Meal planning is a simple yet effective strategy for taking control of your health, saving time and money, and reducing stress in the kitchen. If you’re not already doing it, now is the perfect time to start! Want to jump to the section that gives you what you need? We’re covering the step-by-step instructions for meal planning; laying out sample meal ideas; and giving a grocery list for busy weeks in today’s post.
Before you start meal planning, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. Do you want to save time and money? Eat healthier? Reduce food waste? Knowing your goals will help you tailor your meal plan to your specific needs.
Take a look at your weekly schedule and think about when you’ll have time to cook, grocery shop, and prep meals. This will help you plan meals that fit your schedule and lifestyle. Make sure you build in some “easy” days for yourself–we love planning for leftovers and designating a takeout night!
Based on your goals and schedule, make a list of meals that you want to eat for the week. Consider including a variety of protein sources, vegetables, and healthy grains to ensure that you’re getting a balanced diet. Jump straight to our list of meal ideas here!
Tip: Use the notes section in the back of your planner, on your phone or in a notebook to list out your family-favorite, go-to meals. Create separate lists for each type of protein (i.e. beef, chicken, vegetables, etc.). Go a step further and make lists based on the type of cuisine (i.e. Italian, Mexican, etc.) This make meal planning easier because if you assign themes to each day of the week (or if you want to add a certain type of dish to your menu for the week) you can easily find a meal to fit the need.
Use the monthly calendar pages in your planner (we love Day Designer!) to determine what meals you will serve each day of the month.
Tips: Begin by filling in the day(s) of the week you will consistently serve leftovers and/or eat or take out. I eat out every Friday and eat leftovers every Sunday, for example, so I fill those days in first. Then, use your daily themes to fill in the remaining days. I begin with “Meat Mondays” and choose an easy, one-pot meat dinner for each Monday of the month. Next, I choose the dinners I will serve for Taco Tuesdays, etc.
Once you have a list of meals, create a corresponding grocery list of all the ingredients you’ll need for the week. This will make shopping easier and help you stick to your budget.
We love to save a list in the Walmart app (one of our favorite apps!) with everything needed to make our meals plus breakfast, lunch and snack items, and simply add items to cart. A week’s worth of meals is planned and you don’t have to worry about planning or shopping for any of it. If you sign up to access our “Grocery List for a Busy Week” above, we will also send you a plain text version of our list so you can keep a copy in your phone!
Tip: If you use Walmart Grocery Pickup, you can create saved lists in your phone so you can simply add items to your cart. I have multiple lists saved – some for individual recipes, some for meal type (i.e. breakfasts, lunch, and dinner) and then our staples/favorites
With your list in hand, head to the grocery store and stock up on everything you need for the week. Don’t forget to check your pantry and fridge for ingredients you already have on hand.
Tip: Use Walmart Grocery Pickup to save time and money!
To make mealtime easier, consider prepping meals in advance. This can be as simple as chopping vegetables or cooking grains ahead of time, or you can go all out and prepare entire meals that can be reheated later in the week.
Tip: Double your recipes so you have plenty of leftovers for lunches later in the week (this way you don’t have to plan or buy additional items for lunch each week).
Once you have your meals and ingredients planned out, try to stick to your plan as much as possible. Of course, life happens and you may need to make adjustments, but having a plan in place will make it easier to stay on track.
While it’s important to have a plan, it’s also important to be flexible. Don’t be afraid to switch things up or try new recipes if something isn’t working for you. The key is to find a meal planning system that works for you and your lifestyle.
Meal planning may take a little bit of effort upfront, but it can save you time, money, and stress in the long run. Plus, it can help you make healthier choices and achieve your goals. So why wait? Start meal planning today and take control of your health and wellness!
Tip: Shred chicken before placing it in the refrigerator. Use to make BBQ chicken (simply mix with Primal Kitchen Organic & Unsweetened Classic BBQ Sauce), chicken sandwiches (we like to add Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayo), chicken salad, chicken quesadillas, chicken nachos, or to top a salad.
Don’t feel like you need to plan out a meal for every night! We like to plan to eat out one night and to eat leftovers another night for a full week’s worth of meals.