Simple Meal Planning Tips

Grocery list on notepad on top of keyboard

Never stress over what’s for dinner again!

It’s been a long, exhausting day. No time for lunch. No time to think about anything beyond the next 5 minutes. Before you know, it’s 5:00 and the dreaded daily question pops up …

What’s for dinner?

Ugh! Can you relate?

Deciding what to eat every single day can be overwhelming and frustrating. Not to mention just plain boring.

The simple solution: Meal planning!

Meal Planning will Save you Time (and Money) in the End

Planning out meals does not need to be elaborate or complicated. You have to eat and shop anyway – so, rather than flying by the seat of your pants, gazing blankly into the refrigerator every night and then resorting to takeout meals, simply take some time once a week to plan (and shop) in advance.

I get it. You’re busy and meal planning may sounds like the last thing you have time for. But just imagine the time (and money) saved by no more daily trips to the store. No more binging on fast food or eating out. Isn’t that worth a few minutes of planning each week?

How to Make a Weekly Meal Plan

Check your calendar

Before planning a menu, it’s a good idea to first know what the week ahead looks like:

  • How much time and energy will you have to put toward preparing meals?
  • Who will be home and eating each day?
  • Any holidays or special events (birthdays, etc.) to plan for?
  • Any company coming?

Make a menu

To keep this simple and stress-free, I recommend simply planning out dinners and special events. Tip: Leftovers rock for lunch (and even breakfast at my house)!

  • Start with what’s familiar. Include several favorite go-to meals you turn to when hungry, tired and out of time (and no, I don’t mean takeout or delivery!).
  • Check the fridge and pantry to see what ingredients need to be used. Plan a meal around that.
  • If it’s a super-busy week, plan a crock-pot meal or something that creates leftovers.
  • Have some fun and try something new, but don’t go crazy – 1 new ‘experiment’ a week should be easy to handle.
  • Consider a theme night. We make flat breads on Friday nights. It’s fun and no thinking’s required at the end of the week. A win-win.
  • Be sure to build in a lazy, “don’t know what I was thinking, don’t want to make that other stuff” meal. That day is guaranteed to show up!

Create a shopping list

Make a list – as in write it down. Relying on memory is not the best idea. Trust me. The idea here is to eliminate multiple trips to the store – even that quick stop off on the way home for just one more thing.

  • Go back over your menu and any recipes, and make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need.
  • Be sure to check the fridge and pantry and cross off what you already own.
  • Add to the list any essential staples that need restocking.

More tips on keeping a list

Shop smart

Now that you’ve planned your meals and have a list there are still a few ways you can simplify this whole process:

  • Find a grocery store that takes online orders for pickup or delivery.
  • If you’re shopping in person, write out your list by category. This saves a huge amount of time.
  • Buy in bulk if you can (and have the room). This will usually save money plus cut down on how often you need to shop.

Bonus tips

  • Create a personal recipe book of favorite meals. I simply use a 3-ring binder with sleeve protectors and slip in favorite recipes by category. This will make future meal planning super simple.
  • Double a recipe whenever possible and freeze the 2nd batch for an instant meal on a day that didn’t go as planned.

Last step: Pick a day of the week for meal planning, put it on your calendar and give it a try. Remember to keep it simple – perhaps only a few days’ worth to start. You just may begin to look forward to what’s for dinner!

Happy Organizing,

Kim Cossette Organizer

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