Meal planning used to be an overwhelming process when I first started, but having a plan is the key to keeping healthy, homemade food on the table. I am sharing my five tips for meal planning made easy.
Meal planning, not meal prepping, has eliminated so much stress on myself as the main cook in our home. We place a lot of value on healthy, home-cooked meals with high-quality sourced ingredients. These five tips for meal planning help me get easy and quick foods on the table the table every night of the week. Cooking meals at home is the only way to know exactly what is going into my family’s bodies so having a plan for this is key!
Let me preface this by saying that meal planning is NOT for everyone! If plans and lists stress you out, you may not enjoy in the way I meal plan! I don’t find fancy recipes on Pinterest and keep this as bare bones as possible, but I do have a very type A personality and thrive on plans and lists to follow!
Meal planning has also helped us save lots on our grocery budget. Going into the grocery store with a list of foods that I KNOW I have a need for that week keeps me from wandering the aisles, aimlessly throwing items into my cart. Those items often never get eaten before they expire, especially produce, because I had no original plan for them when I was purchasing.
Meal planning does not have to be an overwhelming process. Just make it your own!
I have looked up all of the fancy meal planners on Pinterest that include breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 1, 2, or 3 months at a time. That to ME is overwhelming!
We grocery stop every other week, receive an order from Misfits Market every other week, and a Thrive Market order once a month. My meal planning revolves around a 10-14 day spread of dinners only. Breakfast at our home is pretty basic consisting of eggs, sourdough toast, creamy coconut milk oats, cereal. Lunch is usually some form of leftovers!
Therefore, I only meal plan for dinner since we enjoy that time sitting down together as a family and I try to make this time as special as possible with a delicious, but simple, home cooked meal!
watch the video here:
My five Tips for Meal Planning Made Easy
1. Keep a Basic Meal Plan “Outline”
This is just a general guideline that I keep in my head so that if I am not feeling any inspiration to try a new recipe, I have a basic guideline to fall back on. It usually looks something like this in our household.
Sunday: Hearty Meal – double recipe for leftovers in lunches
Here are a few hearty recipes we love:
Monday: Simple and Quick- Meat, Veggie, Potato Side
Need an idea for a quick veggie or potato side dish?
Tuesday: Mexican Flair
My friend Ally has some great Mexican dishes for an easy weeknight dinner!
Wednesday: Plant-Based Meal
Thursday; Breakfast for Dinner
Friday; Sourdough Pizza
I use this recipe for the crust, minus the instant yeast.
Saturday: Grill/Cook with Husband Date Night
2. Plan Meals Around Seasonal Foods
Planning meals around the season has many benefits. The number one reason for us is the cost efficiency. Produce is much cheaper when it is in season and also tastes much better!
The nutritional value is higher in seasonal produce since it is not being shipped as far to get to your local grocery stores. If I am paying for high-quality, organic produce, I want to be receiving the most nutrients I can from it!
We get our seasonal produce from our garden in the summer as well as order through Misfit Market throughout the year. We prioritize organic, ethically sourced produce when possible.
3. Make grocery list based on the sections in the grocery story
This may seem a bit OCD to you, but trust me, it saves so much time when grocery shopping! I like to categorize my grocery lists in the order I visit those areas in my grocery store.
We begin with the produce (whatever produce I am not getting from Misfit Market that week). After that my list will lead me to the dry goods where we purchase our flours, peanut butter, coconut milk, etc. Finally, we end in the colder sections of the grocery store to get any frozen veggies, if needed.
This keeps me from aimlessly walking around the store tossing things that “look good” into my cart. I have found that if I do not have a plan to cook with an item, it will not get used quickly enough before it expires.
4. Always have a protein source thawing
Whenever one of our meals involves a meat item, I make sure to set it out to thaw either the night before in the fridge or in the sink when I get home from work. We bulk purchase our grass-fed beef from a local farmer and my husband harvests wild game each year.
As a work-away-from home mom, just a little glimpse ahead on our meal planner allows me to prepare for that night’s dinner with very little stress.
If our dinner does not require an animal protein that evening, I simply skip this step and see if I need to set out any other food items ahead of time.
5. Plan around events that may take place that week
I love when I get to write “date night” on our meal planner. It builds up the excitement for the week as well as reminds me that I have one less meal to prepare for.
We eat at home most every night of the week but every so often we may plan a night out or a visit to our family’s house for dinner! I always pencil those in on our meal planner.
a few last tips
I always advise to look at others meal planning systems and adapt them to meet your personal needs. The fancy meal planners that I found all over Pinterest were too overwhelming, so I created my own. If you are interested in creating one similar or using mine, I have provided a downloadable link below. It’s SUPER basic, but that’s how I prefer things!
Meal planning should not be overwhelming, but instead think of it as an act of love and service to your family! Home cooked meals really are the healthiest way to eat since you can source the ingredients yourself and know exactly what your family is being served.
Download my Super Simple Weekly Meal Planner: Weekly Meal Planner- Harris Homestead
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