This post is all about giving you step by step meal planning tips to take the stress out of figuring out dinner each week! This simple guide will have you planning your meals and feeling a lot less stressed about what to cook each night!
Planning what to make for dinner each night can be so stressful! But with just a little planning, you can easily make this stress ((easily)) go away! My simple step by step meal planning tips will have you not only planning meals like a pro, but also saving money! You will have a lot less wasted food!
You may also find you are eating a bit healthier since you know what you are going to eat each day, which makes takeout or binge eating snacks a lot less frequent!
Meal Planning Tips | The Benefits of Meal Planning
1. Saves Money
If you know exactly what you are going to eat each day, there are no last-minute decisions to order takeout (pricey!!) or do a last-minute grocery run to reach for a ton of convenience food. Having a plan in mind also helps you “shop your fridge and pantry” and use items you already have.
2. Saves Time
Sounds counter-intuitive, but sitting down for 15-2o minutes once a week is a HUGE time saver later in the week when you don’t have to think about what to eat or cook every day! Not to mention a huge stress reducer!
Hands down, planning helps you stick with a healthier. There are actually several scientific studies that have found that people who meal plan, are less likely to be linked to obesity and other health issues (((can you believe there are scientists studying meal planning??!!))
4. Balance/Trying New Things
Meal planning is GREAT for trying new things and making you less likely to get into a dinner rut…which we ALL DO! Using my simple method below, you can try all sorts of different things and always have ideas to try!
[RELATED: IN A DINNER RUT?? DOWNLOAD MY FREE 5 DAY DINNER PLAN HERE!]
5. Take Advantage of Seasonal Items:
I love taking advantage of things that are in season! For example, when you go to the store and see heaps of asparagus or tons of delicious apples! You can easily Pinterest “recipes with asparagus” or “dinner recipes with apples” and get so many ideas on how to use seasonal items!
Meal Planning Tips | Simple Step by Step Guide
1. Start with a sheet or book
2. Shop your pantry, fridge, and freezer!
Do a quick check of your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what “main ingredients” you already have and need to use up (for example frozen turkey, chicken breasts, pasta sauce, etc). Jot those things down on the back of your meal planning template.
3. Start a Pinterest board
I have a private Pinterest board called “Dinner Tonight.” This is where I store all of the meal planning recipes I want to try! Spend a few minutes each week (in line at the store, waiting at the doctor’s office, etc) and look for new recipes/ideas you want to try. That way, your “Dinner Tonight” board will always have tons of great ideas! As you try the recipes, DELETE the ones that you wouldn’t make again. That way, your board is just full of ideas you can add to your weekly meal planner.
4. Get input
This is how I get input from my family “Hey guys! What do want to eat this week……no, you can’t say NOTHING…I need one idea….I already have pizza on the list WHAT ELSE….” This goes on for about a minute and I may or may not get any (good) ideas. My husband usually has some input which is good. Bottom line: try your best!
5. Check your calendar
Do a quick check of your calendar to see what you have going on that week. Soccer from 5-7 on Wednesday? That night you’ll need a super quick meal, leftovers or a crockpot meal. Just plan ahead so you’re not thrown off guard and tempted to pull into the drive-through.
6. Starting filling out the planner
Using the things you jotted down on the back and your Pinterest board as a guide, start filling out your meal planning template! Put the meal at the top under each day
7. Make sure there are 1-2 lazy nights
I sure as heck don’t want to cook 7 nights a week, so give yourself some grace! Plan in leftovers night, takeout one night or an “every man for himself” night. In my house, “every man for himself night” means everyone finds something to eat on their own (within reason) whether it be leftovers, a frozen pizza, quick quesadilla or whatever they can make on their own! This night usually happens when we have leftovers we need to use up.
8. Jot down extras
On the right side of the meal planning template, jot down any extra things you need to pick up like breakfast items, kitchen essentials or things for lunch.
9. Do one big grocery shopping trip
I like to do one big grocery shopping trip per week. I always end up having to go at least one more time during the week to pick up random items or something fresh, but doing the bulk of your shopping in one day saves SO MUCH TIME and MONEY!