Simple Meal Planning Tips| Meal Planning Tips for Beginners

Why you should definitely utilize meal planning

Meal planning is amazing for time management and not at all as daunting as it seems. I started meal planning for my husband and myself about a year ago and I haven’t looked back since.  Planning meals has saved me not only time and frustration it has saved me money as well, seeing that we never eat out during the week. It also helps to keep me organized.  The advantages of planning your meals are  plentiful. You can meal plan for weight loss, for budgeting purposes and also to help maintain your weight. My goal in planning my meals is mainly for time management. I absolutely love taking care of my home but I also love to allow myself some downtime as well so planning and scheduling meals has helped me with that.  I don’t spend all day in the kitchen deciding what I want to cook and then determining whether I have the ingredients necessary for the dish. Meal planning allows me to avoid the headache of being unprepared and to also work efficiently. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, single person, or working mom planning your meals in advance will benefit you if you just try it out.

Follow these simple steps below to start meal planning like a boss:

Keep it simple

My rule of thumb for meal planning is to keep it simple. I know for certain that in my household we typically only eat certain types of meats.  I know which seasoning staples I always have on hand, as well as herbs, veggies and so forth,  so the possibilities are endless when it comes to planning our meals. If you haven’t done so already, please check out this blog post on why you need a master grocery list to further simplify the meal planning process.  For the most part our meals consist of 1 meat and two veggies, and while that doesn’t sound super enticing, when you start researching you’ll find that even the blandest of vegetables can be jazzed up to create a simple yet delicious meal. So keep that in mind when planning your meals. Keep it simple and eat your veggies. 

Check your pantry for all of your ingredients

Make sure that you have all ingredients needed for your meals before the week begins. When I don’t plan my meals, I am super guilty  of making multiple grocery store runs a every week and I hate it. What sucks the most is being in the middle of a dish and realizing that you don’t have  the necessary ingredients.  But the beauty of meal planning in advance is that as you plan your meals you are also creating your shopping list.  So you’re ensuring that you have all of your ingredients before you start cooking. 

Keep a 5-10 meal rotation

You don’t have to be a certified chef when meal planning, just stick to making  meals that your family loves. Try to come up with a list of about 10 or so meals that you love and rotate those throughout the month. Add a bit or variance so that you, nor your family will get bored with dinner. For instance, instead of just making plain meatloaf as part of your rotation, switch it up by making, spicy meatloaf once, turkey meatloaf the next time around, and then possibly  meatless meatloaf. 

Get creative, sometimes

Once or twice a month, I like to try to make a new dish. I have a secret board on Pinterest that I have specifically dubbed “Recipes to try” for this exact reason. My palette appreciates flavor variety on occasion so I like to experiment with dishes. I typically only do so on the weekends, or days that I’m less restricted with time. You  don’t want to rush  yourself when trying out new dishes so be very strategic when choosing which day you’ll be testing a new recipe. Also, I  like  to give myself time as well to buy certain ingredients as they may not be in the budget for that week. Either way, allow yourself to get creative from time to time and experiment with new flavors and cooking techniques. Doing so will  hep you to possibly add dishes to your meal planning rotation.

Plan at least 30 days out

In my opinion, this is one of the most important aspects of meal planning. Anything less and you’re not giving yourself time to truly commit to the process and reap all of it’s benefits. If you’re familiar with what your family likes it literally takes less than 30 minutes to meal plan for 30 days. And the beauty of meal planning  30 days out is that you literally can re-use that same meal plan every month. Just rotate the meals. If you feel overwhelmed by the process of choosing dishes to cook then make it a family activity. Ask each member of your family what their favorite meal is and pick a day to make those meals. You can also theme your days to make it easier for you as well. Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays and  Spaghetti Sundays are popular meal planning themes. Keep in mind that you don’t have to cook every single day when meal planning. Taco Tuesday may spill over into Wednesday and that’s totally ok. Make enough food for 2-3 days worth of meals, lunch included,  if necessary.

Once you get the hang of meal planning for your family then you’ll be hooked. Remember to keep it simple, plan out your meals 30 days in advance, be creative and to keep a 5-10 meal rotation going and you should be good to go. Also,  My last suggestion is try  to plan your snacks out as well.  This is especially helpful when meal planning to stay on budget.  

Tell me, have you meal planned before. How did  it  go for you? Leave a comment below.