tools for 2013

Tools for 2013:  Meal Planning

I’m really excited about this new series we’re kicking off for the start of 2013.  We’ll be sharing a series of articles to help provide you with resources and also highlight facilities & businesses in Forsyth County along the way.   And we’re kicking it all off with Meal Planning.

Meal Planning: 

Do you have that dreaded 5 o’clock hour in your household or is it just me?  I’ve always wanted to be better at meal planning and this new year I’ll be forced to as we’re working on some dietary restrictions for my daughter.  It’s all a little overwhelming for me, but I think meal plans will be the key.
There are so many different types of meal planning.  Whatever your style, you can probably find a great resource that is perfect for you & your family!

  • One a month freezer cooking:  
    If you haven’t already heard we have a Girl’s Night Out in just a few weeks at Dream Dinners of Cumming.  I am super excited about this event!  With the Dream Dinners service, you select your recipes online and then show up to prepare your meals.  All the shopping and much of the prep work is already done.  You assemble the meals and leave with food to stock your freezer!  And major plus?  No mess in your own kitchen!!

Note:  The GNO Event is already sold out (it took less than 48 hours to do so – a good sign that many of you are as excited as I am), but you can still get in on all that Dream Dinners has to offer you.  They are hosting an Open House Event this Thursday, January 10th – it’s a time to sample the menu, tour their space & learn more about all that is offered.   There’s even a chance to win a $50 Gift Certificate for a future night!  See the January 10th listing on our Calendar of Events to learn more.

  • Once a month freezer cooking at home:
    A friend of mine runs a great website, Once a Month Mom, that offers several menu options to choose from – traditional, vegetarian, real foods, and even paleo.  For a small membership fee, you’ll recieve Recipe cards, a grocery list, food labels and instructions to cook all of your meals for the month in one day.  I’ve used this method and the services offered from OAMM several times and have always loved having my freezer stocked!  Of course, as opposed to the local option – you have to do all the shopping, prep work and clean up too!
  • Once a week meal planning:
    If once a month cooking seems a bit overwhelming, Meals by the Week is another option. You’ll receive a weekly meal plan and instructions for buying all of your ingredients at one time and then cooking dinner each night. Menus are planned based on sale items at your grocery store. Currently, Meals by the Week publishes 18 different menus each week including a Vegetarian and a 400 Calorie menu.
  • Weekly Planning at Home: 
    Taking a few moments just once a week can definitely bring sanity during the dinner hour!  With your family’s calendar in hand, make note of how many dinners you’ll be cooking at home for the week ahead.  Use your family favorites, new recipes you find online or on pinterest (follow me while you’re there!), and make note of which nights you’ll prepare each meal.  Make your grocery list, shop, and prepare as much as you can in advance.  A lot of families even write the dinner menu on a calendar so the family can know what they’re expecting – eliminates the “What’s for dinner questions”.  When that night rolls around, cook & eat!

So, what are your favorite ways to “Meal Plan” your week or month?    I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments below. 
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