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Meal planning can make you cringe just thinking about it. Some people have some resistance to meal planning because they think it will take a lot of time and energy to start.
The biggest thing I hear when people talk about meal planning is how to pick what to each night. Most people generally understand the concept of meal planning, but they get hung up on what to eat.
There are a lot of myths floating around about meal planning and how “challenging” it is. It doesn’t have to be challenging. You can learn to meal plan like a pro.
You don’t have to make it a huge complicated process. After reading this, you will learn how to plan meals you’ll actually cook AND eat without needing to grab the Excedrin bottle.
Steps to pick meals for your meal plan:
Before you begin be sure to head on over HERE and grab your free meal planning printable.
1. Create a list of favorite meals
Create a list of meals your family likes. You can write as many as you can think of for now. You will be adding to this list over time. You don’t have to think of every single meal your family loves right off the bat. There are no rules for this list. You can put recipes with 5 ingredients to 20 ingredients, fast meals or slow cooker meals, etc. Your family has to like it. That’s the only rule. Heck, you can even put peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if your family likes them.
2. Go through the list you created
Go through the list you created and
- Put an asterisk * by the meals that are quick and easy.
- Put a CP or IP for the crockpot and instant pot meals.
**The first two steps will only be done from this point forward if you need to add a new recipe to the list.
3. Grab your calendar
Grab your calendar and see what’s happening this week. Go to your menu plan and put an asterisk * by the nights where you have a lot going on. These will need to be fast meals. You won’t be cooking homemade lasagna on these nights. You will be cooking quick meals.
4 Think about your week
Think about your weeks on a “typical week”. What nights do you never feel like cooking? What nights do you feel like cooking a little longer (or more complex) meal? Write out these days and what you think about them.
Here is mine for reference:
- Saturday- longer, more complex meal
- Friday- don’t want to cook
- Thursday- want super easy tired after the week
- Tuesday- date night and only the kids will be eating
5 Create rules for these days/ theme days
Create theme days or rules for these days. Like I don’t cook on Fridays. Or I only cook fast food like frozen pizza on Thursdays. You can also choose the theme days. Here are some examples for reference.
An example of a theme night is Taco Tuesday. This doesn’t mean every single Tuesday, you only eat tacos for dinner, this means every Tuesday (for as long as you say) you eat a type of taco meat on Tuesday. You can eat tacos, taco salad, nachos, etc. You don’t have to be so rigid that you only eat tacos on Tuesday and no other type of taco meat- unless you love tacos. Then, by all means, cook tacos every single Tuesday.
This step will make meal planning so much easier.
**Note: You can put down restaurants on your meal plan. A meal plan is simply the meals you plan on eating. It doesn’t mean the meals you plan on cooking and then eating. You don’t have to cook every single night. Heck, you can have sandwiches every single Wednesday if you want.
6 Fill in your meal plan with the meals from your theme/rule days first
Put the meals from your theme days/rules first. Put tacos down for every Tuesday or frozen pizza for every single Thursday.
7 Fill in the leftover days
Next, fill in the leftover days. Don’t forget to choose easy recipes from your list on nights when you’re super busy. This step should be super simple after the previous steps. Look to your favorite recipes for ideas for this step.
Quick Success Tips for Meal Planning:
Double or triple the recipe for leftovers and/or freezing.
Double or triple the recipes when you’re cooking and eat leftovers the next night. This one tip cuts your food cooking down to half the amount of time each week right off the bat.
You can also freeze things for later (like for easy nights). To see if a meal will freeze well, just Google it. That’s how I found out you can freeze taco meat.
Only try 1 new recipe per week
You’re gonna get so excited that you’re getting the hang of meal planning and the dollar signs are running through your mind that you’re gonna save by eating at home. This newfound joy of meal planning will make you feel like Rachael Ray and want to cook all the things.
Don’t go crazy. Don’t. Just constrain yourself to 1 new recipe a week. Make sure you schedule the meal on a day when you have time to cook it. Most recipes on Pinterest have an estimated prep time and cook time on the printout.
Try simple recipes at first
At first, you’re trying to establish some new habits. When you’re establishing new habits, you can’t change overnight. And that’s okay. It’s totally normal. Until you get the hang of meal planning, just stick to simple meals.
Keep the recipes you like
Remember to keep the recipes you like. You can keep them in a binder. You can write notes on them if you edited the recipe in any way. If you added more cheese or used rotisserie chicken instead of cooking your own. Whatever you did to the recipe that was different, write the notes on the recipe so you’ll be able to remember what you did later.
Post on the fridge with any recipes
Post the meal plan on the fridge so you won’t forget about it. It will help you remember to start thawing the meat. If you have any printed recipes, keep them behind the meal plan so they’re in one place. You don’t want to have to go searching for the recipe at 5:00 when your whole family is jumping up and down in the kitchen shouting “I’m hungry” like they haven’t eaten in days.
Meal planning can be easy. You don’t have to make it hard. You don’t have to take forever to decide what’s for dinner. You don’t have to do any of that. You can learn to meal plan like a pro. You don’t have to keep living out of the drive thru lane.
Don’t forget to head on over HERE or fill out the form below to download your free meal planning printable to get started. You can learn to rock meal planning. You don’t have to be Rachael Ray to meal plan and cook for your family. They just want to be fed. So, stop what you’re doing and get your freebie.