Meal planning can seem overwhelming. If you’ve never made a meal plan before, it can sound intimidating and time-consuming. I’m here to give you a few ideas to help you navigate planning your meals.
If you have no idea where to start or what to do, I am going to help you get started. Plus I have a FREE Weekly Meal Planner that is simple and easy to use and makes planning weekly meals and your grocery list a lot easier.
How to Start Meal Planning
Meal planning does not have to be hard or complicated. Keep it simple and it will make your life so much easier and save you money!
Make A List Of Your Family’s Favorite Meals
This is a good thing to have handy any time you are headed to the grocery store, and it is really crucial when meal planning. Start by making a list of all the meals your family enjoys eating. If you want to take this a step further, you can even divide it into easy and challenging meals to make. If you’re unsure, ask each family member what is their favorite meal. Aim for at least 15 favorite meals to get you started.
Make Your Meal Plan And Grocery List At The Same Time
I keep meal planning very simple otherwise I end up not doing it. I use a simple meal planner form. You can download the FREE Meal Planner here! As I write down each days meal for the week I also add any ingredients I need to buy to my grocery list. This gets my weekly meal plan and my shopping list done at the same time. I keep breakfast and lunch easy by keeping oatmeal, cereal, fruit, yogurt, eggs, bread, lunch meat, cheese, salad ingredients, peanut butter and soup on hand for quick and easy choices.
Aim For Quick And Easy Meals On Busy Nights
There will always be busy days no matter how much we try to avoid them. Having a plan for these days will make a stressful day a lot easier. Around here, it’s Mondays. If you have kids in after school activities it may be several nights a week that are chaotic. Meal planning should make your life easier! Don’t plan something elaborate when you know you’re going to be rushing in and out of the door. Slow cooker meals are great for busy days. When choosing meals for those busy days go for something easy and quick, even if it’s something basic like pizza or soup and sandwich. The important thing is to have a plan in place so you can avoid fast food.
Incorporate One New Meal Each Week
Meal planning also gives you the opportunity to try something new! Pick a few recipes you would like to try and let your family take turns choosing which one to make each week. This meal should be on whatever night everyone will be home so that they all get a chance to try it. If it’s a hit you can add it to your monthly rotation. Incorporating new recipes is a great way to encourage everyone to try new foods.
Use What You Have
Open up your cupboards, pantry, refrigerator and your freezer! Look through what you already have before you head to the store to buy more food. You’ll probably be surprised how much you have to work with right in your own home. See what meals you can make from what you already have before you head to the grocery store. If you have parts of a recipe, see if you can add a few more items to make it a meal. If you have taco shells and shredded cheese, then you might only need ground beef for taco night.
Choose Theme Nights
If you want to keep it really simple you can go with theme nights. Make Monday’s pasta night, Tuesday Taco’s, Wednesday casserole, Thursday slow cooker meal and Friday breakfast for dinner. Theme nights are a great way to simplify meal planning. Just choose the theme’s that your family likes the most.
Keep Quick Go-To Meals On Hand
For those days that you forget to thaw the meat or your schedule changes at the last minute, make sure you keep some quick go-to meals on hand that you can make quickly. Easy quick meals include pasta and your favorite marinara sauce, can of soup and grilled cheese, bean burritos (refried beans, tortilla’s and shredded cheese), Egg Sandwiches (scrambled eggs on toast), Pizza on bagels or English muffins, tuna melts, and BLT’s. Dinner doesn’t always have to be fancy. Some days you just need to keep it simple.
Don’t plan complicated meals with lots of ingredients during the week when you know you’ll be tired after work or the kids will have after school activities or lots of homework to get done. If you can only handle 15-minute meals right now, don’t try to make something that will take an hour or more. When planning your meals, you need to be realistic about what you’re capable of making, and what you can handle. If your meal planning is too overwhelming, you won’t be able to stick with it.
When done right, meal planning will make your life so much easier! No more trying to figure out what to eat at the last minute or overspending on take out because you have nothing planned.
When you’re making your meal plans, keep your recipes simple and be realistic about what your family can handle in this season in life, and have some fun with it!