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5 Tips for Successful Meal Planning

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Meal planning is a key practice that can help simplify your life. From making grocery shopping a breeze to taking the guesswork out of what to have for dinner, it is a sure-fire way to make dinner a cinch and keep healthy, balanced meals on the table. Follow the steps below to start the meal planning process!

Identify a Day to Shop

This step is extremely important in the meal planning process. By selecting a specific day each week to shop for groceries, you’ll know how long your groceries need to stretch and prevents over purchasing. We recommend grocery shopping one time each week.

Pick a time that works best for you. For some, that means going directly after work. For some, they would rather go in the early mornings on the weekends. It’s up to you!

Take a peek at your calendar.

Try writing a “week” grid on a piece of paper: the days of the week along the top and 4-6 rows below, each labeled breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a few snacks. From there, place an “X” in the boxes in which you know you won’t need to provide a dinner. Maybe you have a standing date night on Wednesdays or are meeting up with family for dinner on Friday night.

Take some time to note:

  • How much time do I want to spend prepping over the weekend (if any)?
  • What nights do I often have zero time OR energy to cook a meal?
  • Do I need to pack my lunches (or lunches for anyone else) ahead of time?
  • Don’t forget snacks!

Think of Foods You Like

After collecting the answers in step two, start to think about meal ideas you love. Fill in each box with ideas for meals and snacks for the week (don’t forget about leftovers), taking into consideration the information you gathered. Start with meals you are comfortable and confident cooking, or simple meals like a protein, vegetable, and starch as you get the hang of meal planning.

If you’re struggling to figure out where to start, try our 7 Days of Easy Meals.

Balance is Key

Take a peek at each meal and make sure it has each of the following components: a protein source, a carbohydrate source, a fat source, and fruit or vegetable. If not, take a moment to add what you’re missing to help make each meal balanced.

Make A Plan

After you identify the tasks required for each meal and have divvied them up across your week, you’re good to go! From here, decide when you’d like to cook.

Pre-cutting vegetables and fruit are a good idea. If you want to take it a step further, separate into smaller, snack-sized portions and store in tupperware.

Be sure to keep food safety in mind when planning to freeze, defrost, and cook meat.

The only “right” way to meal plan is to do so in a way that works for you! It is worth the effort and will help save you money and time. It also helps eliminate the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?”.