How To Meal Plan
Meal Planning Ideas
Looking to learn how to meal plan?
Always on the hunt for simple and helpful meal planning ideas?
You’re in the right place.
How much do we stress about food?
What’s for dinner?
Knowing the answer to this question can take a lot of stress away.
Ever have a house full of food but nothing that anyone wants to eat?
Well, meal planning will change all that.
Learning how to meal plan is priceless.
Without a plan, there can be a lot of random stuff in your fridge and cabinets.
Sadly, a lot of this food will be thrown away. And eating out will become a regular thing.
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Learn How To Meal Plan With 7 Simple Meal Planning Tips
1) Get Organized
The first thing I want you to do is to clean out your cabinets and refrigerator. This may be the most important step when learning how to meal plan.
This is a great way to start fresh. And have a clean slate.
Such an important step in this process.
Before you plan meals, it is great to know what you have on hand. And also get rid of any expired items or leftovers hid at the back of the fridge! I have found some scary stuff back there.
Once everything is organized it is so much easier to glance through and see what you got going on.
2) Make A List of Family Favorites
What are a few things your family will always eat? I’m talking super simple go-to meals!
The goal is to get to a point to where you always have the staple items to make these meals. This will be such a life saver. Here are my quick and easy go-to meals. They are nothing fancy. But they get the job done. Especially when you are very close to giving in to that voice telling you to order a pizza and call it a day.
Write down a few ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks! Maybe even little desserts or treats. My husband has a sweet tooth(and so do I). Good to have a little treat on hand for a late night craving.
Keep things simple for breakfast. Lunch is pretty simple in my house too. Sandwiches or leftovers are good choices. My daughter has what we call a snack plate for lunch every day. It is just a fruit, a vegetable and some crackers and peanut butter or a sandwich.
Dinner will usually be the meal that takes the most planning. That is why having go-to meals is so perfect.
3) Choose New Meals
Here comes the fun part.
Do you enjoy looking for recipes? My daughter likes to look through cookbooks with me. We pick out a few meals to try. Does this mean she always eats them? Heck no. But life with kids. Do you know what I mean?
Make sure to ask the family what they want. Take turns choosing dinner.
This will hopefully keep complaining to a minimum. My husband happens to be the most opinionated person in my house when it comes to food. When he gives me an idea, it solves that complaining problem!
If you are brand spanking new to meal planning then keep this very simple at first. Do not pick out 5 brand new meals you want to try this week.
Maybe pick just one. And stick to what you know for the rest of the week.
Then the next week try 2 new recipes. You get the idea? Trying new things can be fun. But slow and steady is the way to go.
4) Make A List
Never go to the store without a list!
A list keeps you on track and helps you stay out of trouble.
Your list should have all the things you have planned for meals that week. Don’t go rogue and throw random things in the cart. These items may go to waste.
I write out my list. A written out list works best for me. Crossing things off is my jam!
You can use your phone if that’s more your style.
But start one category at a time. Breakfast. Look at the meals you chose for breakfast. Hopefully, you kept it pretty simple. Then you just write down what you need to make those meals.
Bagels, cereal, bread, yogurt, eggs, peanut butter, and fruit. This is usually what is under my breakfast category. Simple food that gets the job done.
Like I said earlier, lunch is usually leftovers. If there are no leftovers then sandwiches work great.
One area that I think gets forgotten about is snacks. Snacks are important! Having some solid options for that afternoon slump is crucial.
And this will help everyone from getting cranky waiting for dinner time. Kids act like the world is ending when hunger pains kick in.
An apple or cheese sticks are great options. My go-to snack is cottage cheese. I have been known to be crankier than a kid when I am hungry.
Now, the heavy hitter. Dinner.
5) Dinner Made Simple
Dinner time will be here before you know it. And all the hungry mouths will be on the prowl.
Here are some simple ideas you can do every week.
Pasta night. Taco night. Frozen night. Nothing wrong with a frozen pizza every now and then.
My mom did this when I was growing up. Every week we had a leftover night. And we got to choose from a few things that were in the fridge.
Breakfast for dinner. Easy and a favorite for my family.
Soup and sandwich night.
Grill night. When the weather allows, we love to cook up something on the grill. And maybe even eat outside. Changing things up is a necessity.
Make sure to save meals that were a big hit. This could be as simple as a screenshot of a recipe saved to your phone. Or go all out and make a recipe binder. This can take some time but it is so worth it. Stick with this and you will have a good amount of crowd-pleasing meals.
A wall calendar is great for writing what is for dinner each night. Then it is out there for everyone to see.
6) Take A Break
Do you ever need a break from being in the kitchen!? Of course, you do.
Plan a night to go out to dinner. Or have your favorite pizza delivered.
When most meals are eaten at home, it makes going out that much more special.
When I was younger, we ordered pizza on Friday nights. We all looked forward to this. It was something different. Even though it was something so simple it created special memories.
And you know what? You can take a break without ordering food or going out for dinner. Cereal is perfect for dinner on those especially rough days or long days.
You have to take a break every one in a while or burnout is inevitable!
7) Keep Track
How much you were spending on groceries before meal planning. And how much were you spending on eating out?
Do you know? Maybe you have an idea. But do you know exactly how much money was being spent on food every month?
How much are you spending on groceries now?
Look at the numbers and compare! You may be shocked.
This will keep you motivated. Saving money is one of the best motivators I know.
Meal planning takes effort and time. Falling off track can happen.
We are forming new habits, friends. Keep at it. And it will become easier and easier. One day, it will be second nature.
Like riding a bike.
Meal planning is not only great to save money but also to cut down on waste.
It’s such a shame how much food is thrown away.
The goal is to find a process that works for you. If it is not working you are not going to stick with it. And then it is back to square one.
There is no right way here. Well, there is a right way. Whatever way works for you and your family is the right way.
Got any awesome meal planning ideas?
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