8 Tips to Meal Plan Weekly

…and to make it easier for you and your family!

Whether you want to lose weight or establish healthier habits, meal planning is an amazing tool to keep you on track….and to save you money.

I can’t tell you how many times I used to go to the grocery store and plan meals as I was shopping. Then, I would find myself throwing away food that we never used, because when I was shopping chicken salad sounded delicious, but we never got around to eating it.

Or, my husband would go to the store hungry, purchase a hodgepodge of food, and I was left figuring how to use the food that week.

Oh, and let’s not forget the weeks we never even made it to the grocery store because we had our staples, and we ordered take-out more than I’d like to admit.

Planning for the Plan

Make it simple for you and your family. You can go out a purchase a fancy meal planner, write it on scrap paper, or use a template I created!

Keep in mind…

Tip #1 – Set aside 10 minutes each week

Which day of the week do you have 10 minutes to meal plan?

Meal planning tends to go hand-in-hand with family scheduling. In order to plan meals, you need to know what events are going on and who will be home for meals. As you discuss what everyone has for the upcoming week, you can add in meal planning too.

Personally, this time tends to alternate between Sunday and Monday, depending on how busy we are on the weekends.

If we have a quiet weekend, we like to do this on Sunday morning, so we can plan and grocery shop for the week. If we are busy, it honestly doesn’t happen until Monday morning after the weekend activities, and I can get to the store when I have more time. (plus Mondays are WAY less crowded!)

Tip #2 – Get the family involved

If you have children under the age of 2, there probably isn’t much you can do with them during the planning process. However, older toddlers and school aged children can totally get involved!

Suggestions: have them pick the sides for dinner, allow them a free choice dinner one night, let them plan and cook a dinner for the family, switch things up and do breakfast for dinner, or have them help you cook a meal.

Tip #3 – Keep the meals simple & similar

As long as you don’t require a major variety in your meals day to day, I highly recommend having the same breakfast and lunch all week, or alternate between two options all week.

This will save you tons of time and money in the long run. You will have less waste because you’re eating it all week, and you can meal prep to make it easier for you during the week.

As for dinner, stick to your family’s staple meals most days, and plan for a new recipe when you have the time.

Tip #4 – New recipes

Keep eating at home exciting.

Depending on your cooking confidence and free time, making one new recipe a week is plenty for most families.

Before you meal plan, dig out a cookbook and find 1 new recipe for the upcoming week. Make sure you put a bookmark on that page so you don’t have to search for it again.

Tip! When I plan to make a new recipe for the week, I keep that page of the cookbook open in the kitchen, so I stay motivated to cook it throughout the week.

Tip #5 – Plan take-out/date nights

Depending on your budget, lifestyle, and diet include a time for take-out or a date night when it will work best.

When you restrict yourself from something like take-out, you will dream about it and crave it non-stop. When you give in, you will binge.

Tip #6 – Don’t forget to plan your snacks

It may seem silly, but if you can plan a couple snacks to have during the week, you can prep them in advance and stay on track with your healthy eating goals.

How many times have you bought lots of fruit and vegetables because you “will snack healthier this week,” but then you toss them at the end of the week because they were never washed and cut at the time you wanted a quick snack?

This is why you want to plan and prep snacks for the entire family.

Tip #7 – Allow for flexibility

You are not a failure if you decide to flip flop a day or two.

Maybe something came up and you don’t have time to make the chicken tacos you planned for Tuesday. You had pizza take-out planned for Friday, so you decide to flip the two.

This allows for flexibility and reduces unnecessary stress if you don’t stick to the plan. You are also not wasting food and money because you will still be able to use the food you purchased for home.

Tip #8 – Post it for everyone to see

Keep your meal plan in the kitchen for the entire family to see. This gives everyone a better chance at sticking to the plan, and for the picky eaters to have plenty of notice. #toddlermeltdowns

You can do this

If meal planning is entirely new for you, or you are used to only planning out dinner, set small goals at a time. Maybe start with breakfast and dinner. Then add in lunches and then snacks.

In the end, the purpose of meal planning is to reduce stress, save time and money, and keep you on track with healthy eating. If that’s not happening after a few weeks of trying it, maybe it’s just not for you.

Play around with the time you meal plan and the format you use to keep it simple!

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