meal planners that let you archive favorite recipes.
After a few weeks of regular planning, you'll develop a rhythm. And do keep a couple of emergency meals in the freezer-either ones you have prepared in advance or the occasional frozen pizza. Life happens, and not always according to a meal plan.