Planning Meals for Your Family? Top 4 Factors to Consider

Are you one of those people who work 60 hours a week? Do you have a family or wish you could make a nice dinner in a flash? Well, guess what? How about dinner in 5 minutes? Does this seem too good to be true? Well, it is not. With the right equipment, a good strategy, and the right ingredients, you too can make dinner in 5 minutes flat!

So, What are all the factors to consider when planning meals for your family?

factors to consider when planning meals

Preparation is key.

Making a quick dinner requires good preparation. Equipment is very important to get the job done quickly and effectively. Primarily, you will need a microwave, sharp knives, scissors, quality pots and pans with lids, and hot/cold water that is easily attainable.

If you have a water service like Alhambra, they provide a unit you can get with a cold and hot water dispenser. Those come in very handy. If not, a simple plug-in kettle that will boil water will do fine. And if you have a fridge with a cold water and ice dispenser, that works out good too.

A good strategy!

A good strategy is one that involves thinking of what to make for dinner beforehand, having all the items required to prepare the food, and how to serve it. For example, say you wanted to make spaghetti with meatballs. If you had a package of pre-cooked frozen meatballs, and a buttered and seasoned baguette, then you could just make the spaghetti pasta, toast the bread and microwave the meatballs.

Then, serve it all on a nice dish. You would not believe how fast you could do this with your equipment and preparation.

Choosing your ingredients.

This is the most important part to cooking very quickly. The right ingredients are usually pre-packaged (but fresh). This could be like frozen pre-cooked meatballs or any type of meat, pre-chopped frozen onions or veggies, and canned goods.

Whatever it is, it is pre-made somehow but frozen so that it will be freshly heated, or re-heated to taste like it took forever to make.

How to make a meal plan step-by-step?

1. Draw up a weeknight dinner planner

Grab a piece of paper and draw up a Weeknight Dinner Menu with days of the week at the top. Next label a column on the left with Week 1, Week 2 and so on. You can add as many weeks as you like.

Next you will need to work out what dinner theme you would like for each day of the week. This will help to keep meals interesting and you will love the variety!

Your week may look like this: 

  • MONDAY – Chicken
  • TUESDAY – Vegetarian
  • WEDNESDAY – Seafood
  • THURSDAY – Red Meat
  • FRIDAY – Quick Kids Favorite / Vegetarian

2. Plan ahead.

Nothing has people reaching for the take-out menu faster than a lack of planning. If you’ve been trying to plan dinner after 5 pm, odds are that you give up on cooking most days. Make sure to plan at least five meals each week and have the ingredients on hand. If you have enough food to make several different types of meals, you’ll be less likely to eat out.

Each morning, decide what you’ll make for dinner that night. At this time, you may decide to put any meat that needs to defrost in the refrigerator, and double check that you have all of the ingredients. Review the recipe and figure out when you’ll need to start making dinner in order to have it done on time.

3. Come up with a system for dinner recipes.

Quick dinners are easy when you have a system to follow. Keep your dinners to an easy formula of protein plus carbohydrate plus vegetable and you’ll be able to make dinner quickly.

factors to consider when planning meals

This formula can cover a wide range of possibilities – baked chicken with cheesy noodles and broccoli, grilled steak with peppers and onions served with tortillas, sautéed ground beef with Asian vegetables served over rice. The possibilities are endless!

4. Cook/buy some ingredients ahead of time.

Ground beef can be used in many different recipes, from spaghetti to tacos. It takes just as much time to brown two pounds of beef as it does to brown a half a pound. On a weekend, brown and freeze several pounds of ground beef or ground turkey.

This way, the next time you cook a recipe that calls for ground beef you’ll just have to reheat it. You can do the same thing with chicken pieces.

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