Get Back in the Driver’s Seat: Meal Planning Made Easy - Amber Hurdle | Brand Strategy & Leadership

Get Back in the Driver’s Seat: Meal Planning Made Easy

September 10, 2018

Make a Plan, Use timers, Move On!

It is refreshing to stay in budget and still have satisfying meals. And let’s be honest, we all have more productive  things to do with the countless minutes we spend wondering “What’s for lunch?” only to be followed by more minutes wasted pondering “What’s for dinner?”

Balancing meal prep, work, family, and friends can feel like trying to take a sip out of firehose. Life can come at you fast, and before you know it, you are just a passenger along for the ride.

Let’s get in the driver’s seat with these meal planning tips.

Plan it

Keep it simple. Brainstorm what you like to eat, what your family favorites are, then look for opportunities to add some healthy options in.  For example, if spaghetti and Texas Garlic Toast is a crowd favorite, try incorporating some Zoodles (zucchini noodles) and subbing the thick Garlic Toast with a Garlic Parmesan Flatbread. I love using the Italian Herb Flatout Flatbread.

Be efficient with meal planning without being boring. Like Italian? Make a large batch of pasta sauce and make spaghetti, lasagna and baked ziti.  Separate into separate containers, label and freeze. Now you have a pasta option that can be incorporated once a week. You just checked off one night and some lunch options for 3 weeks.

Get the family in on it. You might be like “Whaaaaaat, I thought we were putting Me in the Driver’s seat?” However, having the family involved can a) take some of the pressure off of you b) get buy in from the family, before you spend on groceries. Need to reign them in a bit?  Create a few category lists: proteins, sides, pastas and desserts. Use Pinterest or your favorite food blog for inspiration for each category and have the family check off their suggestions. Use them to streamline grocery shopping. You can also use this as a great meal prep assistance technique — “Hey little Mikey, remember those banana nut muffins you wanted? I’d love your help smashing the bananas!”

Purchase the correct storage containers. Prevent frustration by having the right resources on hand. Do you spend 20 minutes looking for the right top for that Tupperware Aunt Judy gave you, while trying to suppress a few cuss words? Maybe it is time for a new matching set of storage containers.  Try out Bento boxes for lunches. Fill them with delicious goodies without having to use multiple baggies or containers.

Dedicate 45 mins to planning per 2 week period. The more you do it, the more efficient you will be come. I like to use a timer, as I have found that if you allow 2 hours it will take 2 hours to define a plan, if you allot 45 mins, you get the job done. There a number of Apps designed to aid with meal planning and reducing waste in groceries.  Think in terms of meal times and snacks and plan accordingly.

Buy It

Pick 1 day to have “Power Hours” for shopping and prep:

  • Make the most of the Farmers Market  – organize your menu around what is in season. Make some for now freeze for later.
  • Use a grocery delivery service. There may be a bit of an upcharge, however, consider time savings and make the decision that is right for you. Be efficient with meal planning without being boring!
  • I personally like the Farmers Market and Aldi for grocery shopping. I have my large reusable bags and a quarter for the cart and I am ready to rock it out. Keep reusable bags in the car for easy access when you need them.

Prep It

This may seem non-traditional, however if you have a friend that also could use some time back and wants healthy meals, consider the buddy system.  Whether you are cooking for a family or not, it is great to have a little help in the kitchen. A friend can help wash and chop produce while you cook and pep, then they can be responsible for separating out the goods. This method works wonders and I have had so much fun with this method.

Look at core ingredients through a new lens. For example, if you buy chicken and divide it into 3 different baking pans, 1) Italian seasoning 2) fajita seasoning + liquid smoke 3) Rotisserie spices. Cover all bake on 375 for 30-35 mins. Now you have protein mix ins for: pasta, fajitas, salad, sandwiches!

Not everything has to be extremely involved. Decide on some simple easy snacks and breakfast items and make those available to grab and go. For example, create a “snack stack” in the pantry or cabinet that includes items like granola bars, fruit snacks, homemade oatmeal bars, crackers. Create another section in the fridge that has items like half of a PB&J, yogurt, and carrot sticks. Make a batch or 2 of a breakfast casserole or oatmeal bars and store in individual servings. Take the guesswork out!

Lunches can be a challenge. The bento boxes I mentioned are a great way to present, variety, freshness and best of all ownership!  Even at a very young age, kids can be involved in picking and placing items into their Bento box. This a great way to be efficient and foster some bonding time in the kitchen. Suggest making a certain to “Build your Bento”, sliced cheese, meats, fruits, veggies and slivered nuts make a great addition.

The number one rule is… there are no rules! Have fun exploring options and recipes. Find out what works and stick with it! What are some of your favorite make ahead meals? I can’t wait to hear from you.

 

About the Author

Kirbee Miller

Kirbee Miller standing in her kitchen

Kinimi Kitchen

Bombshell Business Lifestyle Expert

Kirbee Miller’s heart is in the kitchen. Cooking and baking have been monumental parts of her life since childhood. Her best memories are in the kitchen! Great food is an opportunity to authentically connect. Developing new recipes and orchestrating flavor profiles with delicious ingredients is her way to channel passion and creativity into every bite. Food should be flavorful, creative, beautiful and most importantly, should leave an impact! There are few things better than the seconds of contemplative silence that follow the first bite of delicious food …that never gets old. She’s been cooking since she was 5, and has not stopped since. She launched an online cooking show to share her inner foodie via my brand KiNiMi Kitchen!

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