Updated: Jan 14, 2021
In the last post we talked about the benefits of meal planning and now that you’re (hopefully) convinced that you want to make it a part of your weekly routine, let’s discuss how to do that!
Create a grocery budget, and figure out the allotted amount per week. (Click here for Frugal Tips for Healthy Eating.)
Set aside one hour every week to pick recipes and build your grocery list. The hour you spend doing this will be worth the stress and extra trips to the grocery store you save later.
Ask yourself "what do I already have in my freezer, fridge, and pantry that I could use?" and "what's on sale this week at the grocery store?"
Depending on your circumstances it might work to only plan your suppers but you may want to consider planning other meals as well (eg. what to pack in the kids’ lunches.)
You might want to include more structure as well. Some ideas include a meatless dinner once a week, soup once a week, salad once a week, BBQ once a week, or fish once a week. Personally, once a week I include a meatless dinner, and soup in the cold months or BBQ in the summer.
Find recipes you love or want to try that week and assign each to a day. Then go through the recipes and make your grocery list of items you will need. Of course you’ll still need to include your staple items for meals you didn’t plan like bread, peanut butter, eggs and milk for your breakfasts.
Keep a separate running list of recipes you know and love. Add to it as you discover new favourites. Click here to use my free Go-To Meals and Snacks Template
Go grocery shopping on the same day each week.
Take your calculator along to the grocery store, and keep a running tally as you shop. This step is optional, but for my fellow frugal nerds out there- you'll thank me. Something about consciously inputting the cost of each item has helped me stay below my budget.
If you have freezer space buy meat on sale that you can incorporate into your meal plan the following week. (If you're using the calculator method at the store, you can go buy meat, or other items that will last, if you have money left in the week's budget after getting everything on your list.)
Plan for leftovers! Cooking large batches means you might not have to cook every night.
Keep it simple. You may want to start with familiar recipes so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Eventually you’ll be ready to try new dishes that you can add to your repertoire.
Ask for your family’s input. Include their favourite recipes or ask for their suggestions.
You can use an excel sheet for planning your meals so that you can look back and see what you have made in past months. The method doesn’t matter though, use what works for you.
You may find it helpful to note where the recipe is found in case you forget.
You can find recipes on Pinterest, in recipe books, your favourite cooking blog and lots of other places! You can even make up your own.
Meal planning is a great way to help you stick to your healthy eating goals and I highly recommend it.
In fact, I'm so confident that it will benefit you, that I made you a meal planner template! If you're brand new to meal planning, just follow the steps on the second page. Click here to download your free meal planner!