How to Take the Guesswork Out of Meal Planning

Easy Meal Planning

One of the natural byproducts of having a garden is that you tend to cook at home more often. For one, there’s always food in the fridge that needs to be used up. And secondly, why go to a restaurant and eat out of season food from Sysco when you can have fresh, organic produce at home?

It’s very important to me to have healthy food available at home at all times. I feel best when I’m sticking to eating mostly fruit, vegetables, grains, and some protein. This means that we tend to cook dinner at home Sundays-Thursdays. Although eating healthy food is a priority for me, I actually don’t love the act of cooking that much. But, I do it because I want to eat high quality food.

Over the years we’ve come up with different systems to make cooking dinner easier and quicker. My new favorite system has been in use since the summer. I get bored cooking the same thing over and over, so I like to try new recipes each week. Some of them are winners and some of them are never to be cooked again!  I’ve always struggled to keep track of the successes for future use. Stored with my cookbooks, I have a big binder where I keep printed recipes from the Internet.  But after several years, the binder is getting a bit full and messy.

The other challenge is that we tend to cook very seasonally. I’m only cooking with eggplant in the summer and early fall, which means  I often forget about the recipes I liked last year by the time eggplant season rolls around again.

I’m always in favor of simple solutions, so I thought, what’s the easiest and most likely way I’d keep track of what I cook each week?

I decided that being able to see what I cooked the whole month in one glance seemed like the best solution, so I printed out a few blank monthly calendar sheets and stuck them to my fridge.

Success!

It’s been really easy to remember to jot down what I cooked throughout the week. I write the name of the recipe, the source and whether I liked it or not. That’s it!

A month is a long time, so I’ll often repeat a good recipe once or twice throughout the four weeks. When summer ended, I punched some holes in my July and August sheets and stuck them in the back of the binder. Next year, when I’m trying to figure out what the heck to cook for dinner on a night in July, I’ll definitely pull out this year’s July record and start there.

Do you have your own tips for how to make meal planning easier? Leave your ideas in the comments below this post.

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