Do you want to get organized and reduce your daily stress? Maybe it’s difficult to come up with new ideas for meals. Perhaps you’ve questioned how to do weekly meal planning. Read on to discover how to do easy weekly meal planning that will save you loads of time and reduce your stress.
What is Meal Planning?
Here’s the good news…meal planning is easy! Meal planning is the act of pre-determining what you will have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the week. Yup! That’s it! It’s not rocket science!
It requires a little time up front, typically less than an hour, but can save you time in the end. Let’s take a look at the benefits of meal planning.
Why should I start Meal Planning?
Why should you invest up to one hour a week to plan out your family’s meals? First, think about the last gong-show dinner time your family had. If your house is anything like mine, it might have looked like this. The kids were melting down, your toddler kept grabbing snacks out of the pantry because he was so hungry. Your husband was trying to help but you kept bumping into each other in the kitchen. And, your other child was hungry for anything that got her attention because she was “bored.”
Just as you figure out what you’re going to cook, you realize you are missing a key ingredient. Smoke starts to come out of your head and you decide to just order pizza again! Now, your not only frustrated but also discouraged, because the added calories didn’t fit into your health goals, but what else are you going to do?
If we unravel that story a little, you can see that had you planned your meals for the week and done your grocery shopping in advance you could have avoided this scene altogether.
By planning your meals in advance, you don’t leave decisions to one of the most vulnerable times of the day when everyone is tired. You don’t leave groceries to chance and you save yourself multiple trips to the grocery store which saves you a lot of time during the week.
What are the steps to Meal Planning?
Let’s talk about how to do easy weekly meal planning. Now, remember, I told you this would be easy!
- First, look at the week ahead. What types of commitments does your family have? You may want to note the days that are particularly busy and make sure you have easy meals planned for those days.
Protip: Typically, families’ eat-in 4 to 5 nights a week.
- Make a list of what your family usually eats for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. It’s not unusual for people to often eat the same things every week for breakfast and lunch, but want more variety for dinner.
You can use a blank sheet of paper, a notepad, a printable (like mine at the end of this post) or an app to plan your meals.
- Make a list of your dinner ideas Like I said, this is the one that requires a little more prep. I find myself looking for inspiration almost every week when I do my meal planning. There are a few ideas below if you need recipe inspiration!
- Create your grocery list – based on your recipes for dinners and the foods for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, make your grocery list. My Meal Planner at the end of this post has a space for both the meal plan and your groceries. I’ve also found several apps that are easy to use if you prefer a technical solution.
Where can I get recipes and inspiration for my meal plan?
Here are some of the resources I love for meal planning inspiration.
All Recipes is a trusted resource, I’ve used it for over a decade! They have both a website and an app. I love that you can search by category and that people put ratings and tips for how they tweaked recipes.
Pinterest is another go-to for me. It’s full of so many great ideas especially if you’re doing a special diet like keto, vegan, or gluten-free.
A few months ago I discovered Cozi and fell in love! Cozi is also a website and an app. It does a lot of different things, but the way we use it is to plan meals and grocery shopping. I love that my husband and I can both have the app on our phones and share grocery lists. You can have multiple lists e.g. one for the neighborhood grocery store and one for the wholesale store.
Cozi also offers recipes and you can very easily import recipes from other websites. Then you can assign recipes to specific meals/days of the week. Lastly, you can add ingredients from the recipes to the grocery list. Seriously, check this app out if you prefer a hi-tech solution.
Mealime is another app I recently started using. You put in your preferences e.g diet type (Gluten Free, Vegan, etc.) you also tell it things you don’t like (tofu, etc.). You also indicate how many people you’re cooking for. Every week it generates a list of recipes for you to choose from and has a grocery list feature.
Another option I used in the past is a service like the Fresh 20. For a small fee, they create a meal plan and grocery list for you and send it to you each week. I wrote more about meal planning services here.
Grab my Free Printable
If you want to save your family from meal time stress, cut back on the number of times you go to the grocery store each week, and eat healthier, give meal planning a try! Check out websites, cookbooks, and apps for recipe inspiration. If you like the idea of meal planning, but just don’t have the time to do it, check out some meal planning services and have them do the leg work for you!
Looking for More Inspiration?
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