10 Meal Planning Tips
We’re going to dive right into Meal Planning Like a Pro with these 10 Planning Tips. Don’t forget to grab the 10 Meal Planning Tips infographic at the bottom of the post. Post this on your fridge and use it as a guide throughout your week. Go back and check out our other planning posts here: part one and two. You want to check those out so you’ve got a foundation on why planning matters.
Print one of these meal planning templates so you’re ready to meal plan once you’ve finished the post.
Okay, let’s get planning.
1. Start Small – If you’ve never meal planned before don’t jump off the high dive. Start in the kiddie pool and plan 2 or 3 meals for the week. Once you’re comfortable with that, plan all your dinner meals for the next week. Good with that? Add breakfasts and lunches. Gradually, one step at a time, is the best way to start meal planning.
2. Write Down and Schedule Your Meals – You can use a piece of paper, your Google calendar, or one of the meal planning sheets above. But you’ve gotta write your meal plan down. This helps you remember what you’ve planned and holds you accountable to your plan.
3. Get Your Family Involved – Unless you live alone, everyone in the house should be helping with meals. From thinking about what to eat, grocery shopping, meal prep and cooking, everyone should have a job. Even toddlers can help put veggies and fruit into bags for lunches, stir things, dump ingredients in, or wash veggies and fruit.
4. Save Recipes Somewhere – Whether you use cookbooks, magazines, blogs you follow, or Pinterest, you’ve gotta have a place where recipes you’ve tried and liked or wanna try can go. This makes the scheduling of meals so much easier.
5. Pick a Theme – Give each day of the week a theme like Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesday, Pasta Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Fridge Clean Friday, Salad Bar Saturday, Soup(er) Sunday. This keeps you from brain fatigue when you’re planning your meals. If you keep recipes on Pinterest you can save recipes into folders based on each of your themes.
6. Make a Grocery List – Use an app on your phone that you can share with others in the house. That way you’re not the only one who has to shop (hello delegation) and anyone at the store can glance at the list, grab what’s on it, and surprise you when they get home. Win! You can also use one of the 7 day planners we’ve got on this post here.
7. Plan for Nextovers – I learned about nextovers from a great cookbook Cook90 . Nextovers mean you think about your next meals and use batch cooking to always have something ready to be turned into part of tomorrow’s meals. If you roast sweet potatoes for tonight’s dinner, you might cube them for hash tomorrow, or put them in the blender with broth and make soup.
8. Cook Once, Eat Twice (or more) – Double or triple recipes so you’ve got a day or two of lunch leftovers. You can even batch cook and then freeze individual portions for nights things go a little awry.
9. Meal Prep – Schedule time on your day off to get as much prep work done as possible. Cut up sturdier vegetables, wash greens and store, along with a paper towel, in resealable bags (I like these), and anything else that can be done in advance.
10. Keep Your Pantry Stocked – This might seem silly but a well stocked pantry can be a lifesaver when you’ve got a busy week. Having some brown rice or bean pasta in the pantry and frozen veggies in the freezer can mean an almost instant healthy meal. Canned beans are a great protein source that can be tossed with a bagged salad mix and canned soup…requires no work at all. Aside from that you want to make sure you’ve got basics on hand like broth, herbs and spices, and olive or avocado oil.
We’d love to hear how your meal planning goes or if you’ve got any meal planning tips you use. Drop us a note in the comments below or send us a message here.
If you’re in the Tacoma area Sarah found a great resource developed by Pierce County. Maybe they’ll mail it to you regardless of where you live. Anywho – they’ve got a meal plan notpad you can order here.