Meal planning is my favourite way to save time and stay organized in the kitchen so I’m super excited to share my EASY 10 Step Checklist with you so you too can save time, stay organized and reduce your stress when it comes to getting a healthy dinner on the table each and every week. This is exactly how I meal plan for the week!
HOW TO MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK IN 10 EASY STEPS
1. Decide which day you will sit down to make your meal plan. (Plan to make a plan!)
Some things to consider when planning to make your plan:
- Do you have time meal plan each week? Or should you make 2 or 3 or 4 weeks of meal plans at a time?
- What day will you go grocery shopping?
2. Start with a blank weekly menu template.
This is an example of the one I use.
3. For the coming week, check your calendar.
- Decide which nights you’ll need a quick easy meal, which nights you ’ll have more time to prepare dinner, which nights you’ll want to heat up leftovers and which nights you won’t need to prepare dinner at all. Make notes of your activities and schedule on your meal plan template for the week.
- It’s also a good idea to note if you’ll have extra people around your dinner table any night of the week (like, if you invited friends over for dinner and you’ll need to make more than you normally do or if someone has a commitment that night and won’t be having dinner and you’ll be able to make less).
4. Budget Saving Step
Take a look at the sales and flyers for your favourite grocery stores. Make a list of the ingredients that are on sale that you would want to eat in the coming week.
5. Pick out 4-7 recipes you what to eat in the coming week for dinner.
When choosing recipes for the week, some things to consider are:
- Do you use a lot of the ingredients that are on sale? If not, are you able to select recipes or meal ideas that incorporate more of the sale items?
- Try and pick recipes with similar ingredients to cut down the cost and to cut down on food waste
If you haven’t done so already, make a list your favourite recipes and meals to eat. Keep this list nearby so you can refer to it each week to make deciding what to eat all week easier.
- What does your family go crazy for?
- What are you craving?
- What types of recipes do you get excited to make and eat?
- Do you notice any themes (ie. you love Mexican flavours? You love chicken?) and can you really embrace these themes (ie. a whole week of Mexican!) or would implementing a Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Sandwich Wednesday, etc, etc, etc, be more your style?
Are you just planning out dinners? What will you eat for breakfast, lunch and snacks?
6. Start your menu planning. Write out what you will eat each day on the weekly menu template.
Some things to consider….
- Will there be leftovers?
- Keep your schedule in mind when decided which recipes or meal ideas to make each day. (ie. Don’t plan a 3-course dinner when you only have 20 minutes to eat before your evening yoga class.)
- If you are only planning to grocery shop once, eat items that tend to spoil more quickly at the beginning of the week and ones that have a longer shelf life at the end of the week.
7. When your weekly menu plan is finished, go back through all the recipes and meal ideas you’ve noted and make a list of ingredients you need to purchase.
- Double check your pantry and fridge you ensure you have the spices and staples needed
- Organize your Ingredients List into the different sections of the grocery store (ie. what works for me and my grocery store – Produce, Meat/Dairy/Frozen, Bakery and Bulk, Dry/Canned Goods, Other). Below is an example of the one I use.
8. Grocery Shop the smart way!
Make time for shopping (and give yourself a realistic amount of time for shopping – at least 30 minutes or more if you’re grocery store is particularly large or busy or if you’re not shopping by yourself).
Some of my favourites and must-do always and every time grocery shopping tips:
- try not to shop on an empty stomach
- stick to the list
- 80% of your cart should be from the outside aisle of the grocery store
Seriously though, grocery shopping is so much easier if you list is organized into the different sections of the grocery store and you don’t have to race back and forth across all the different departments.
9. Your menu is planned. Your ingredients are purchased. Now it’s time to get cooking.
- Can any meal prep can be done – batch cooking of grains or meat, chopping or dicing your vegetables, or can you even get to cooking some of your meals so all you have to do is heat them up?
- Or if you don’t have a lot of time to meal prep at the beginning of the week, forget it!
- Meal planning does not necessarily mean meal prepping or having to spend hours and hours in the kitchen over the weekend to get ready for the week. Just allow all your hard work from earlier in the week be your guide and just stick to your plan.
10. Sticking to your plan!
If there’s one thing that is super challenging when it comes to meal planning it’s sticking with it.
- Come back to your why.
- Why is using this meal planning beneficial for you? How is implementing these strategies helping you?
- Make your plan realistic for you.
- If you typically eat dinner out twice a week and love being able to do that, don’t plan for 7 straight days of eating dinner at home. Make your meal plan fit with your lifestyle.
- Even if you start out just planning THREE days each week, it will make a difference.
- Find a Meal Planning Buddy to help you stay accountable to your plan!
- This could be your spouse, your roommate, your kids, your neighbor, or your BFF.
- If you want to read more about making healthy eating at home easier for you, check out 7 Ways to Eat More Vegetables or Helping Your Eat Better!