Tell me, can you predict how your week will go? What can you expect your stress level to be at meal times each day? Let me explain how Meal Planning Can Help You Predict the Future.
Without meal planning your week will likely be filled with you stressing about what you’re gonna make for dinner or pack for lunches.
If you don’t have a plan, mealtime becomes something you may dread.
Mealtimes may also become a trigger for guilt, especially if you choose to run through the drive-thru. You might feel like you’re letting yourself and your family down. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Taking action and deciding to make meal planning part of your routine will change everything. I predict you will save time and, money, food waste, and ease your stress.
You may be asking how can meal planning do all that?
It’s simpler than you may think.
You see, planning ahead takes the guesswork out of mealtime. You’ve already decided what you’re going to eat.
You have done all the shopping with a detailed list of ingredients, so you know you’ve got what you need.
You’ve planned for leftovers so your lunch is ready for tomorrow.
Making an easy breakfast plan on a two-week rotation means breakfast is done too.
Does any of this sound good to you?
How do we make it all happen?
Every good meal plan includes these key elements:
- Taking inventory of the items you already have on hand.
- A well thought out plan of what meals you are going to eat throughout the week.
- Determine which meals can be doubled so you can use the leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Decide which days you won’t have leftovers and plan those lunches
- Put breakfast on a weekly rotation of easy meals
- A detailed shopping list and a trip to the store(or grocery pick up – more about that later)
- Meal prep one day a week
Just grab a notebook and a pen then go through your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Write down any ingredients you have that could be used to make a meal or side dish.
You can even put the ingredients into categories if you really wanna get fancy. Here are some category ideas:
- Meats/Meat Alternatives
- Ready-Made, such as frozen pizza, canned soup, frozen waffles, etc.
Once you have your inventory completed, you can use it to determine what meals you can make using some or all of these ingredients.
This saves you money and that’s awesome!
Make a Meal Plan:
Now let’s keep going by adding in meals that maybe you don’t have all the ingredients for. Look through recipes in cookbooks or online for ideas.
Decide if you think you will want to cook every night or not.
If not, plan a night or two where you have something simple, like canned soup or a freezer lasagna. Adding some crusty bread and a quick green salad makes these meals super easy.
If you predict that one night you won’t be home for dinner, you can either pack a sack meal or plan to go through a drive-thru. Just be sure you don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about it, sometimes it’s a necessary evil.
Be sure to plan for at least three meals each day and a snack or two.
I mentioned putting this on a weekly rotation, here’s what that means.
Plan out 7 meals then repeat them every week. So if this week you are having Yogurt Parfaits on Tuesday, then next week you are also having Yogurt Parfaits on Tuesday, follow?
Keep the meals simple with a prep time of no more than 5-10 minutes the morning of.
Here are a few ideas:
- Toast with Peanut Butter
- Avocado Toast with a hard-boiled egg
- Overnight Oats or Oats with fruit in a mason jar, just add boiling water, let sit for 5-10 mins
Some easy lunch ideas:
- Sandwiches – make for a few days ahead, just put the condiments on the side
- Protein Packs – 2 proteins, a grain, and some fruit and you’re all set
- Southwest Burritos – beans, rice, corn, pico, and salsa
Plan to make double batches of some of your dinners this week so you can have the leftovers for lunch.
Some meals that make yummy reheats are:
- Spaghetti w/ meatballs
- Edamame Fried Rice
- Bean & Rice Bowls
- Gazpacho – make for a quick meal since you eat it cold
Again, this doesn’t have to be complicated. Try to pick meals that use similar ingredients to ensure you use them all up which saves on waste as well as money.
If you’re making Bean & Rice Bowls, then also plan to make Southwest Burritos for lunches. Plan to serve salad a few times during the week so you can use up the lettuce before it goes bad.
Fresh produce is where a lot of money can be wasted. How many times have you bought something, used part of it for a recipe, then ended up throwing the rest out before you could use it again?
Planning to use it all up will cut your food costs and food waste.
Having a detailed shopping is a must.
Go through your meal plan and all the recipes and write down all the ingredients you need to buy.
You don’t want to forget a key ingredient. Going back to the store again opens up the potential to buy things you don’t need(can you tell I’m an impulse shopper?).
If you want to save time shopping, just do a grocery pick-up. It not only saves you time it also keeps you from making impulse purchases which will save you money.
Seriously though, I went from spending $180 a week on food to $100 a week just by using grocery pick-up. It completely eliminates impulse shopping. Because, duh I can’t see the delicious Oreos that are covered in fudgy goodness, so they don’t end up in my cart or on my hips.
Walmart Grocery Pick-up gives you $10 off your first order too – how cool is that?
Set aside a couple of hours at the beginning of your week to prepare your ingredients. Prep as much ahead of time as you can.
This is when you will wash and cut up veggies, make sandwiches, bake muffins, assemble lunches, etc.
This is a good time to cook your meats too.
When we used to eat meat, I would buy bulk packages of ground beef, cook it all at once, then portion it out into 1lb ziplock bags.
This saved me so much time!
Reheat the meat in a saucepan with a little water to keep it from drying out and bam!
You could even go as far as putting all your ingredients into ziplock bags for a dump and go meal.
Another time-saver is to make up mason jars full of oatmeal and any add-ins you want. We used to make them up for the whole week at one time.
If muffins are on your breakfast list, bake them during your meal prep time too.
See how this works? Just try to think of anything that you can prep ahead to make things easier for you during the week and plan to do that during your meal prep time.
So really the only question I have for you know is…
What are you going to do with all the extra time and money you just saved?
Meal planning will save you time, money, and reduce stress in your life.
You won’t have to dread the question, “What’s for Dinner?” again.
You will have healthy meals planned and ready for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Setting aside just a few hours a week to meal plan and prep will save you so much time throughout your week, you’ll be so glad you did it. Trust me!
Using leftovers for lunches is a good practice and also tastes great(especially spaghetti, I looove leftover spaghetti!).
Putting breakfast on a rotation takes the guesswork out of mornings and gets you moving faster.
Meal Planning Can Help You Predict the Future and it’s looking bright!
Have you tried meal planning? What are some tips and tricks you’ve tried that worked well? Leave a comment below to share your ideas with us, we’d love to hear them.
Need a meal planning sheet? Here you go:
Want some snack ideas? These snacks are great for pretty much anyone: