Taking the time to meal plan once a week saves me so much time and trouble when life gets busy. I don’t have to try to figure out what to make for dinner. More importantly, I don’t end up just picking up fast food or ordering in, so, it really helps me to stick with my budget too. I meal plan during my Weekly Reset on Saturdays. Here are my steps to meal planning:
Step 1: Choosing the meals
I have a Dinner Meals / Shopping List spreadsheet that I use (shown above). It contains about 30 meals that I frequently make, along with a shopping list of the ingredients for all of the meals. I recently had to change all my favorite meals to low-carb options.
My meals are categorized into Oven, Stovetop, Slow Cooker and Air Fryer. I did this to help choose meals based upon my schedule for that day. For instance, on the days that I keep Luna all day, it’s pretty much a given that I won’t be able to cook a casserole that involves several steps as a 5-month-old usually requires a bit more attention. For these days, I will normally choose a Slow Cooker meal that I can start in the morning before she arrives.
The first thing I do is decide on the meals I want to make for the week. For each day, I highlight the meals on the list that I want to make for the week.
Step 2: Pulling the Recipes
Step 2 involves pulling the recipes from my cookbooks, binder or phone. I use them to check for the ingredients I need before shopping. I keep the recipes in the front of my binder or put an asterisk next to the meal name if the recipe is saved in my phone and not a paper copy.
Step 3: Making My Grocery List
Preparing my meal plan makes it super easy to create my shopping list. I check my fridge, freezer and pantry for all the items on my Dinner Meals / Shopping List that I need for the chosen recipes. Then, I highlight the items I need. This makes it very easy to just add household items we need to the list and then my shopping list is complete.
Step 4: Grocery Shopping
As I stated in my Weekly Reset, I fully own that I have stopped grocery shopping at the store. I always use either Clicklist or Shipt to either pick up my groceries from HEB or have them delivered to my home. I am in love with the convenience and this keeps me from buying anything extra that I don’t need, which is great for someone on a budget.
Step 5: Write the meals in my Meal Prep Planner and on my dry erase board
During Step 5, I write the meal selections into the blocks for that week on my Meal Prep Planner. I keep the pages of my Meal Prep Planner in a binder so I can refer back to them. This keeps me from duplicating recipes too often and also helps me if I am being lazy and just want to repeat an entire week of meals sometime down the road.
I also post this week’s meals on my dry erase board which I keep inside the door of my pantry for convenience. At this time, I create my list of meal prep needs.
Step 6: Meal Prep
My final step is prepping items that need to be prepped for the week. Most weeks, this involves things like cutting up a rotisserie chicken and placing it in containers, washing fruits and placing them in containers, boiling eggs, pre-cutting veggies and placing them in baggies, etc. This is easy stuff but it will save me a lot of time later.
That’s about it for my meal planning. Once it becomes a habit, it makes the evenings run much smoother. Do you plan your meals each week? Does your process work for you? I hope you are able to incorporate shortcuts like this to make your week go more smoothly.
Thanks for reading and be blessed today!