How to Prepare Dinner for the Week

For busy families, planning home-cooked meals for every night of the week can be extremely challenging. Between creating a menu plan, shopping for ingredients, and actually preparing the food, many people find themselves at a loss on how to prepare dinner for the week and give up in favor of fast food. Learning the basics of weekly dinner preparation, along with some tips on how to best organize yourself and your plans, can make day-to-day dinners a snap.


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    Assess your personal situation. Before you begin you must understand what will or won't work for you. Answering these questions first will help set the stage for planning weekly dinners ahead of time.
    • When is the best time of the week for you to do the grocery shopping?
    • Do you have enough refrigerator/freezer space to hold a week's worth of food?
    • Do you have a specific time of day that works best for everyone to eat? How much time can you dedicate each evening to cooking?
    • Do you have a food budget you need to stick to?
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    Read advertisements from the local paper to see what's on sale at your local grocery store. Knowing what's on sale can help you plan the dinners and save you money.
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    Plan your dinners for each night at the beginning of the week, choosing entrees that will fit in the criteria you defined above. You can research recipe ideas on the Internet, or in cookbooks. Pay attention to total cooking times, which many recipes list at the top, as this information will help determine if you will have time to cook the meal.
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    Write down all the ingredients you will need for each dinner on a central list. This is the master list you will use to shop for groceries. Consider organizing your list to follow the set up of your local grocery store, which may save additional time when shopping.
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    Take an inventory of your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before you go. Write down any staple items on your list that need to be replenished, such as milk, eggs, or butter.
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    Use leftovers whenever possible in your menu planning. If you make a ham one night, look for recipes that call for ham in different ways for the next couple of nights. This option will take a lot of pressure off you by cutting cooking times significantly while still offering variety of food choices.
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    Visit your local grocery store to purchase the items on your list. Optimally, you should only shop once a week. If possible, shop early in the morning on the day you go, which generally is a less busy shopping time.
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    Ask family members to help in meal preparation, including cleaning up before and after. Whether it's chopping vegetables or setting the table, anything you don't have to do can cut down on prep time. If you have children, this is a terrific opportunity to take the mystery out of cooking and help them develop cooking skills they will need as adults.
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    Recycle your menu plans. Save each week's menu plan in a file, and use them again in the future. Having a ready-made plan can be very handy in the future. Once you build a big enough file, you may only have to repeat dinners rarely if you so desire.

Things You'll Need

  • Local grocery store advertisement
  • Ingredient list for recipes
  • Dinner recipes
  • File for saving menu plans

Article Info

Categories: Meal Planning