Meal planning is a great way to save time, money, and energy. It also helps you stick to your healthy eating goals. But if you’re new to meal planning, it can feel overwhelming—especially if you’re not sure what goes into making one. That’s why we’ve put together this beginner’s guide: We’ll walk you through all the steps of creating a solid meal plan for the week and give tricks for keeping yourself on track throughout the week (and beyond).
Get your hands on some meal-planning supplies.
- Get your hands on some meal-planning supplies.
- Use a calendar to plan meals. It’s easy to remember what you must do when you’re busy, so make sure you write down each day’s meals in advance. This way, you won’t have any surprises come dinner time! If this seems like too much work (or if you want something more convenient), there are plenty of other options available:
- Use an app! There are tons of great apps out there that will help keep track of what groceries need to be purchased and how much food is left over at the end of each week. Plus, most will generate shopping lists based on what ingredients were used in each recipe–so no more forgetting anything important at home!
- Please write it down on a whiteboard or chalkboard in your kitchen area so that everyone knows what’s going on upstairs with dinner plans…or downstairs…or wherever else they may be hanging out while waiting for dinner time excitement!
- Please make sure everyone knows which recipes are favorites around here by making a note of them all together somewhere easily accessible (but not too close) to where we spend most days cooking up deliciousness together as family members 🙂
Find recipes that fit your diet and meal preferences.
The next step is to find recipes that fit your diet and meal preferences. Are you trying to lose weight? Do you have dietary restrictions? Are there any foods that you don’t like or don’t want to eat for some reason? These are important questions to ask yourself when choosing recipes for the week.
Some people prefer to make their own meals from scratch, while others prefer pre-made meals from grocery stores or restaurants. You can also find plenty of recipes online, but be sure they’re healthy and nutritious before assuming they’ll work for your family’s needs!
It’s also important that any recipe chosen is easy enough for everyone in the family–especially children–to make on their own without assistance from an adult if necessary (although this isn’t always possible). The last thing anyone wants after a long day at work/school/etc. Is having another stressful task on their plate: making dinner!
Create a shopping list based on your recipes, combining ingredients you must buy fresh with pantry staples.
- Create a shopping list based on your recipes, combining ingredients you must buy fresh with pantry staples.
- Remember to include pantry staples like salt and pepper! You’ll need these for multiple recipes.
- Remember the items that are used in multiple recipes (e.g., garlic). They’ll save you time and money at the store if you buy them in bulk instead of buying just enough for one recipe at a time.
Plan meals that will save you time during the week.
- Use the slow cooker. If you don’t already have one, this is a great time to buy one! Slow cookers are great because they can make dinner in just a few hours and then use them for other recipes later. You can also use your slow cooker for food prep by cooking grains or beans overnight to prepare them when it’s time to eat.
- Make sheet pan meals. Sheet pan meals are super easy because everything is cooked all at once on one tray (hence “sheet”). They’re also very healthy since they cut down on fat by baking instead of frying or sauteing foods.* Make big batches of something and freeze half for later use.* Make big batches of something and eat it for lunch.* Make big batches of something and eat it
Check the weather forecast before making plans.
- Check the weather forecast before making plans.
- If you have a busy week ahead, consider making one of your meals extra easy to prepare. This will help ensure that you have time to eat and enjoy it!
- Remember cleanup! If it looks like rain, make sure to put away all of your kitchen tools before heading out so they don’t get wet or dirty.
Create a go-to recipe for when you’re pressed for time and need to get fuel on the table fast.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to make every meal from scratch. There are plenty of ways to save time and money by using ingredients easy when prepare, such as canned beans or chopped veggies.
If you’re pressed for time, consider making one go-to recipe that can be prepared quickly with minimal ingredients. For example:
- Chicken cutlets + vegetables + rice noodles (you can use leftover chicken)
- Ground beef + spaghetti sauce + pasta (you can use leftover ground beef)
Cook extra protein on Sundays so it’s ready to go each night of the week.
There are a number of reasons why cooking extra protein on Sundays are a good idea. First off, it will save you time later in the week. Cooking chicken or beef on Sunday means that all you have to do each night is cook some vegetables and heat up your leftovers for dinner. This way, instead of spending half an hour each evening making something from scratch (and potentially running out of ingredients), all you need to do is throw together one quick meal that still tastes delicious! It also makes it easier for people who work full-time jobs; they don’t have to worry about what they’re going eat during their lunch break because they know there’s already food waiting at home!
If possible, try freezing these pre-cooked meals so they last longer–this way. When someone comes home late after work with no time or energy left over before bedtime (or whatever else). And there isn’t any stress involved with trying to figure out what exactly needs doing first thing in order get everything else later down the line when needed most urgently.
Figure out what you can make in advance so it’s ready to reheat later in the week.
When planning your weekly meals, it’s important to consider how much food you’ll need for each meal. If you’re making a dish for couple of days ahead in a row (like lasagna or chicken parmesan). You can make sure that there are enough leftovers for the second night.
If there are any dishes that won’t hold up well in the fridge or freezer, consider preparing those items first so they can go directly into the freezer without cooking yet. A good example of this would be berries. Since they don’t actually get cooked when frozen (they lose their water content), they can go directly into bags after washing them off with cool water and drying them off with paper towels; no cooking is required!
We’ve covered a lot in this post, but don’t let it intimidate you! Meal planning is a great way to save money, eat healthier, and more efficiently use your time. It can be fun and easy if you take the first step and get started with these tips.