Meal planning is kind of like the dreaded B word: budgeting! It sounds like a lot of work and not enough fun, but you know it's a good thing to do!
Don't despair. We have five ways to actually make meal planning more fun. And we're kinda helping with the budget stuff, too: If you meal plan, you'll save money by cutting out wasted food and cutting down on takeout orders.
Give these tips a try.
1. Get a pretty notebook.
It's a scientific fact: Everything is more fun with a pretty notebook! You could be writing a list of things you have to clean in the next 60 minutes and it would be less painful if you were doing it on a gold foil notebook rather than a boring yellow legal pad. Just think of how much more fun meal planning would be if you were scribbling on something you liked to look at?
Some suggestions: 10 Notebooks That Will Actually Make You Want To Meal Plan
2. Pour yourself some wine.
Your meal planning notebook plus a glass of wine (or a beer, or a cocktail — we don't discriminate here!) actually makes for a very enjoyable Friday night. By Friday night, you're exhausted and tired of talking to people, anyway. Before you veg out on the couch, spend a little bit of time with your notebook and a drink and enjoy thinking about your future meals.
3. Get the family involved.
Got some picky eaters in your family? Enlist them to help you. Your 5-year-old who currently only eats foods that are round is more likely to be excited about eating something she helped plan. And getting said 5-year-old to eat, well, anything that's not a cookie means more fun during the planning session and the actual meal itself.
4. Include a new recipe that gets you really excited.
Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Pasta Wednesdays ... It's easy to get into a rut (read: super-predictable pattern) when meal planning. After all, you're probably doing this to save time (and money), so it's easier for you to cook what you know. But consider adding New Recipe Thursdays. Find one new recipe for the week that you're really excited to try and give it a go. You and your family will get to try new dishes, you'll be doing something different in the kitchen, and your Pinterest board will finally start paying off.
5. Include a night (or two) off.
We all love cooking — none of us would be on this site if we didn't! Some nights, though, we do not want to cook (or do dishes, or think). Meal planning gives us full permission to take a night or two off. There's nothing wrong with looking forward to those nights. Chinese food! And paper plates!
What do you do to find the joy in meal planning?