MEAL PLAN­NING

GET­TING STARTED Un­til the day that din­ner mag­i­cally ma­te­ri­al­izes, here’s a no-fail method of putting home-cooked food on your ta­ble all week long.

Secrets of Getting Organized - - Kitchen + Pantry -

Meal plan­ning is about Match­ing up two things:

What your fam­ily will eat and when they will eat it.

Be­gin by writ­ing down all the main dishes your fam­ily likes. Elim­i­nate any that take longer than 20–30 min­utes to pre­pare. Keep brain­storm­ing un­til you have 21 dishes. “Pantry-fo­cused Recipe Sources,” below, of­fers more in­spi­ra­tion. “Al­though 21 en­trées may seem like a small amount, you can still have sur­pris­ingly good va­ri­ety over a month,” Kathy Jenk­ins says, not­ing that you’ll likely eat out or get take­out once or twice a week and have a few days of left­overs. If you’re con­cerned that you’ll be bored, ded­i­cate one or two days dur­ing the month to try­ing new recipes. Com­ple­ment your main cour­ses with a list of ba­sic go-alongs that work with most meals, such as salad, steam­able veg­gies, rice, pasta, and quinoa.

Next, write down din­ner­time com­mit­ments for the next month, in­clud­ing va­ca­tions, late work­days, prac­tices, games, per­for­mances, and meet­ings. Map out the en­tire month on pa­per or in a shared on­line doc­u­ment (you don’t need to learn a new tool or app) and then “pub­lish” next week’s plan on a chalk­board or dry-erase board near your pantry. As­sign chef and helper roles for each meal based on fam­ily mem­bers’ skills and avail­abil­ity. Snap a pic of your menu board on Sun­day night and text it to your fam­ily. “Ev­ery­one can look at the board or the pic and know what’s for din­ner and what they can work on,” Kate Martin says.

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