Meal & Grocery Planning: how to meal plan {and a free printable}

When it comes to meal planning, you must first resign yourself to the fact that it will require a little bit of work in the beginning but know that once you get into the swing of it, you'll thank yourself later. A small investment of time on a Sunday morning will save you time, money and the 5 pm angst of wondering what on earth to feed everyone for dinner.

Meal Planning - Meal Routine

Last week's blog post listed the many benefits of meal planning. This week's post will guide you step-by-step through the actual process of planning your meals.

Everyone meal plans differently, based on available time, money and energy so you'll want to tailor this process to suit you.


1. Decide what period of time you'd like to meal plan for.

Most people start out meal planning for the week ahead but it doesn't take much longer to meal plan for a fortnight, month or even a school term. 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 often cook double quantities and freeze half for future meals. It can also save you money if you buy the ingredients in bulk.

2. Decide how you'll record your meal plan.

There are many ways to record your meal plan, depending on how in-depth you may want your plan to be. That's where this week's free printables come in handy! If you'd like to plan by the week, print out one or two of these Weekly Meal Plan templates:

Or if you'd like to try planning by the month or even the school term, print out one or two of the Monthly Meal Plan templates and fill in the dates:

3. Check specials and what's in season.

This step is optional but, particularly if you meal plan once a week, you may want to take a look at what's on special in your local store. You can do this online or by checking store catalogues. Then incorporate those items into your meal plan.

Checking what fresh produce is in season is another way to ensure your meal plan stays on budget.

4. Make sure you have your planner handy.

It makes sense to plan quick meals for the days when you're short on time and more time-consuming meals for the days that you're not quite as rushed, so make sure you have your planner handy to check each day's activities.

5. Plan your meals.

With your Meal Routine as a guide, start with the easy ones. Do you have the same thing for breakfast every Sunday? Pop that in. Do the kids have tuck shop for lunch every Friday? Put that in too. Then continue to enter meals based on your Meal Routine, tweaking where necessary to take into account what activities you have recorded in your planner.

If you're meal planning for more than one week, add variety but also repetition. For instance, if Thursday night is slow cooker night, then you may choose chicken tikka masala for the first and third week and beef bourguignon for the second and fourth week.

If you begin to get stuck for ideas, check your family favourite recipes or ask family members to add their choices to fill in the gaps - it always helps to get everyone involved. You'll probably find that you can fill a month or even two months in no time.

6. Display your Meal Plan.

Stick your meal plan to the fridge where the whole family can see it. If you have a Lorna Leigh Lane Planner, you might want to make note of your meals there too.

And that's it! You'll no doubt find that, like most things, the bulk of the work is in the preparation. Then you can enjoy stress-free meals for the rest of the week, month or term.

Next week: food staples and shopping lists.

Happy meal planning!


#organizing #freeprintable #planning #mealplanning