Capsule Menu: Spring Edition
By: Rachel Moyer
Lately, I've been trying to simplify life. There are so many tasks that need to be completed every day or every week that I started thinking about if there are any I can automate, at least to a point, to free up some mental energy and time. Getting dinner on the table is one of those tasks. Can you believe that our families need to eat dinner every single day? It's completely crazy.
Meal planning (or not meal planning and then scrambling) is something that really adds to the mental load every day. I've tried a lot of systems for this task and I think I've finally landed on one that works for us. I hope it can work for you too!
Here's how I used to do meal planning:
1. I would spend an hour or so every week planning meals, which took up time and mental space, consistently.
2. Or more often, I wouldn't plan our meals, which meant that we'd eat the same mediocre meals on repeat and/or waste a lot of food because I didn't shop smartly.
Here is how my automated meal planning goes:
1. Instead of planning meals every WEEK, I've started planning meals every SEASON. I'm trying to eat more seasonally, anyway, so this method will help us to eat more locally AND it means I only need to plan 4 times (seasons) per year instead of 52 times (weeks) per year.
2. ONCE PER SEASON, I plan 4 weeks of meals. Then I repeat the menu 3 times = 12 weeks. We eat the same meal one time per month for three months. That's way less repetition than we get when I'm not planning meals.
3. To make initial planning easier, I give each day of the week a loose theme and pick 4 meals within the theme. You'll see in my Spring Menu below, some of the meals I chose are easy, some are more time-consuming, and some are easy to make double and freeze. Work smarter, not harder.
Do I stick to the plan every day? Absolutely not! We go out to eat sometimes, order-in, or sometimes I just want to make a frozen pizza. BUT, I have found that having the meal plan as a default is so helpful. I literally never again have to think, "It's 5pm, what should I make for dinner?"
- Feel free to snag this meal plan, or more likely, use this system to create one of your own. It can be simple: Theme: Pasta; Variations: With red sauce // With Pesto Sauce // With Cheese // Ravioli
- Make sure to add enough easy meals to your rotation so you don't get burnt out from cooking every day.
- Double recipes where you can and throw things in the freezer for an easy meal later. It often takes just as much work to make one lasagna as two. (And remember, you'll be eating that same meal again next month anyway).
- Picky kids? Get them involved with cooking! Children are much more inclined to try foods they've helped prepare. It can take up to 15 times of introducing a new food for a child to accept it. Oy!
- I like to print all of my recipes and put them in a binder to keep in the kitchen. This makes it easier to find the recipes and means I don't have to fiddle with technology while cooking. And then I have them for next year.
Find our spring recipes below and on our Spring Capsule Pinterest Board.
Share your favorite go-to recipes in the comments!