Meal Planning Tips

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a Meal Planning Workshop at my house where the participants tasted 5 new recipes and worked through my meal-planning workbook.  Together people shared ideas of what works and what doesn’t in their home. We came together to share stories and be inspired. Here are the top 5 tips that came from that evening:

1.     You don’t have to try a new crazy recipe every night. Sometimes, even planning eggs or a roast chicken and salad is totally ok! In my workbook we make a list of our “go-to” recipes that everyone in the house enjoys so that when you plan your week it’s easier.

2.     Meal planning doesn’t mean you need to cook every night. You can plan for busy nights as well; take out, frozen meals etc. What meal planning means is that we get rid of the 4pm question “Argh what can I make for dinner?”, “I don’t have time to cook”, “I guess its pasta again, I don’t have time to shop”

3.     When you take the time out to plan as a family it divides the responsibility among everyone so one person is not left having to do it all. So many of my clients have mentioned that it is common for couples to be frustrated by the daily question of “what’s for dinner?”, that they feel stressed out by it or the lack of help from their spouse. One of the biggest tips I have found that works is that even if one person does the cooking each family member should say one meal a week they feel like so not only does it allow kids to have the power to control what’s on their plate, parents (adults) also share the task of coming up with new ideas as well. In our house we cook 5 nights a week, 2 of them my husband cooks (he comes up with ideas), 2 nights I cook and the other night depends on the week. But we share the task of answering the question what’s for dinner. We also always ask our daughter what she feels like that week.

4.    Before you plan your week, open your pantry and look if there is anything you want to use up. Part of my work is to go in and clean people’s pantries.  One of the things I have noticed is that people love to buy things they want or think they are going to use, but since they never planned anything with it they forget about it and it tends to expire. It’s important that before you go for your weekly grocery shop to look in your cupboards.  Is there anything already there that you could turn into a meal or want to try to cook with? Let that perhaps inspire you for the next tip.

5.    Make a list of new recipes and try one a week. Keep a folder on your phone, computer or an old school paper file of recipes you want to try. Go through your pantry to see what is lonely in there and for example, google how to use buckwheat. Once a week on the day you feel most relaxed or have the most time, commit to trying one new recipe. Cook it. Then comes the hardest part, let go of the attachment to if it works or not. What came up in this workshop was the frustration of a kid not liking a meal or a dish not coming out 100%. When you try new things sometimes they flop and that’s ok. That’s where I find the staple pantry meal comes in, which we will look at in another post.


I will be hosting another workshop open to the public in March and April. Follow me on social media to learn more and next month I will share with you a winter meal plan and tips for when produce isn’t at its finest in Ontario.

Karen GnatComment