Once you have determined how often you would like to meal plan & go shopping, you come to the inevitable: filling in the meals. We’ll talk about different tips in the next couple of posts to make this easier and most effective, but what you really need first are some recipes.
I know this is where most people feel immediately overwhelmed, unsure of how to gather recipes when everything on Pinterest uses fancy techniques and no-one-has-that-on-hand ingredients. I say, stick only to what is easy– it increases the likelihood you’ll actually cook it! I also encourage you to not worry too much about gathering the healthiest, most perfect meals initially. Just get a starting point of meals you like, and you can refine as you go. To get started:
First, brainstorm: jot down meals that come to mind, whether they are quick “recipes” you used to survive in college or just a combination of chicken, potatoes and veggies.
Next, spend some time gathering new recipes that you feel good about. Remember, if it doesn’t seem easy enough or has ingredients you don’t like- stay realistic and give it a pass. There’s plenty of time later to branch out if you want!
Compile these recipes into a “bank”. Some people may keep it on their Pinterest board or a physical recipe binder. However, I absolutely love CookBook. It stores recipes imported straight from the web or entered manually. You can search by title or ingredient, and you can use categories/tags to group meals together (i.e., crockpot, side dish, etc.) Best of all, it’s free AND you can log into your account on multiple devices! Which means if I’m running late, Evan can look up the recipe for dinner and start cooking 🙂
In addition to your bank, I also keep a running list of meats and veggies we love, so that I can easily choose a “meat & 3” (more often, meat & 2) type of meal. This is a great way to take advantage of sales on meats and fill in your list without having to have a full-blown recipe!
Don’t worry about having 100 recipes all at once. If you just start with 7, that will get you through the first week! If you need to, go ahead and schedule a cereal night, breakfast for dinner, or frozen pizzas. It’s all about getting into a rhythm of planning ahead, and over time, you’ll build a larger base and variety of recipes.
To help you get started, check out my favorite recipe round-up here!
What are your favorite easy recipes??
Want the rest of the series, the printables, and a fast-track system to get you meal planning?