Today, I’ll share how I meal plan as well as a free meal plan worksheet I created that you can print and use too!
My love for meal planning started in sixth grade, when my mom delightedly giving me the green light to cook dinner for my family one night. I sat in history class that day not really listening to all the talk about our governmental structure and the founding fathers, but instead dreaming of what I would make that night and eat step in the process. Even then, there was something about meal planning that I found really inspiring– it didn’t matter that what I was planning was shake n’ bake pork chops with mashed potatoes and green beans.
During the pandemic, I’ve found even more reasons to meal plan: it reduces my trips to the grocery store, minimizes waste, and takes the guesswork out of dinner. For all those reasons, it’s my biggest weekly time saver. It’s also keeping me inspired to cook– most of the time! Here are my tips to make it easier:
Streamline your meal planning:
I found that I’d sit down each week to meal plan, and I’d do it in a slightly different way each time. It ended up taking a long time some weeks, and not a lot of time on others. In order to streamline it, I decided to create this meal plan worksheet that I could print each week, and use to plan my menu, and my list in one!
Plan your menu:
Every week, I sit down with my family and we plan our menu, as well as lunch, breakfast, and snack options. Yes, my kids usually ask for the exact same things (hot dogs! oven fries! cliff bars!) Having a plan means I can say, “We had hot dogs last week, can you think of something else this week?” Or, it means I can say “Sure! We haven’t had fries in a while!” I like to give everyone one dinner choice so we all have something to look forward to eating.
Make your list:
Next, I look at the menu, and write down everything I need for what I’ve planned to make. This helps me check first to see what I already have on hand, and it also helps me not over-buy. If I only need one onion, for example, I don’t buy two!
Shop in order:
To make my grocery trip even speedier, I set up my list in order of my favorite grocery store. However, many stores have a similar layout– with produce, meats, and dairy around the edge, and the snack items and canned goods in the inner aisles. That’s why they say to shop the perimeter first!
Once I finish shopping, I like to post my meal plan worksheet on a clipboard in my kitchen. That way, everyone knows what the meal and snack options are, and which foods are stocked.
How do you like to meal plan?
Post your tips in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.
Want my meal planning worksheet?
You can grab that free here. Just click the “checkout” link to download, print, and enjoy!
Happy meal planning,