I have been a homemaker for 8 years now, but I am still figuring out ways how to manage my home, family, and work with ease. One of the things that I have been doing more of lately is meal planning and meal prepping. Today I will be sharing 6 ways how to get started with meal planning.
Before we gin into this topic, let’s cover some basics.
What is meal planning?
Meal planning, in simple terms, is planning your meals ahead of time, planning them for either a week or a month, and going grocery shopping for the ingredients you will need for the meals.
Benefits of Meal Planning
- Meal planning can help you save time: a lot goes into meal planning that can make a beginner feel like it’s taking so much time but as you keep doing it and make it a habit, it will be easier and much quicker to plan. Meal planning saves a lot of time spent in the kitchen preparing meals daily
- Save Money: While you may avoid eating out often, meal planning also entails purchasing goods in bulk, which can save you a lot of money by helping you stick to the grocery list and also prevent impulse buying.
- Less Stress around the kitchen and cooking: It’s so nice to not have to stress about what to cook for breakfast, lunch, or supper every day, meal planning takes the guesswork out the window and helps you take control of the meals for the week. You always know what’s for dinner.
- Prevents food waste: Meal planning gives every food on the grocery list purpose. You go to the grocery shop with a plan, you know what you’re going to buy and its use, and no item will be in the fridge until it goes to waste.
- Helps you eat healthier: Picking your meals in advance helps you stay on your fitness or diet game. With a meal plan, you’re able to choose the ingredients and healthy meals in advance keeping your meals balanced and filled with nutrients.
So now, how to get started with meal planning. Here are 6 steps on how to get started.
1 Choose a meal planning style.
Meal planning looks different for everyone, there are over 5 meal planning methods that people us.
Some people prefer to plan meals weekly, or monthly, using a fully scheduled meal plan, others choose to cook all their meals in advance and freeze them for a month.
Other people use themed days of the week to plan their meals, Tuesday: Burger night, Friday: Pizza, others do a combination.
It’s important to choose a meal planning style that will work well with your lifestyle and goals.
2 Choose a meal planning and grocery shopping day
Wednesday is my meal planning day, Thursdays I do grocery shopping and Fridays/Sundays (mostly Sundays) I do my meal prepping/freezer cooking. Evaluate your week and choose a day or two that will be best for you.
3 Make your kitchen ready.
Get the necessary kitchen tools and equipment needed to make meal planning easier, Knives, storage bags and containers, cutting boards, pots, and peelers. These will make the process more enjoyable and easier. You can invest in other tools like blender, food processor, mincing machines, etc., however, it is possible to meal plan and meal prep without them.
4 Decide on the number of meals you will cook.
My kids and I spend most of our time at home and we strive on a 3-meal diet (breakfast, lunch & supper + snack) while my husband eats mostly a 2-meal diet. We also have eating out days, mostly once or twice a month, knowing this beforehand, helps in the planning process. I know I have to cook most of our meals while another family may only need to cook two meals or only one.
Check if you need to pack kids’ lunch? What kind of lunch do they take to school? Do leftovers work as lunch, or do they do sandwiches, etc. All these things play a part in helping you figure out the number of meals you need to cook.
5 Make a list of recipes and write your meals
Before going into your cookbooks or searching through Pinterest, first make a list of recipes that your family enjoys and ones you like cooking. Come up with different types of dishes, quick and easy meals, special family meals, and meals that can be prepped ahead like (slow cooker meals).
6 Work on your grocery list.
Write your grocery list with the ingredients that you have on you meals that you have picked up. A pro-tip I learned from a YouTube mama is to organize your grocery list based on the different sections of the grocery store so that when you’re at the grocery store, you’re better able to navigate the grocery store. Write down what you need from specific stores.
That’s it; I hope you find this post helpful. Do add to the list, some things you do to make meal planning easier.