Nearly two years ago I started meal planning monthly. The benefits are amazing!!
I found writing my grocery list for shopping each week was faster and easier. It also helped to make our meals more creative, as we didn't repeat the same dinners quite as often. Instead of pasta every week, we were eating it more like every 10 days. If I decided to have two of the same meals in a month, I found I could cook once, and freeze the extra for the second meal later in the month. And that was a big time saver.
I will be honest I do get out of the habit of monthly meal planning sometimes. Usually it's summer where the schedule is more flexible. But I'm always so relieved when I start back up for all the reasons I mentioned above.
Do you know what else I do to help make cooking easier? I prep the dinner ahead! The best example of this is using a crockpot, where you put all ingredients in a crockpot in the morning and it is ready to eat at dinner.
My picture below is of cut vegetables that I will be roasting in the oven at meal time. This particular day I had a necessary errand to run when I usually begin meal prep. I cut all the veggies up in the afternoon, coated them with seasonings and olive oil. I put them in the fridge for cooking later. When I returned home, I was able to turn the oven on for roasting and get the veggies going pretty quickly. It would have taken longer if I hadn't done the chopping earlier in the day.
What do you do to help with your meal planning? How many meals do you plan for at a time? Do you prep ahead for any cooking tasks?