With a busy lifestyle, meal planning can be the saving grace to ensure your family eats healthfully. Taking a few minutes every week to make one takes the guesswork out of what to prepare every time it’s time to eat! Here are my top five tips to successful meal planning:
- Take stock of what you already have. Look over the pantry, fridge, & freezer to re-familiarize yourself with what’s on hand. Write a few items down that you know you’ll want to get used up so that they get worked into the plan. I use this opportunity to do a quick clean of these places to get tidied up for the week ahead.
- Do it your way. Depending on your personality, meal planning may come relatively easy to you or, on the other hand, you may find it’s a struggle to plan so much in advance. If the first scenario is you, then you can dive into planning it all: breakfast, lunch, dinner, even snacks. If that seems completely overwhelming, then perhaps simply start your meal planning journey with dinner. Another point to consider is that no one ever said you have to plan the whole week out at once. Maybe you would rather do your meal plan in a couple of stints each week, only thinking about 2-3 days at a time.
- Make it fun. To me, this is key. If meal planning becomes just another dreaded task, then it can be easy to put it off & not do it at all. So make a little ritual out of it! Get yourself a cute meal planning notepad, like the one pictured from 1canoe2, or a super functional spiral notebook like the one I have above from Kahootie & Co. Other options include a weekly marker board or notepad (Target dollar spot is great for these), a printable template from the internet, excel, or of course, plain ol’ paper if that suites you. Find a comfy spot to sit, grab your go-to recipes, a cookbook or two, & maybe some saved blog recipes. Make yourself a cozy beverage to sip on & have fun with it.
- Recognize your family’s eating patterns & plan accordingly. If you make your favorite stir-fry for dinner on Tuesday, how much does it make? Will there be leftovers to use for lunch the next day? If not, perhaps consider doubling the recipe to ensure there are leftovers. Leftovers are your meal planning bestie! I use them all the time for lunches or even another dinner later on. Cook once, eat twice – my kitchen mantra. Healthy eating is made more approachable when you maximize your efficiency in the kitchen. Once you get the hang of how much your family eats, you’ll be able to incorporate any leftovers into your meal plan, ensuring all that delicious, healthy food you’re whipping up gets eaten.
- Leave a little wiggle room. Life happens! I usually keep a meal or two open for unexpected outings or other changes to our schedule we can’t anticipate ahead of time.
My goal here is to be helpful, perhaps a little inspiring, but also concise, because let’s face it – none of us have a surplus of time to read a bunch of superfulous musings. If there’s something I haven’t covered or a specific question you have, please leave a comment here or on my meal planning Instagram post!