How to Meal Plan Like a Pro!

How to Meal Plan Like a Pro!

Emily Rampton is the creator of the colorful meal planning and recipe inspiration blog, Rainbow Delicious. Every Monday she shares free weekly and seasonal menus inspired by the rainbow with links to recipes from other food bloggers as well as original recipes and a free printable grocery shopping list (how fantastic is that?! Easiest way to plan meals ever!). It is her mission to make answering the question "what's for dinner?" more manageable, fun and delicious. Emily is a wonderful mother and a really amazing individual. I got to ask Emily a few questions about herself to share with you so you can get to know how truly fantastic she is! What are you most passionate about? I am passionate about living life to the fullest and for me that means eating good food on a daily basis! I try to do this by planning ahead and eating the rainbow. What led you to your passion? I grew up in a culture where food is always a topic of conversation and cooking with people I love is one of my favorite pastimes. Watching my grandmother and my dad enjoy cooking and sharing their creations with others inspired me to follow in their footsteps. What is your favorite pastime? My favorite pastime is honestly sitting around the kitchen table with loved ones, enjoying delicious food and talking about things that matter to us. What is your favorite piece of advice for new mothers? My mom gave me this advice before I had my first child and it really stuck with me, and that is to enjoy every stage. It is easy to get caught up in wishing for the past or hoping for the future but there really is no time like the present. And now, without further ado, Emily's best tips! -  Nothing compares with the joy of being a mother; I love my three children more than anything. But… life with kids certainly complicates things,
am I right? Parenting is obviously worth it but I’ve found that being a mom makes it hard to accomplish tasks that seemed so simple pre-children. You know, like getting laundry done, finding time to exercise, washing my hair more than once a week (is that just me?) and getting healthy food on the table.  Especially when I first had children, I was overwhelmed by the question of how to feed my family nourishing dinners while maintaining balance and keeping on top of all the other tasks that exhaust my day. The answer is meal planning! I used to hate meal planning but after much trial and error now I have a meal planning system that I can’t survive without. When I don’t plan meals and grocery shop accordingly I end up buying junk food, spending way too much money eating out, feeling unmotivated and stressing out every night around 5 pm when my kids start wondering aloud in hangry bellows, “What’s for dinner?” I think we can all agree that meal planning is a smart choice for our health, our wallets and our palettes but sometimes it is easy to forget that a little planning upfront saves us time and energy in the long run. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your long list of mothering to-do’s, start meal planning and it will save you time and money. Here are 6 basic meal planning tips to get you started and hopefully even make it a little fun.
  1. Keep a Recipe Collection: Gather recipes and menu ideas that your family will actually eat and keep them in one location. This helps you save time when planning your meals. You already have a collection that you can pull from.
  2. Dedicate 30 Minutes Once a Week: Set aside 30 minutes every Saturday or some time before the coming week to actually do your meal plan. I have learned if I do not schedule this in, it does not get done.
  3. Start with Simple Meal Plans: You can keep it simple to start: just list the days and meal names on a piece of paper. That’s it. You can even start by cooking one or two healthy meals each week and going out the rest of the week. Get a feel for what works for you.
  4. Create a Shopping List: On a separate piece of paper, write down all the ingredients that you will need to buy to make the recipes on your meal plan. For bonus points, you can categorize your ingredients into sections like produce, spices, meats, dairy, etc. This will make the actual shopping trip more efficient, especially if you have little sidekicks with you. For inspiration, feel free to use my example shopping list.
  5. Review Each Night: It helps to review each night what I’m planning to eat the next day.
  6. Repeat: When you start the process over again the next week be sure to evaluate what worked and didn’t work. Did you plan to make a recipe that was too time consuming for your schedule? Did you pick recipes that satisfied your family’s flavor palette? Make the next week more realistic and don’t feel bad for any meal planning failures, as Henry Ford said, “failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
You’ve got this! 
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1 comment

[…] An extra bonus is that you’re likely to eat healthier when you map out your week of food. Emily Rampton is a meal planning pro, and she suggests setting aside 30 minutes a week to map out meals, and says it’s best to start […]

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