So some people are afraid that meal planning will be too rigid, and that they won’t be able to stick to it. Me, I also worry that the kids will get bored with the same meals all the time. Or as we have a tingi culture -where we are only able to prepare for our next meal, the concept of meal planning can be a little hard.
But if you actually sit down and find a way to make it work (I know, we moms will have to make several mental gymnastics and matindihang budgeting in order to make this happen) -meal planning can be a fantastic way to save money and time. Although yes, we all know it can be intimidating.
As I mentioned, you might be worried that you’ll get bored eating the same thing all the time, or that it’s too rigid and inflexible. Don’t worry; I’m here to help. Today, I will help you tackle these common concerns.
Let’s get started!
Find and incorporate variety
When it comes to meal planning, it’s essential to have a wide variety of foods and recipes. Trying new foods can make meal planning much more exciting. Good thing our Philippine climate provides us with so much variety in vegetables, rootcrops, and seafoods, and even meats! Did you know that adding new foods to your diet can help you achieve better health? A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who ate more fruits and vegetables had a lower risk of heart disease and cancer.
Build in flexibility
It’s essential to remember that life happens, and things don’t always go according to plan. That’s why it’s important to build in flexibility when meal planning. Yes, mom, it’s okay to change your mind. If you have defined Chopsuey for Friday but you have leftover veggies that will go bad if you don’t use it, then switch the meals as you wish. You could plan for leftovers or accidents -such as opps, there’s no electricity and meat will go bad (this happens on my island a lot!). You can also use flexible meal-planning tools and templates so it’s not hard to remember. This can help you be more adaptable and less rigid in your meal planning.
Create meal plan themes
Another great idea is if you could try incorporating different cuisines into your meal planning. Have a “Taco Tuesday” or “Mexican Monday (lol, I think that’s both Mexican)” night where you explore new recipes and cultures. But you get the idea -we as a culture are very open to other food cultures and there’s a veritable open option for us -Italian, Spanish, Japanese (and lately Korean). You can have endless ideas!
This is important for variety as I mentioned earlier but also creates excitement for you and the family. Building weekly or monthly themes around certain cuisines or types of meals is important to add variety and excitement to your meal-planning routine. Go ahead and plan that “Pizza Night” or make an”Italian Week” theme and incorporate family favorites and traditional meals.
Make a list of meals you enjoy eating. Brainstorm all the different meals you like to eat – from soups and salads to sandwiches, stir-fries, and casseroles. This will give you a good starting point for creating your meal plan. Also, think about what ingredients you already have on hand. Before heading out to the grocery store, take inventory of what’s already in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. This will help reduce food waste and save money too!
Make it fun
Finally, meal planning can be fun! Make it a social activity by planning and cooking with family. I do my market on weekends so Saturday is plan day for us. If you’re up to it, you could create a meal planning game where each family member gets to pick a theme or recipe to include in the plan. Include special requests and even have them help with meal prepping.
I hope you can think about it and try to implement meal planning. I cannot stress enough how it really helps with saving some of those precious resources. Remember, meal planning doesn’t have to be rigid or boring. With the right tools and attitude, it can be exciting and satisfying. Incorporating variety, flexibility, meal plan themes, and making it fun will help you stay motivated and inspired. Happy meal planning!