With warm weather activities and vacations, summer tends to be a season of less meal planning. Taking a break from meal planning isn’t all bad, but it does lead to more frequent restaurant meals, takeout, fast food runs, and more money spent on food. If your summertime food choices tend to go off the rails, you might need some tactics for staying on track with meal planning.
5 Ways to Stay on Track with Meal Planning:
1. Have a meal-planning template.
Create a weekly theme to build meal plans around. You can focus the theme on different protein sources like Monday is chicken and Tuesday is tofu or your theme can be related to types of recipes like Monday is pasta and Tuesday is tacos. Ask your family for their favorite types of recipes, cuisines, or main ingredients, and use those as the building blocks of your theme. Creating a frame for your meal plan leaves fewer decisions and less guesswork, so making a meal plan is simple and quick.
In Plan to Eat, you can use Menus to create meal-planning templates. Simply create a Menu with a note on each day to remind you of your theme and then add that Menu to your calendar as the first thing when you go to meal plan.
2. Plan ahead now!
If meal planning in the summer feels impossible because of your schedule or lack of motivation, get started on your meal plans now. In Plan to Eat, you can plan ahead for as much time as you want and then adjust each week as it comes according to your schedule.
Set aside 15 minutes this week to add three dinners to each week of June as a starting point and then most of your planning is already done!
3. Import new, yummy summer recipes now.
Eating fresh produce is one of the joys of summer, but maybe you have no idea how to prepare certain fruits and veggies when they come in season. Summer produce is already making its way into grocery stores and farmer’s markets, so get some seasonal recipe inspiration now! Find summer recipe lists and podcasts with recommendations, so you can easily plan those recipes when fresh produce is available. And you can add tags to your recipes in Plan to Eat that correspond with a season or month when that food is at its most fresh.
4. Use the summer as a time for family meal planning and cooking.
Boost motivation and inspiration by having your kids or partner help with the cooking and meal-planning process. The school year can be a challenging time to get your kids involved in the kitchen because of all their extra activities, but summer is a great time to get their help! Younger kids can learn some cooking basics, while older kids can help with the entire planning and cooking process from start to finish.
5. Get some freezer meals ready.
We don’t often think of summer as the time for freezer meals, but stocking your freezer now can help when you have a busy night or don’t want to heat up the kitchen with all the appliances. Freezer prep for the summer can be as simple as preparing hamburgers to defrost and reheat or chopping veggies for a stir-fry dish. You can also freeze leftovers for a quick meal that takes little effort to get ready.