Today we’re talking all about how to meal plan! I am going to teach you my easy 7 step meal planning strategy. Last week I shared my 4 healthy eating strategies for families to take the stress out of healthy eating. The last tip in that post was to meal plan and today I want to share my secrets with you!
Okay, they are probably not secrets. These steps just make sense. Using these different steps makes meal planning easier, and more streamlined. I want to make this easier for you, friend! So let’s get started!
How to meal plan (7 easy steps)
Step 1 – Decide how much you want to cook
If you’re looking at your week, how many dinners do you want to cook a week? Cooking just takes more time than picking up take out, or eating at a restaurant.
Think to yourself, how many times a week do I want to cook? Am I cooking every single night? Just 3 days? Or5 days? This is totally up to you and what works in your family.
Step 2 – Look at what you already have on hand
Open up your fridge, pantry and freezer and see what you already have on hand. Do you have a pantry full of food just waiting to be used? Or a freezer full of salmon or chicken? And your fridge is overflowing with kale? What is already on hand that you need to use?
Do a quick check in the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what ingredients are in your kitchen. That way when you go to meal plan, you already know what foods are on hand that you want to use. Those ingredients won’t get wasted and you’ll save more money at the grocery store. WIN!
Step 3 – Look at your calendar
Think about what your life looks like. Do you have kid sports one evening? Do you work late another evening? Do you just know that on Thursday night you’re tired and you just don’t want to cook?
I want you to look at your schedule and then think about how much time you have. If you’re planning to cook Monday-Friday, do you have 30 minutes on Monday, 30 minutes on Tuesday and then on Wednesday you have like 5 minutes and you need something right away?
Maybe when you’re planning you can add in a crockpot meal, or double Monday’s meal so that you have leftovers for Wednesday. Write out how much time you have or how much time you want to spend on cooking. When you go to plan your meals, you can fit them in where they will work.
Step 4 – Pick your protein
We know how many meals we want to cook, how much time we want to spend and we also know some of the ingredients we want in the week.
When I go to meal plan, I love to start by thinking about the protein I am using. This is especially true if I already have extra protein in the freezer. Protein is just more expensive compared to bulk pantry items. So I like to plan it first.
Pick the protein that you want to have for each of the meals. For example, maybe that means on Monday you’re having ground beef, on Tuesday you’re having chicken, on Wednesday you’re having beans, on Thursday you’re having chicken and then on Friday you’re having Italian sausage pizza with kale (yum).
Step 5 – Fill in using themes
This next step is kind of optional. If you like to have themes during your week then plug them in! We always have some type of Mexican dish on Tuesdays. Mondays are often a pasta meal because it’s comforting and I’m often more tired. We always do Friday night pizza night and lately we’ve been doing slider Sundays.
If themes feel fun to you, then add them in.
Step 6 – Pick your meals
Now we pick the meals for each night. What the heck are you actually going to eat?
Does the recipe fit a theme if you’re using one? Does it use the protein you want to use? Does it fit your time requirement? We plug our meals in a planner, but a piece of paper, your phone or computer work great. It’s important to write your menu down because often we think we might remember on a Sunday, but then by Thursday, we forget.
Step 7 – Make a grocery list
This is the final step to make sure we get our groceries! We have our meals, our recipes and now we need to write down the groceries on a piece of paper if you’re taking it to the grocery store, or fill out an online order. This step is so important to make sure we have the ingredients we need to then make our meals!
If you’re still not sure that meal planning is for you, then get excited for what’s coming next!
I’ll be answering the question “should you meal plan?” I’ll be sharing how it’s been helpful in my life, and give you some questions to think about.
Looking for more meal planning resources? Check out these posts:
- 4 healthy eating strategies for families
- Should you meal plan? (here’s how it’s been helpful for me)
- Steal my meal planning secret weapon
How to meal plan video
Prefer to watch + listen? Head to YouTube to watch my how to meal plan video!
I’d love to know, do you meal plan? Were these steps helpful? Leave a comment below and let’s chat about it!