Meal & Grocery Planning: setting up a Meal Routine {and a free printable}

You've probably heard the many benefits of meal or menu planning but have you made the leap into regular meal planning yet? If not, then this new blog series about Meal Planning will hopefully be the push you need to become a fully fledged meal planner.

Meal Planning - Meal Routine

Meal planning isn't difficult but, like most things, a bit of pre-planning at the beginning will make the whole process a lot easier. The crucial first step is creating what I call a 'Meal Routine'.

Your Meal Routine, also known as a meal template or meal theming, is the basic framework you will use to guide you through the meal planning process to make meal planning a breeze.

Sounds complicated? It's not. But first, why meal plan? Because it:

  • saves time - avoid time wasted wondering what to make for dinner while you stand staring into the fridge or wandering around the supermarket and plan to cook double batches of meals and freeze them for busier nights ahead

  • saves angst - no more stress throughout the day of 'what will I cook for dinner tonight?' because you've already planned it

  • saves money - you can avoid costly takeaway meals, you can plan your meals around supermarket specials and you only buy the items you need rather than grabbing things that you 'may' need but will probably end up throwing away

  • reduces waste - you can plan to use up the ingredients you already have rather than having to throw them out later when they pass their use by date

  • encourages healthy eating - you can plan your meals around a balanced diet, making sure to include a wide range of in-season food

  • and one of my personal favourites, it declutters your fridge, freezer and pantry - you only buy what you need each week so there's less clutter and you can actually see what's in there

And the list goes on. So, if you're ready to get started, begin by creating your Meal Routine.


To do this, look at the meals you need to organise each day and simply assign a meal theme or meal type to each one, taking into account what activities you have on that day.

For instance, if you have a slow cooker, that may be your 'theme' for Thursday dinner because you know you'll arrive home later than usual that night and you won't have time to cook. Not only will dinner be ready and waiting for you, but you'll avoid the temptation to order take away - keeping you healthy and saving you money.

You may also choose to be more specific for some meals, such as 'Pancakes with Maple Syrup' on a Sunday morning or 'Chicken Schnitzel Wrap' for Tuesday lunch if that makes things easier.

Here's an example of a Meal Routine:

Need more dinner meal theme ideas? Here are a bunch to get you started:

  • Pasta - there are plenty of variations here to keep everyone in the family happy

  • Stir fry - a quick meal that can make use of leftover meat and vegies

  • Curry - slow cook your own and skip the home delivery expense

  • Soup - the ultimate healthy comfort food, cook large batches and freeze in advance for busy week nights

  • Burgers - you can't go wrong!

  • Slow cooker - put in a little bit of effort earlier in the day and come home to a delicious casserole in the evening, ready to be served

  • Mexican night - Taco Tuesday and try something different like a hearty chilli

  • BBQ - a great Aussie tradition, especially in the warmer months

  • Salad night - use up leftover meat and vegies, especially in summer

  • Kids cook - if your children are old enough, they'll love being able to choose a meal to cook for the rest of the family and it always pays to have children who enjoy cooking

  • Kids' choice - the kids will complain less if they actually contribute to the meal plan

  • Breakfast for dinner - there's nothing wrong with soft boiled eggs and soldiers for dinner on a Sunday night

  • Use what you have - raid the pantry, fridge and freezer and make something from what you already have

You'll find that having a Meal Routine makes regular meal planning so much easier. So, click on the picture below to download your own Meal Routine Printable and get started. Print it as often as you like - you can create a Meal Routine for one week or a fortnight or more. Then, when the seasons change or if you get bored with the one you're using, begin a new one to keep things interesting.

Next week: how to meal plan by week or by month.

Happy meal planning!


#organizing #freeprintable #planning #mealplanning