Meal Planning Sunday · Tips and Tricks

Meal Planning 101

Today I am going to share with you some “nuggets” on how I meal plan. Before I get started, let me just say that I love meal planning and have been doing it for years. When I moved into my first apartment in college it was directly behind a Safeway. For the first month, each night my roommates and I would walk down to Safeway and get our dinner. Quickly this became annoying and we started to meal plan our dinners, lunches, and breakfasts. When Brandon and I first got married we lived on his farm which was 20 minutes away from a store. I learned quickly how to meal plan. Here is what I do…

  • I have a notebook which sits right on my kitchen counter. As I run out of things (flour/counter spray/shampoo/anything) I jot it down on my list. I also write out little days of the week and as the week goes on, if someone (Maddi, Guy or Brandon) requests something for dinner I write it down for the next week (last week Guy requested hamburgers). As my week goes on, my list fills up.

  • On Friday night or Saturday morning I decide on the rest of the meals for the upcoming week. I use several recipe books but these are some of my favorites that I use the most. I also check my Pintrest.

  • Also, while I am deciding what dinners we would like for the upcoming week I look at my planner. I like to plan Crock Pot meals if I have meetings after work, or something easy for nights of activities.
  • After I decide on dinners, I try to write down when I will need to thaw items such as meat for meals ahead. I write this down in my planner as well.

  • I like to keep track of my meals in order to decrease repeat meals all the time. I keep log of meals in another spiral notebook (this was prior to my Life Planner). I like keeping these meal plans because I like looking back on what we ate and it gives me inspiration sometimes if I don’t know what I want to make for the week.

Some other tips that are helpful for me…

  • I plan lunches and breakfasts. I get lunch meat, bread, breakfast material, and plan when my kiddos are eating hot lunch.
  • I get my families input on what they would like to eat. I always ask what they would like for breakfast and lunches as well as dinner.
  • I shop with a list.
  • I look in my cupboards. Do I already have an ingredient? Does it need to be on my list?
  • I shop my freezer. What meat do I have already? Sometimes this helps jar my memory, if I have ground turkey I will probably make something with tacos (salad, taco soup, etc).
  • I write two grocery lists. One is my “sloppy copy” and the second is my “final list” which I re-write in the order in which I shop the store. Produce, meat, freezer, isles, dairy. Cleaning and beauty supplies last.
  • I try to leave my husband and kids home because they always add more to the cart. Hahaha!
  • I plan one or two desserts for the week (brownies, cookies, muffins, cupcakes, etc…) for the kiddos.

Do you meal plan? What tips would you give me? AmΒ  I missing anything? I love learning how others plan their meals and how they shop.

And in case you need some meal planning inspiration, you can always see what is on my menu each Sunday.

Meal Planning Sunday #13
Meal Planning Sunday #12
Meal Planning Sunday #11
Meal Planning Sunday #10
Meal Planning Sunday #9
Meal Planning Sunday #8


Linking today with The Blended Blog

14 thoughts on “Meal Planning 101

  1. I love seeing a look at how other people plan meals! I also make my final list by the way I shop the store too – I’m less likely to forget stuff that way πŸ™‚

    1. I always love looking at how people plan and organize too. And YES to the re-writing the list in the order you shop! I get the side eye sometimes when I mention it πŸ™‚ Have a great day!

    1. I like knowing what our schedule is in advance as well so I can plan my meals accordingly. I wish I could go during the week. During summer break I love going on Thursdays. Thanks for stopping by Stephanie!

  2. I love meal planning! I try to meal plan around the sales which helps keep me out of a food rut (at least for the most part). I also try and have an emergency frozen pizza on hand for unexpected late nights. I re-write the list at least twice, I make a list of what I’d like to have, make a list of what’s on sale, cross reference the two and make any changes and then write a final copy list. It sounds like a lot of work but I think it really pays off in terms of food budget and eliminating food waste!

    1. I love that you make two lists like that. What a great idea. I am a list lover so this sounds like a great idea to me. You are right, I think lists are such a great time saver. Especially while shopping. I also have some frozen pizza’s in my freezer in case of a late night as well, or if my husband is cooking dinner…and chicken nuggets. Have a great day!

  3. love your meal planning tips!! I need to get back to meal really saves time and money. I can’t tell you how many times I re-write my list……
    have a great week!

    1. Hi Susan, I agree at how much time and money it saves. It also saves me from the “what are we going to eat tonight?” questions. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

    1. Heather, I love writing my list in the order I shop. I do get the side eye from some people but it is a life saver. Especially when I have my kiddos with me. Type A! πŸ™‚ Have a great day my friend!

  4. I’m totally all about writing that final list…and typically in the order I find the items in the store. Ugh…this week there is no plan after I returned from vacation so I’m thinking there will be some spaghetti and tacos!

  5. I love how you keep that notebook to jot down notes here and there! That is fabulous, girl. Something I do is keep in mind my nutritional needs a little separate from my family’s. I need to reduce my carb/sugar intake so on nights where the family is getting a carb meal I make sure I have my own little thing over to the side. It really isn’t any more expensive on a grocery bill either! We now use Hello Fresh so we get really well balanced meals and I don’t have to plan a thing anymore.

    1. Amanda, I like that you do that with your meals. I try to always think if I can make something into a salad (like tacos) but I need to be better at this and get into the mindset. I like that the Hello Fresh meals seem really balanced. I loved reading about your meals this week!

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