Taking ten minutes to meal plan on Sunday will save you time and money, reduce stress, and help you make healthier choices throughout the week!
I used to think meal planning was just for those ultra-organized wives and mamas who have things like binders and printables and a “command center” (If you’re one of those women, you are awesome. Can I be like you someday?)
Meal planning can seem overwhelming at first. You want me to plan out each meal of the day that I’m going to eat? What if I don’t feel like eating that on that day? I don’t even know what I’m doing in three hours!
I feel you.
But I want to show you how meal planning can make your life SO much easier.
- Meal planning saves you time
- …saves you money
- …reduces stress (yup)
- …helps you eat healthier (no last minute take-out!)
You don’t have to spend an hour trying to plan it all out. I want you to find a system that works for you, and stick with that.
A good rule of thumb to show yourself some grace is to write down your dinners but be flexible about when they’re cooked. This way, you don’t feel “locked in” and you can go with what you feel like having that day. As long as you have all the ingredients on hand, you won’t be ordering take-out! You will love coming home already knowing what needs to be done and how long it will take you.
This means more time with your kiddos, more snuggles with your husband or more loving on your dog. Don’t we all want more of that?
Today I’m sharing a step-by-step plan to planning your meals for the week in under 10 minutes!
Step 1: Check Out What You Have
On Sunday, take inventory of your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Write down ingredients you have and ingredients you need to use. This shapes what you may cook during the week AND saves you money by using ingredients you already have.
Example: In the pantry, say you have brown rice, in the freezer you have chicken breasts and shrimp, and in the fridge you have half a bell pepper, half an onion, and some asparagus. You could make a stir-fry one night with shrimp, bell pepper, onion and brown rice. Another night, you could make baked chicken with the asparagus and brown rice on the side. Two meals taken care of just by looking at what you already have. It’s just that simple!
Action Step #1: Go through pantry, fridge and freezer and jot down what you have and what needs to be used.
Step 2: Skim The Grocery Store Ads
Your next move is to skim the grocery store ad and see what’s on sale. Buying what’s on sale and what’s in season are great ways to reduce your grocery bill! Most grocery stores have their weekly ad online, so it’s easy to find. This is the second thing that can influence your menu for the week, and it takes less than a minute!
Example: You see ground turkey on sale. Awesome, you can make a Bolognese sauce or meatloaf. What other ingredients do you already have that may help you make one of those two meals? A jar of tomato sauce in the pantry? Perfect. Bolognese sauce it is.
Action Step #2: Skim the grocery store ad and write down some ingredients you want to use that are on sale.
Step 3: Write Out Your Meals
Using a notebook, meal-planning note pad, or excel sheet, map out your week and which days you’ll be cooking at home. You may write down a certain meal for a certain day at first, but my biggest piece of advice is BE FLEXIBLE. It doesn’t have to be a strict schedule! Life happens, and you have to roll with it😉
After that, fill in your meals! Use Pinterest to get some ideas, or skim through cookbooks. After a while, you’ll have your usual meals that you rotate.
If you’re looking for some breakfast ideas, check out these four simple breakfasts you can meal prep. They’re my go-to’s!
Make a list of the other ingredients you’ll need before you head to the store. Very important: stick to your list. It’s ok to make a swap for a veggie if they’re out, but don’t add extra things to your cart. By doing so, you’re going to use the money you were saving by doing this whole planning thing in the first place. Since nobody’s perfect, I try to limit my cart to 1-2 items that weren’t on my list😉
Action Step #3: Write out your meals for each night, including sides.
Next, go grocery shopping!
Are you on a roll with making your lifestyle healthier? Read these 10 Things You Can Do Right Now To Be Healthier! Meal planning is one of them!
What are your secrets for successful meal planning? Share them below!