Planning your meals for the week ahead can save you time, money and improve your nutrition. Additionally, it may encourage your family to eat healthier foods by providing them with a menu plan.
Meal planning can be made simpler by creating a master list of meals and recipes you and your family already enjoy. Doing this reduces decision fatigue and relieves the mental strain of constantly searching for new recipes.
1. Make a list of your staples
Meal planning can seem like an impossible task with so many ingredients to consider. When you break it down into manageable chunks, however, it doesn’t have to be such a chore.
One of the best ways to simplify meal planning is by making a list of your staples. Doing this helps you avoid forgetting important items on your shopping list and wasting money on unnecessary purchases.
Once you’ve created your list, go through the pantry and fridge to ensure all necessary items are on hand. Doing this will allow you to quickly make nutritious meals when needed.
Save a copy of this list for quick reference when shopping. Doing so can help save you money and prevent forgetting essential items during hectic weeks.
2. Make a list of your go-to meals
Establishing a routine of go-to meals for your family can make meal planning much simpler. Choose meals that everyone enjoys and switch them up throughout the week or month for variety and consistency in taste and preparation.
Begin by making a list of all meals you prepare regularly, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Use a notepad or journal to record these meals.
Create lists based on cuisine, protein and ingredient to reduce wasteful food purchases and make shopping trips a breeze!
Stock your pantry, refrigerator and freezer with ingredients you use often so cooking doesn’t take up as much time. This can save a lot of effort during preparation.
3. Make a list of your favorite recipes
Establishing a recipe library is the first step to simplify meal planning. Not only will this save you time, but it can also help prevent you from ordering takeout or dining out too often.
Make a list of meals your family loves and is easy to make and cook, such as hamburgers, chicken salad, scrambled eggs, homemade pizza, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches on toast, veggie soup and more!
Create a seasonal list too, such as fall/winter favorites and spring/summer favorites. You could use this list both for future menu planning and to quickly jot down new recipes you want to try.
4. Make a list of your favorite grocery stores
A grocery list is the ideal way to streamline your trip to the supermarket. Whether you’re shopping alone or with a partner, having an organized list will help ensure you don’t forget essential items or spend too much on unnecessary purchases.
You can even share your list with others, so everyone gets what they need and you don’t have to make multiple trips to the store.
Staying organized with your meal plan is also a great way to stay on track. When creating one for the family, be sure to account for everyone’s preferences and dietary restrictions so everyone has something they all enjoy.
Another time-saving method is to organize your list by aisle. You can find online templates that divide the list into sections like produce, deli, frozen food items and other categories commonly found at grocery stores.
5. Make a list of your favorite restaurants
One of the best ways to simplify meal planning is by making a list of your top restaurants. This could include places you’ve visited previously as well as new places you’d like to try out.
Create a schedule that works for you so that you can stay committed and complete all of your reservations before it’s too late. It could be one new restaurant per day or just different places each week – whatever works best for you!
Create a master list of your favorite dinners, with the recipe name and where it can be found (whether on a website, blog or Pinterest board). This will come in handy when creating weekly meal plans.