How to meal plan: step-by-step instructions
Meal Planning encourages healthy eating and can save you time, money and stress. Whether you plan meals weekly or monthly, there’s no right or wrong way. Work out what works best for you and add it to your weekly (or monthly) routine. It's another chore - yes - but it will save you so much time during the week that it's always worth the trouble.
So be kind to your future self and follow these instructions to plan your meals for this week. Note that these instructions show the Lorna Leigh Lane Meal Planning Ultimate Planner Kit printables which you can buy here but you can simply use pen, paper and a calendar instead.
WHY MEAL PLAN?
Understanding the benefits of meal planning will help keep you motivated to keep it up. In case you need a reminder, here are a few reasons to meal plan as regularly as you can:
1 | Meal planning saves time
No more staring into the fridge or wandering around the supermarket wondering what to have for dinner. You can also plan to cook double batches of meals and freeze them for busier nights ahead.
2 | Meal planning saves angst
You can avoid that last minute 'what can I cook for dinner?' scramble because you've already planned it all.
3 | Meal planning saves money
Avoid costly takeaway meals and instead, plan your meals around supermarket specials and seasonal produce.
4 | Meal planning reduces waste
Plan to use up the ingredients you already have rather than throwing them out later when they pass their use by date.
5 | Meal planning encourages healthy eating
Plan your meals around a balanced diet, making sure to include a wide range of in-season food.
6 | Meal planning declutters your kitchen
When you meal plan, you only buy what you need each week so there's less clutter in your fridge, freezer and pantry and you can actually see what's in there.
So, how do you meal plan?
HOW TO MEAL PLAN
1 | Set up a Meal Routine
This step isn't essential but setting up a Meal Routine will make meal planning each week so much easier. Look at what you have on during a typical week and plan meal 'themes' around those activities.
For instance, if you get home late on a Thursday evening, you might make Thursday your slow cooker night. If you have a little more time on a Tuesday night, you might make that the night you try a new recipe. Or you may have the pizza every Friday night.
You'll find that having a Meal Routine makes regular meal planning so much easier because it takes a lot of the thinking out of the process. Then as the seasons change, your lifetsyle changes or your family gets bored, you can switch your Meal Routine up to suit your new circumstances.
2 | Decide on your time period
Most people start out meal planning for a week at a time but it doesn't take much longer to meal plan for a fortnight, month or even a school semester.
Often, you can simply repeat the same few weekly plans over a period of a couple of months. This can save time because you can cook double quantities of some meals and freeze half for future dinners. It can also save you money if you buy the ingredients in season and in bulk.
3 | Plan your meals
With your Meal Routine as a guide, and taking into account in-season produce and store specials, fill in your meal plan.
Begin by looking at what you have in your planner. For instance, if you're going out for dinner one night, put that in so you know not to plan a meal that night.
Next, add the easy ones: do you have the same thing for breakfast every Sunday? Pop that in. Do the kids have cafeteria lunch every Friday? Put that in too. Is Friday night pizza night at your place? Fill that in.
Another idea is to ask each family member for a favourite meal to add. Put those in and you'll probably find that your meal plan is filling up quickly.
Then fill in the rest of the gaps using your Meal Routine. If you're meal planning for more than one week, duplicate meals and plan to cook a double batch and freeze half.
And you're done! Just remember to stick your Meal Plan on the fridge so the rest of the family can see what the menu is for each day.
Feel like really making meal planning even easier?
The Lorna Leigh Lane Meal Planning Ultimate Planner Kit includes pages to plan your meals weekly and monthly..
Within the pages of this kit you can also plan your meal routines, groceries, recipes and much more.
To get your Meal Planning Ultimate Planner Kit click the button below below and start meal planning today.