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Meal Planning

Meal Planning Ideas for Busy Times on the Suncoast

| Angela Naff |

As we head into spring, everyone’s calendars get busier, and time becomes a premium. Meal planning is one way that many people find to save money, budget food costs, and eliminate the big what to eat dilemma from their days. When school, volunteering, and weekend events are at their highest, this might be a great option for many Suncoast families, as well as individuals. We have compiled a couple of easy meal planning tips to help get you started.

Step Into Planning

If you have never created a meal plan or are getting back into it after a long hiatus, it may feel a bit daunting. Developing a meal planning habit is no different than making any other positive change in your life. Starting small and slowly building confidence is a great way to ensure your new habit is sustainable. Begin by planning out just a few meals or snacks for the week ahead. Eventually, you’ll figure out which planning strategies work best, and you can slowly build upon your plan by adding in more meals as you see fit.

Meal Planning

The List

One great strategy for meal planning is writing down all of the ingredients you plan to make. Just be sure to cross off items you already have on hand. This helps you organize, making sure nothing is missed and

Decide on Your Number

Have a look at your calendar for the coming week and decide the number of nights you want to make dinner at home. Five nights is the most common denominator, but three nights is the sweet spot for some people. Then you’ve got to hone in even further. On the nights that you’re cooking, what do those meals need to do? For example, a 10-hour slow cooker recipe is a good idea on the nights that your kid has swim class. If it’s just you and your partner and she’s working late, you might need something that you can also bring as tomorrow’s lunch.

Schedule the Time

You have to work your meal prep into your routine for the first month, so it is smart to schedule off a block of time dedicated to your meal prep. Set a reminder on your phone. At first, you might feel like it’s a chore, but I’m betting once you get going, and you see how AWESOME it is to not have to worry about your meals during the week, you’ll look forward to it!

Be Sure Recipes are Fan Favorites


You do not need to make a completely new menu every week. Most families cycle between about 8-10 meals regularly. Make a list of the meals you know your family loves and will eat. This can be anything from staples like spaghetti and meatballs to simple favorites like roast chicken and mashed potatoes. As you make new dishes, your family enjoys, add them to your list. This will be sure you know how to make them, and that all the meal planning will be useful. If you make recipes that are new or unlike it could actually undermine your meal planning with wasted food.

Are you ready to start meal planning? Or maybe you are a rockstar already doing this to help with time management, food shopping, and the like – are there things you think could make your process better? Whatever the case, we hope that everyone finds time to get outdoors, spend with loved ones and enjoy the amazing Spring weather headed in our direction.

Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos

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