When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. But by taking the time to come with a weekly meal plan that works for you, you’re setting yourself up for success.
I get it. Life moves fast. And between work and family and relationships and everything else you have going on, getting a home-cooked dinner on the table sometimes falls by the wayside.
You may think you don’t have time to cook or that healthy eating takes a lot of effort, but the truth is all it takes is a little planning. Here is the process you should take to plan out your meals every week:
1. Map out your week
Start by assessing the week ahead. What appointments or plans do you have? How much time will you have each day to prepare meals? How many people are you cooking for?
For days you don’t have a ton of time, think about using your slow cooker or plan to make a big batch of one meal in advance. The idea is to cook and prepare your meals when you’re not busy, so then when you are busy, all you have to do is reheat and serve.
If you’re just cooking for yourself, meal planning is pretty simple. But add in your spouse or kids and it can get complicated. Make sure you take into account who will be eating what you make, when and how much. And if you’re family isn’t on the same healthy eating kick as you, consider planning to make a separate meal for yourself so everyone will be happy.
Once you have a sense of how many meals you’ll need to prepare and the amount of time you’ll have to do it, you can begin creating your meal plan.
2. Find recipes to make
If you struggle to come with new meal ideas, the internet is your best friend. Check out Pinterest or your favorite blogs to find inspiration. Skinnytaste, Emily Bites and Daily Dose of Pepper are some of my favorites for finding healthy, delicious meals.
Start making a list of standby recipes. What meals do you already make that you know are hits? Keep the list going and add to it as you find new recipes. When you’re stuck, the list will come in handy and help you figure out the perfect meals to make for that week.
3. Consult your fridge
Another way to come up with meal ideas is to take a look at what you already have in your fridge and pantry. See what ingredients you already have on hand and think about what you can make with them before you start branching out into a new recipe that may or may not require buying a ton of ingredients.
Using what you have will also help you save money on your weekly grocery bill. This is definitely a big help if you’re trying to stick to a budget.
4. Decide on your meals
You should plan for at least a week’s worth of meals. Choose a day when you can sit down and list out everything you will eat in the upcoming week.
Write all of you meals down in a list, type them up or plug them into some kind of template or calendar. Whatever works best for you! Just make sure you account for all of your breakfasts, lunches, dinners – and don’t forget about snacks!
Start by deciding on the dinners you will make and eat each day. That way, you can work around those meals to balance out the rest of your day. If you’re eating a higher-calorie dinner one day, then you’ll want to eat a lighter breakfast or lunch.
Once you’ve filled in all of your meals, hang the sheet up somewhere you’ll see it. Or, keep it on your phone so that it’s always easily accessible.
5. Make your grocery list
With all of your meals planned out, you can now go grocery shopping. When making your list, don’t forget to check what ingredients you already have to avoid buying duplicates.
Besides knowing what to buy, you need to know how much. This is where knowing who you’re cooking for comes in. Estimate everyone’s portions and add it all up to see how much of each ingredient you’ll need to buy.
Then, run to the store and stock up! You’re ready for a great week!
What are your top tips for meal planning? Leave them in the comments below!