Updated: Feb 14, 2019
What is meal planning?
Meal planning is whatever way you organize yourself to cook a meal, whether that's breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is the plan you make before you shop. It doesn’t need to be difficult or perfect, and can be broken down into 3 simple steps:
Shopping for ingredients
Preparing those ingredients
Meal planning is a personal thing. What works for you may not work for someone else. The ultimate goal is to find a process that is both enjoyable and effective, and to create a nourishing and enjoyable meal.
Here are some reasons you should consider meal planning:
Saves Money - Your list helps avoid impulse purchases, you can create meals around what’s on sale, you’re less likely to order take-out
Saves Time - Spend less time at the store with a list, less shopping trips, less time staring at the fridge wondering what to make
Helps You Eat Healthier - Planning ahead means less take-out and processed food
Helps Reduce Food Waste - Checking what you have before you go eliminates buying duplicate items, and planning for leftovers means less food rotting in the back of the fridge
Helps Reduce Your Stress - Your meals are planned and components are prepped! Plus, you’re saving money.
For most people meal planning is NOT preparing 5 complete dishes on Sunday to have for the week.
Sunday is a great time to take 1-2 hours and prep components of meals. Cook any grains you may need, make the sauce for a recipe, cut vegetables for snacking during the week and roast any veggies you may need to save time later in the week.
Buy pre-cut veggies to save even more time. While I suggest buying whole produce and preparing it yourself, don’t let chopping be the reason you don’t meal plan.
When it comes to re-heating, steaming or a toaster oven are great, quick options. Most things can also be eaten cold! ie cold sweet potato chunks in a salad.
Meal Planning Tips:
Check your fridge and pantry to see what you already have and can create meals around
Allow time to look for recipes - choose recipes you already know and at least one new recipe, and try to choose recipes that have ingredients in common
Create a place to save recipes - jot down notes for future use - We love Google Docs for this because they can be shared with anyone and accessed from anywhere!
Cook based on the current weather - think comforting soups in winter and fresh, crisp salads in summer
Check what’s on sale and create recipes around those items
Plan for leftovers so you’re not making a new meal every time you eat
After creating your grocery list double check your pantry/fridge for things you may already have.
Prep components - Use them to make a complete meal the day you want it. You can even prep double batches and freeze some!
No wasted food - Don’t let things get lost in the fridge or freezer
Repurpose your leftovers - Turn that stir fry into a taco or a pasta dish, or that leftover pasta sauce into a pizza sauce
I hope you've found some of these tips helpful! As you can see, meal planning does not have to be difficult and anyone can do it!
Have some other great meal planning tips that I missed? Let me know below in the comments.
Don't forget to print your free weekly meal planner!
You can find some of my favorite meal prepping and kitchen tools here
Visit my Meal Planning board on Pinterest
A good website to determine how long a food is good for: www.eatbydate.com
A good website for how to store food properly: https://www.savethefood.com/storage
How to store herbs: https://www.thekitchn.com/tips-three-ways-to-preserve-fr-88889