Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Meal Planning 101

Why do a meal plan?

Meal planning is simple.
It takes as much, or as little, time as you wish to spend on it.
No fancy equipment is required so it is a low cost process.
Reduces stress figuring out what to fix every night.
Saves time and money on grocery shopping.
Limits food waste.
Boosts nutrition.

It really is simple:

I begin by brainstorming a long list of our favorite meals.  This is a great thing to get the family involved in.   They’ll probably come up with more things than you would originally think of .  You’ll also find out what they like and certainly what they don’t.

Periodically I review this list and add additional items as I come across new ideas and recipes.  I also find this list is useful for when I get stumped and run out of ideas preparing a meal plan

How much time you spend meal planning is really up to you:

I have planned on a weekly, bi-weekly and monthly basis.  Personally, I find I spend far less time planning if I do an entire month at a time.

No fancy equipment needed:

I have written them up on a month at a glance calendar, then on calendar pages I made myself on the computer.  I've also used a variety of free and homemade templates.

Lots of great ideas are helpful:

Consider making each day of the week a theme such as:

Sunday – Slow Cooker Meals
Monday – Taco Nite, Tuesday – Chicken
Wednesday – Italian
Thursday – Meatless Meals
Friday – Pizza Nite
Saturday – leftovers.

Keep menus balanced.  Include a protein, a grain, a vegetable and/or a fruit, and a dairy.

Plan meals that use fresh produce around your shopping days and canned or frozen vegetables further out.

Plan simple, quick and easy to prepare meals on the nights when you know will have less time for meal preparation.  Plan more labor intensive meals or meals that take longer to cook or bake for the weekend.

Plan your meals based on the items you already have in your pantry and freezer.

Don’t forget to post it:

I keep it on the side of the refrigerator.  Having it visible helps me stick to it and remind me of what is coming up so I can defrost meats.  My family loves knowing what is on the culinary horizon too.

It really, really is that easy!  So how about it?  Any meal planning converts out there?


  1. I agree that meal planning is very important- I find it helps me keep my sanity, as well as my budget, intact. :)


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