10 Tips to Simplify Meal Planning

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When it comes to meal planning, there are lots of great benefits! I’ve been meal planning for years and it’s the #1 thing that saves my day when I’m in a hurry because I don’t have to think about what we’re going to eat just before it’s time to cook. Which means we eat better meals with more variety!

10 Tips to Simplify Meal Planning @ AVirtuousWoman.org

10 Tips to Simplify Meal Planning

  • Meal planning saves time and money when you are grocery hopping since you will have a list of everything you need.
  • It saves you stress from trying to figure out what to cook every day.
  • It saves you money that you might otherwise have spent dining out.
  • It also helps you feed your family a variety of healthy meals.

However, meal planning can sometimes be overwhelming if you aren’t used to planning ahead.

Here are 10 helpful tips on how to simplify meal planning for your family:

1. Decide which meals will be your priority. Cooking 3 meals a day is not feasible for everyone. Instead of trying to channel Martha Stewart for breakfast, lunch, and supper, choose one meal to focus on. Many people focus on supper because it is typically the meal that most families eat together and often the largest meal of the day.

If you decide to focus on the evening meal, you can still plan for breakfasts and lunches, just make it simple. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you aren’t in the habit of eating breakfast, I would encourage you to start making it a habit. Children especially need to eat breakfast before school, too.

You might plan a nice home cooked supper and then plan basic meals for breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast Ideas:

  • oatmeal
  • grits
  • cream of wheat
  • yogurt
  • healthy cereal or granola

Lunch Ideas:

  • sandwiches
  • salad
  • soup and grilled cheese
  • quesadillas
  • leftovers

2. Consider your family’s favorite meals & ingredients and plan around those. You could even enlist your family’s help in meal planning by asking each of them to tell you directly what their favorite meals are so that you can add them into the rotation.

Tip: Make a list of family favorites and keep it in your planner for quick ideas when meal planning!

related: My Go-To Meals for Busy Days

3. Always have your staple ingredients on hand. When you keep your refrigerator and pantry well-stocked, it can definitely alleviate the stress of trying to figure out what to eat. It can also minimize the number of times you have to go to the grocery store.

Knowing that you have all of the ingredients on hand makes it easier to stick to your meal plan.

4. Have a list of recipe resources for when you run out of ideas. Of course, there is always Pinterest. If you already have an account, you know that there is no shortage of recipes to try out. However, some other great resources are:

Keep a few of your favorite cook books and your recipe box on hand too! Be sure to follow my recipe board on Pinterest!

5. Make use of your crockpot. If you have a crockpot…use it! There are a wide variety of crockpot recipes out there using all kinds of ingredients. However, the biggest advantage in my mind is that crockpots (or slow cookers) are a great way to cook healthy meals for your family without having to spend a lot of time over the stove. While the food is cooking, you can actually attend to other tasks.

related: Meal Planning 101

6. Plan meals based on what is in season and what is on sale. If one of your goals for meal planning is to save money, this is definitely something that you should consider doing more often. For example, summertime is a great time to make tomato-based dishes.

You might want to have your local grocery sale flyers handy when you’re making your meal plan. Also, make your grocery list as you plan your meals to be sure you won’t be missing an ingredient!

10 Tips to Simplify Meal Planning @ AVirtuousWoman.org

7. Plan ways to use your leftovers. If you usually have leftovers, plan some ways to use them in other meals. Also, plan for leftovers – cook extra for lunch the next day! Or, rework an ingredient you have left over into a new and different recipe.

related: Purchase the Purpose 31 Planner {above}

8. Consider having a theme. It makes it easier to decide which meals to cook. For example, your week could look like this: Mexican Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pasta Wednesday, Crockpot Thursday, Pizza Friday, Casserole Saturday, Simple Sunday. Just looking at this list, you have already decided on at least one dish for each day.

9. Rotate your menu every two weeks. This way, instead of having to come up with 30-31 days’ worth of meals, you only have to come up with 14 days. You will also still have a great deal of variety since you will probably only eat the same meal twice in one month. Or, if you like even more variety, plan a 30 day rotating meal plan!

10. Plan every week or month on the same day until it becomes a regular habit. Once meal planning becomes a habit, you will do it without even having to think about it. I usually do my meal planning on Sunday afternoon. It doesn’t matter what day works for you, just that you sit down at a regular time and do it!

Have any tips you would add? How do you plan your meals?

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  1. Thanks for sharing your amazing post at Motivation Monday. We're featuring it this week! See you at this week's party which starts Sunday night at 6:30pm EST. Can't wait to see what you share. :) Raki Outside the Box Mom

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