If you’re new to meal planning and cooking, you might find some comfort in knowing that sometimes getting dinner on the table quickly, can worry even the best of cooks. So don’t feel like you have to go run in the closet and hide. Meal Planning is so important to eating well and spending less. When you have nutritious food in your home, you feel good about what you and your family are eating.
What do you do when dinner has to be on the table quickly, and you’ve been caught unprepared?
Other than skipping dinner or snacking on whatever’s lurking in the fridge-neither of which are healthy options and if you have children to feed-there are a few viable alternatives. If you have time to shop but not to cook, the easiest instant dinners are available at your super market for the buying, but they are expensive. Nearly every major supermarket offers a full case deli and bakery, and you can probably find a salad or two and some crusty bread that will do as dinner.
Your second option is turning to those frozen convenience foods-you know, frozen pizzas, pot pies, lasagnas, burritos and the like. As with the first option, this of course has its pluses and minuses. The plus is that they meals are considered one hit wonders: just heat and eat. The minus is that while you can zap one or two dinners in the microwave-which requires upwards of 30 minutes. If you had 30 minutes to make dinner, you probably wouldn’t even be bothering with frozen foods, would you? And then there’s the cost factor, too. While frozen pizzas are on the inexpensive side, in the long run, it’s cheaper to make your own.
The third option, and the one we’re all here for, is making dinner at home.
This, however, takes planning, both in long term and short term. For starters, you need a decently stocked kitchen. You can’t make something out of nothing. Right? Shop around for brands of canned beans, spaghetti sauce and other quick-dinner bases. See my Quick Staples for suggestions. (If you have a little bit of time on the weekends, make your own and freeze.)
First, you have to develop a new way of thinking about your family meals. If you can’t seem to get yourself to plan a week, two weeks or a month ahead, think about dinner early in the day. Try to decide what to have while you’re getting ready for work in the morning or getting the kids ready for school. If nothing else, you can grate some cheese or put on a pot of rice. That way you’ll at least have part of dinner ready when you get home. Take those baby steps to meal planning. Eventually you’ll grow to find it’s much easier to take those big steps to meal planning.
With the rising costs of heating our homes and driving our cars, we have to look for ways to save a few bucks. The food budget is the easiest place to start. A little menu planning can go a long way toward feeding your family and saving money.
Coming up, I’ll share with you meals that are as close to instant as physically possible that will allow you to Eat Well and Spend Less…..