Meal planning 101

Meal planning

I haven’t been able to make an unplanned, unlisted trip to the grocery store in approximately 500 years. Grocery shopping and meals are tediously planned out at my house.

Without a plan, we don’t eat.

But even without an entire army to feed, meal planning offers some major benefits.

1. You spend less at the grocery store because you go with a list.

2. You know what’s for dinner most nights of the week.

It takes a lot of stress out of dinner and/or lunch when you have a plan. It is hard enough to cook dinner with a toddler whining at your leg, let alone make any decisions as to what in the world to feed your little monster during the witching hour. If you have a plan and it is written down, you are set.

Meal planning can be overwhelming at first, but in the long run, it will save you some major headaches.

Here are my top tips for meal planning.

1. Make a list of all the meals you usually have and add to it when you discover a new recipe your family loves. That way, when you sit down to make your plan for the week, you have a master list to choose from. If you like printables, you can use this 21 Meal Ideas printable action sheet by Project Me for Busy Moms.

2. Don’t be afraid to try new recipes. Alter them to make them friendly for your family. For example: anything “green” either gets nixed or I if I add it to dinner, I allow certain children to pick “green things” out of their dinner.

3. Make your grocery list at the same time. This saves a lot of time and allows you to create a comprehensive grocery list instead of trying to remember what you need.

4. If you know one of your nights will be crazy, think ahead and plan a crock pot meal for that night. My Crock Pot is my best friend. There are some nights that I just don’t have time to cook and instead of fast food, I opt for my crock pot. You can check out a few family friendly recipes here.

5. Use Pinterest as your cookbook, but make sure to print off, or write down your favorites. The worst is when you are searching for a recipe and you can’t find it, or the link no longer works.

6. Don’t forget lunch! We moved to a much healthier way of eating lunch and I have discovered that when I have fruits and vegetables in the house, my kids will naturally include them in their lunch either at school or at home.

7. Don’t forget your list! I have started to use OneNote because it syncs to my phone, but it can be as simple as a note pad you keep in your purse. Another resource I have recently found online are printable action sheets by Project Me for Busy Moms. They have a Weekly Meal Planner that works great as well!

8. Post your Meal Plan somewhere visible in the kitchen! I use a chalkboard type sticker. It has lasted so well that I even moved it from one house to another!


9. Finally, make it a weekly habit. Plan a day, preferably the same day each week, and sit down to meal plan.

It may be a pain at the moment, but it is such a relief to know what is for dinner each night without stressing about it.

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  1. This is such a great idea and even great without children. It takes all the stress out of dinner if it’s planned ahead.

  2. So happy you’re using and liking our Meal Planning Action Sheets Stacey – and thanks for the links back to Project Me :) It took me years to get my head around Meal Planning and figure out that the time invested in doing it each and every week SAVES me time, stress and money. Now I see it as an absolute no-brainer!
    Kelly Pietrangeli┬┤s last blog post ..Seasonal Sanity Savers for Busy Mothers

  3. Great tips! I really need to get back to cooking again– have been such a lazy cook lately.
    Emmy┬┤s last blog post ..Review Extravaganza 2013: Week 1

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