6 Easy Steps to Great Meal Planning

weekly-meal-planningTo most people meal planning sounds like a huge commitment of time, energy, and money.  However, you may be surprised to know that just putting in a bit of effort can pay off in SO many different ways.  You and your family will be more organized, you can actually be healthier and lose weight, and even save money at the grocery store!

Follow these steps and you’ll be a meal planning pro in no time…and happier because of it!

1. Commit yourself to a time

Do it now! Set yourself a day and time when it will be your weekly planning time. Weekly plans are much better than monthly plans, which can quickly become too overwhelming and too much work, and all the easier to give up.

2. Draw up a simple reusable meal planning chart

List the days of the week, Sunday-Monday.  Put a box underneath where you can write down the chosen Meal of the Day.  Then you can either put a box underneath to write down the ingredients you’ll need at the grocery store or you can make the shopping list seperately based on the Meal Chart.

3. Spend only 15 minutes a week planning your weekly menu

Sit down somewhere comfortable without distractions and browse your cookbooks or the internet for recipes for the week. Once you have chosen the recipes for your meal plan write them in your chart along with the ingredients you need to add to your shopping list – so you can go out and buy the things you don’t currently have.

4. Plans can still be flexible!

Don’t feel like you have failed if you don’t stick to your plan – always ensure that you plan some quick and easy meals in your week as well as meals that require longer preparation, so if you need to swap days around, it’s not a problem. Sometimes life just happens and the plan is there to make it easier for you!

5. Keep your schedule in mind

This one is pretty obvious, but plan to make meals requiring longer preparation time on the days you have the most free time, not on the days where you will be running around too busy to even take a breath! Plan the quick and easy meals for your busier days.

6. Reuse weekly plans you have already created

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes time for meal planning each week.  Once you have up to 4 weeks of meal plans you can use them again and again.  Keep all of your old plans somewhere safe in a folder, so they can be reused!  Now on the weeks you don’t have time to plan your meals you can pull out an old chart and follow that plan.

brown-bag-lunch3Brown Bag Meal Planning Quick Tip:

Do you find you want to eat a healthy salad for lunch some days but have NO time in the morning to prepare it? Simply buy a bag of pre-cut, pre-washed lettuce.  At the beginning of the week, place measured amounts of the lettuce in a container.  Put wax paper over the lettuce in the container and begin to add the nuts, berries, and other ingredients you want on your salads for the week over the wax paper.  This way you can just grab the prepared salad and go adding the ingredients when its time to eat the salad.  The ingredients will stay fresh and dry and the salad will taste just as good as if you had made it right then and there!

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