Come and Get it!

‘What’s for dinner’—the most dreaded words in the English vocabulary, right after: ‘Scoot a little further down please,’ and ‘We need to talk.’

It’s not that I mind making dinner, I don’t. The real problem is that I don’t like conjuring up a meal on the fly, because it usually means a last-minute, frantic trip to the grocery store, and I hate going to the store after work! 

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So how I do to stay out of the midweek checkout lines? It was a minor life-style change—I decided to plan ahead, one week at a time. I take a few moments each week to concentrate on creating a menu and a corresponding grocery list. I make myself do this by making this a part of my chore list, as you can see.



Early in the week, I find a quiet place it sit down with a cup of tea (or a glass of wine, depending on the day), and make a list of my family’s favorite meals. Try it yourself: you could even ask them to do this with you. Once you make your menu, put it in a place where the whole family can see it. I’m not going to lie, meal planning can be very overwhelming, especially when you first start out and if you have multiple mouths to feed. But the benefits are worth the effort.
 
Besides reducing your stress, menu planning is also a great way to stick to your health and wellness goals. Instead of just heading for the easy way out (pizza, again), dinners can be half-made and completed as needed, or done ahead of time and ready to reheat—all making it easier to stick to your goals. 

For example, since we eat tacos once a week, I purchase a large amount of hamburger and I cook it all at once. Then I divide the cooked hamburger into portions, so one night every week I just thaw the meat, and the tacos are ready in no time! Like this:
 

What small, healthy changes could you incorporate into your menu? Could you do with less bread, pasta, potatoes, or desserts? Planning ahead can help you achieve your health goals and lessen your stress.

Another benefit—careful planning will help you spend less at the grocery store. Although I want to do my part to help the economy, I have many other places that I would rather spend my money. So shopping smart is super important to me. And since I am planning in advance, I can also look at the coupons and ads to see what’s on sale, which helps me to make better, more economical choices. I mean, if T-Bones are on sale, it would be foolish to ignore that…right?

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While I haven’t perfected it just yet, I wanted to show you my Master Grocery list. It’s a great, basic outline that includes all of our weekly needs and then some. As you can see, a sample “weekly menu” is on the bottom. This just really helps to keep me focused and organized when I go shopping.


Yours will probably look different since I’m pretty sure that most people will not want to eat tacos once a week—EVERY WEEK—like my family. However, if you make your family’s favorites, I doubt that they would mind if you repeat. You may even get away with the same menu plan several weeks in a row. So choose your meals wisely.
 
Planning your menu ahead of time can take the guesswork and stress out of dinner time, and help you avoid the midweek checkout lines. Finally, that dreaded question, “What’s for dinner,” will be easily answered because your perfectly planned menu will happily do the talking for you.

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