1. Make a weekly meal calendar
Set aside a few minutes on the weekend to map out meals for the coming week. It needn’t take long or be fancy; I use your calendar and recipes ideas that I already have in books or internet. It takes me about 15 minutes to jot down my ideas. Mix your go-to recipes with the new ones you want to try. Have fun with theme nights like Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday. Serve pasta every Wednesday or fish every Friday; narrowing menu choices stream- lines planning. And be sure to plan for leftovers. (When you have an a few nights of leftover entrée pickings, make one side dish that compliments them all and have a leftover Smörgåsbord!)
2. Set time aside each week to look for new recipes
Grab your cookbooks and/or check out your favorite websites, and get inspired (there are plenty of recipes in my blog!). Look for one or two new recipes to try each week, and have fun. If you love a recipe and plan to bring it into your go-to rotation, consider writing the ingredients on an index card for easy shopping.
3. Engage the family
Have family members help pick out a new recipe or suggest an old favorite that can be added to your weekly meal calendar. Have them contribute to preparing “their” special meal (if only setting the table).
4. Shop wisely
Use grocery market circulars or online ads to see what’s on sale, and factor these items into your meal plans. With menus set, make a shopping list. Going food shopping after you have eaten keeps temptation and impulse buying at bay.
5. Keep pantry staples well stocked
Keep your cupboard, fridge, and freezer stocked with healthy staples, especially for recipes you make often. I keep skinless boneless chicken breasts, tilapia, shrimp, and lean ground beef (all organic and well sourced) in my freezer at all times. With pantry staples like seaweed pasta, gluten-free wraps, pure organic broth tables, canned tomato products, spices, and beans—along with any fresh (or frozen) veggies I have on hand—I can always throw together a delicious and healthy meal.
6. Prep ahead
When you get home from the market, wash vegetables so they will be ready to use. On Sunday prepare a big batch of marinara, chicken stock, or Moist and Flavorful Chicken for Days, and use these for meals throughout the week.
7. Fix it and freeze it
Soups, stews, and chilis not only freeze well, but also taste just as good, or sometimes even better, when reheated. Other great-for-freezing items are meatballs, meat loaf (cooked or ready to cook), and muffins. Slice quick breads or on-the-go bars, and wrap individual servings. A quick reheat in the microwave on high power for 30 seconds brings back fresh- baked goodness.