Meal Planning Made Easy

Last Updated on December 23, 2023 by Ellen Christian

Are you looking for meal planning made easy? Look no further! I try very hard to stay organized in both my work and home life.  This is how!

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two dinner plates with food

Meal Planning Made Easy

I wear a lot of hats and juggle a lot of responsibilities.  At the end of the day, I have been finding myself staring at an open freezer wondering what I’m going to make for dinner.

Sometimes I make a meal plan and just forget to look at it. Sometimes I forget to make it. And, sometimes I make it and don’t stick to it.

It’s obvious that my current method is just not working. Since I eat Paleo and my husband does not, it takes planning to make sure that we eat healthy meals.

I needed to find a way to meal plan that was easy to use and that I would remember to check frequently.  It’s important that I have the ingredients on hand to make the meals I plan for and then actually defrost what I am going to cook with. I have come up with this plan that seems to be working for me so check out the steps of meal planning below.

family shopping for groceries

Benefits of planning your meals

Planning your meals ahead of time can be a great strategy to maintain a balanced diet. It helps in making healthier food choices, as you can ensure a variety of nutrients in your meals. Moreover, it reduces the chances of resorting to unhealthy, last-minute food choices when you are in a rush or too tired to cook.

Besides nutritional benefits, meal planning can also help save time and money. By knowing exactly what you need to purchase from the grocery store, you can avoid impulsive buying, ultimately saving your money. And by preparing meals in advance, you can save time on busy days and have meals ready when you need them.

Create a meal planning day

Pick one day a week to create your meal plan. I typically do this the day before I grocery shop so I can create my grocery list while I create my meal plan. This is also a great time to check out the grocery store flyers and your coupons to decide what you’ll serve based on sales.

This meal planning book has lots of room and helps you stay organized.

3 Yogurt Parfait Recipes Using Cereal for Breakfast

How many meals should I plan for?

Decide if you will do all three meals or just dinners. When our kids were younger, they typically ate breakfast and lunch at school or on the way to school so we did not plan for those meals.

If you’re feeding people at home three meals a day, you may want to plan for all three meals. These overnight oats are a huge hit for breakfast at my house.

Remember, you need to include the entre, vegetable, and side dish. If you usually make desserts, be sure to plan for those as well.

Family favorite meal plan recipes

Plan meals that everyone in your family likes. It won’t do you any good to plan on cooking kale if no one in your family will eat it. I’m not saying that you should never introduce new foods to your family.

But try to balance family favorites like homemade pizza with foods they may not be as fond of. Make sure that you create meals to use up leftovers and garden excess to avoid food waste.

woman looking at cookbook

Organize your recipes

Print out new recipes you want to try. I always think I will remember where I found the recipe but I don’t. Place those recipes with your meal list so they are handy.

Double-check that you have all of the ingredients and utensils you need for each recipe. Remember to incorporate your Instant Pot or Slow Cooker on nights when you know you’ll be busy.

This Ratatouille Vegetable Stew in the slow cooker is one of my favorites.

Shop seasonally

Look at what’s in season. We try to eat vegetables and fruits that are in season. It’s better for us and the environment.  Figure out what’s in season in your area and plan your meals around those ingredients.

These Seafood-Stuffed Tomatoes are amazing in the summer when you have excess tomatoes.

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Tips to create your shopping list

Take a look at things like leftovers, sales prices, coupons, seasonal sales, and garden produce available to you. Put the ingredients you still need on your shopping list.

Place the shopping list near the meal plan so you can add to it as you find things you are out of. Remember to add in beverages and snacks.

a frozen food aisle

Location, Location

Place the meal plan, shopping list, and coupons where you will see them.  I have them on my refrigerator. Every morning when I get my breakfast, I see it and it visually reminds me to check it and defrost something for dinner.

Once you get into a routine of planning the week’s menus, it will be much easier to stay on top of. Do you think you’ll try meal planning made easy? Check out my tips for choosing a healthy meal plan subscription service.

6 thoughts on “Meal Planning Made Easy”

  1. I don’t do none of those things listed, but it does sound like a great idea! This is definitely something I need to start doing. I don’t know it makes a difference if you have picky eaters. 
  2. Couldn't agree more with shopping in season and on sale. I love most all veggies so any extras or leftovers go into smoothies and soup, like the split green pea soup planned for this weekend. I clip or use only a few coupons but do love the digital ones that are so convenient (Ralph's/Kroger's and Von's here in California). I don't have a ton of space for storage but do stock up on non-perishables with the sales, especially the store brand sales. I'm a cabbage lover so always love it when St Patty's Day rolls around!
  3. I do a lot of these tips except for shop seasonally. I need to start doing that since things that are out of season are quite expensive than usual.

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