Weekly Meal Planning can save you time and money, but it can be a bit daunting at first. Here are some simple steps to get you started in the right direction.
Step 1: Get Organized
Decide where you will write (or build, if using an app) your meal plans. Keep them in the same place each week, so you know where to ﬁnd them. Write your shopping list at the same time you write your meal plan, so you know exactly what you’ll need to buy for the week.
Remember we offer the coolest meal planning tool on the internet that even generates the shopping list for you (which is often the hardest part of meal planning)! If you are using our website to plan your meals with our online meal planner, make sure you save a link to the website on your phone home screen and bookmark it on your desktop browser so you can get there easily. If you aren’t using our tool yet, you can try it for free (no credit card required) for 3 weeks RIGHT HERE.
Step 2: See The Future
Knowing what you have on your calendar for the week can help you know which nights you can allow more time for cooking and which nights you might consider a freezer or slow cooker meal, or maybe leftovers or out to eat.
Step 3: Take Inventory
What do you already have in the freezer and pantry that you can use as a start of a meal? Frozen chicken breasts? Frozen shrimp? Frozen Veggies? Whole Wheat Pasta? Building your meals around already existing ingredients saves time, money, and freezer space.
Use our recipe search page to filter meals by ingredients so you can match recipes to what you already have on hand!
Step 4: Shop The Sales
Most grocers advertise their sales online, so you can check to see what’s on sale before you even leave the house. In fact, some have apps now (Target, Safeway, etc) that allow you to see sales and add them to your list before you go to the store.
Remember, grocers put out sales to get you to come in the store and hope you will buy other things while you’re there. (But you’re too savvy for that!)
Step 5: Plan For Leftovers
I call these planned overs. Intentionally make enough so that you have enough left for another meal. This doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing twice. A double batch of taco meat, for example, can be tacos one night and taco salad another. Baking double the number of sweet potatoes can be fajita stuffed sweet potatoes one night and baked sweet potatoes another night. Making double the rice for stir fry can mean a second meal of fried rice.
Step 6: Allow Some Treats
Allow an occasional treat of going out to eat. If you use this as a “treat” and not a “crutch,” you’ll save your health, save your money, and save your time. In fact, it can still be a treat to eat out even if you stay healthy in your choices. You still get to take a night off from cooking and focus on other things even if you stick to healthy options.