So many readers tell me that they struggle with meal planning. Too often they’re scrambling around in the afternoon or after work, wondering what they’re going to make for dinner.
Guess what? I’m here to help with my top meal planning tips!
Meal planning might seem like a hassle to some, but there are unrecognized benefits:
First, it saves you time. You already know what’s for dinner, and all the ingredients are on hand.
Second, you’ll save money through meal planning. Since you have a plan for dinner and the ingredients on hand, you’re less likely to order take-out or get fast-food.
Third, planning your meals promotes healthier eating. By planning ahead you can incorporate healthy entries and sides into your meals.
Fourth, having a meal plan creates less stress in your life. Dinner (and other meals) become one less thing to worry about.
When I talk about meal planning, I’m referring to dinner. Since it’s just my husband and I, we usually grab our own breakfasts and lunches.
So, that’s really the only the meal I plan. But, most of these tips will work equally well for all meals you serve.
Here are my top tips:
- Save meal ideas in one place. If you’re a techie, create a list in the “notes” app on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Name it “meal planning.” Whenever you see an interesting recipe or post, copy the link to it and post it there. Also list the meals you regularly serve, such as tacos or spaghetti. If you’re old school like me, print off recipes you like and keep them in a folder.
- Set aside the same day each week for meal planning. I prefer Sundays evenings, but sometimes it happens on Monday. Either list the meals in your eCalendar along with the recipe link, or list your meals in a planner or notebook, and paper clip the recipes to the page. Whatever works best for you.
- Get meal inspired! Not sure where to look for great meals? Then do a hashtag search on Instagram, a search on Pinterest, or turn to google for the types of meals you like. For example #easyrecipes, #quickmeals, easy dinners, dinner ideas. You get the idea.
- Plan for the unexpected. Keep a few quick and easy meals on hand for “those days.” You know what those days are, everything goes wrong and you need a quick dinner. My favorites to keep on hand are Trader Joe’s frozen fried rice, Costco’s Kirkland brand frozen Italian meatballs, and frozen potstickers (dumplings) and packaged or frozen rice.
- Rotate or alternate those meal plans. Once you’ve been meal planning regularly, you’ll have plans to replicate. That means you might only have to really plan about half the time!
Planning dinners ahead doesn’t have to be challenging. But, there are so many benefits from knowing what you’ll be making for dinner!
Make life easier with these other hacks and tips:
- Top 10 Tips for Buying Organic on a Budget
- Tips and Hacks for the Instant Pot
- 20 Kitchen Hacks that will Save You Money