Have you ever wondered How to Make a Meal Plan. Do you think making a meal plan would take a lot of time? That it will be difficult? If that’s what you think, then I have good news. Meal Planning is simple.
I write about things that simplify your life, so I wouldn’t write about something that was difficult to do.
Follow the steps below and you’ll be an expert at Meal Planning in no time. This is my favorite Meal Planning book.
Before we get started making the Meal Plan, let’s talk about why it is worth the effort.
3 great reasons to learn How to Make a Meal Plan:
- You’ll save money on groceries
Truth be told, many of us throw out way too much food. I know, I know, you don’t plan to waste it. You spent your hard-earned dollars buying that food. You don’t want to throw it away, but daily life happens and we all do it. Way too often, we end up throwing food out.
When you master How to Make a Meal Plan, you’ll find that you will throw out a lot less food. You can find tips for saving money at the grocery store and for using the food you buy (or already have on hand) in these articles.
- It makes mealtime so much easier
Most of us have 3 meals a day, plus 2 snacks. That adds up to 21 meals a week plus 14 snacks. For one person that’s quite a bit of food. For 2 it doubles, and for a family, well, that adds up to a lot of food. Typically, families are thinking about one or two meals ahead. Moms and/or Dads are always dealing with the “what’s for dinner?” question.
When you are meal planning, it all gets so much easier to manage. You’ll know well in advance what you’ll be serving for meals. If you wish, you can make your Meal Plan accessible to all of your family and they’ll know “what’s for dinner” without even asking you.
- You will eat healthier
There is so much fast food and processed foods readily available to us. It is difficult to not fall into the trap of grabbing some of those foods often. That will happen a lot less when you Meal Plan. You’ll already be prepared for a meal, so you won’t feel a need to stop and pick it up. Unless, of course, that was your Meal Plan for the day.
Yes, it is perfectly okay to plan to eat out. You’ll likely find yourself not doing it quite so often when you learn how to meal plan. The result will likely be that you will be serving healthier meals.
Simplify your Life with Meal Planning
Imagine how simpler life could be if you knew on Saturday what you are preparing for meals for all of next week. It will simplify your life. Give it a try and see for yourself.
Steps for How to Make a Meal Plan
Step 1: Make a Meal Plan Chart
Make a simple Meal Plan Chart on a sheet of paper with 7 sections, 1 for each day of the week. Have room for 5 rows in each section. You want to be able to add a breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner row in each section.
This Meal Planner is a simple one that I really like. It’s nice to look at and it is simple to use – plus it fits into my budget.
Step 2: Make these Two Lists
- Make a List of your Family’s Favorite foods.
- Make a list of the foods you and your family like to eat a lot. They aren’t on the favorite list, but your family likes them.
Now, using your two lists, begin to fill in the meals on your chart.
Additional Considerations for Meal Planning.
Consider Your Family’s Health
- Does a family member need to stick to a gluten-free or dairy-free diet?
- Is a family member trying to lose weight and prefers lower fat foods or less carbs?
Consider Your Family’s Schedule
- Will you have time to cook and enjoy a leisurely dinner any nights?
- Will you be running to school or rec events and only have a short time for meals?
Consider the Time you Have for Preparing Meals
- Do you have 1 hour to spend fixing a meal or do you only have 30 minutes or less?
- Can you put a meal in a Crock Pot or InstaPot and let it cook while you do other things?
Each family is different and meal time looks different for everyone. There may be other things that you need to consider for your family’s meals. Keep all those considerations in mind so that you can create a Meal Plan that will work for you and your family.
Step 3: Meal Plan “Shopping” at Home
You now have a starting point, so let’s begin shopping. First you can “shop” your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. What do you already have on hand that you could make a meal from? Do you have meat or vegetables in the freezer? Do you have canned goods that you can use in a meal? Do you have produce for a salad or fruit for a snack?
I’m sure you get the idea. Do some brainstorming on the meals you can fix from what you already have. Add some of these to your Meal Plan chart.
You will be surprised about what you can create from what you already have on hand. You may have the necessary ingredients for some of the foods you’ve already added to your list. If, during your review, you find some foods that are near their expiration dates, be sure to try to add those to an upcoming meal, so that you can use them before that date. You don’t want to have to throw them out.
Step 4: Make an Inventory
Make a written inventory or a digital one if you prefer. This step is optional. It will save you time for future meal planning, but it’s not essential for making a Meal Plan. You can create two inventory sheets:
- Pantry Goods
- Foods in the Freezer
I like to keep an inventory of our freezer foods as things seem to get lost in there. However, I don’t keep a list of the pantry items because they are easier to see and tend to be used up more quickly. You can do one of these inventory lists, both of them, or neither.
When you are first starting out making all these lists might be overwhelming. If they are, then skip this “make an inventory” step – it is not a must.
Some people will want to make those lists when they are beginning. If that’s you – by all means make those inventory lists. They can be helpful and save you a little work the next week. If that’s not you, don’t make the inventory lists – that’s okay too.
Step 5: Meal Plan Shopping
Now you are ready to “shop” the Sales Ads for your Local Grocery Stores
There may be items on sale that give you an idea of another meal or snack that you would like to add to your chart. It’s perfectly fine (in fact, many people do this purposely) to decide on your meals based on what’s on sale that week. If your grocery budget allows, you may even be able to stock up on something that you can freeze that you will want to use the next week.
Take advantage of sales, but use them to your advantage.
Step 6: Complete your Menu Plan
Fill in any remaining meals or snacks on your Menu Plan Chart for the week based on what you found at home and what you know is on sale.
You are now ready for the next step . It may take a couple of weeks to master the Meal Planning, but you’ll be able to do it in no time.
Step 7: Create a Shopping List
Create a Shopping list based on your Menu Plan Chart for the week.
You won’t need to purchase the items you already have on hand. You’ll know which store or stores has the other foods and ingredients that you will need for the week
Step 8: Go Shopping
When you go shopping, it is important for you stick to your Shopping List. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself falling back into the old routine and having too much food, or foods you don’t have time to cook. That is also likely to mean that you’ll have more food than you need and you’ll end up throwing some of it out.
How to Make a Meal Plan and Stick to It
If you have a meal plan, you’ll have a plan to use everything you buy. You’ll no longer be making those impulse buys or getting foods that you think you might use, but you end up tossing out.
When you have a specific meal plan you will find that you are saving money every single week.
Try it this week – Make your own Meal Plan
Won’t you give Meal Planning a try for just 2 weeks? After that, you may find that you can repeat many of those meals over the next two weeks. In other words, meal planning gets easier after you’ve done it a few times.
You can reap the benefits. Meal Planning will save you time. It will reduce your pre-meal time stress. It will simplify your life.
I’d love to hear your Meal Planning success stories, so please share them in the comments below.
Some Recipes you might like to try:
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