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Beginners Guide to Meal Planning

Jan 3, 2021

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Never again will you dread the question, "What's for dinner?"

Research shows that everyday we make almost 200 decisions about food! Do you have the will power to make the right choice EVERY time? Set yourself up for success by planning out your meals a week at the time.

Before you tackle menu planning, you may want to refer to the related posts below to make sure you have the basic food requirements met. Then cross check and and start your plan by looking over basic food categories to target healthy foods to fit the lifestyles and health of everyone you will be feeding.

Putting meals on the table has never been easier. Our process is simple, and will save you both time and money. Here's how to start meal planning like an expert!

Download Our Free Menu Planner

One Week Meal Plan Example.jpg

 

Step 1: Define a Timeframe

Before you start researching recipes, decide just how many meals you need to plan for. Our family is together and at "home" pretty much 24/7 but we also only eat 2 meals a day; your routine is probably quite different! Define the timeframe of your plan and how many meals your plan will cover.

 

Step 2: Survey the Fridge & Pantry

Do you have a couple dozen eggs that are about to expire? Are your pantry shelves overflowing with canned tomatoes? Focus on recipes that include those ingredients to maximize what you have on hand.

 

Step 3: Check the Sales

Create menus and meals based upon what's on special that week or month. Hint: stock up and store or freeze special-priced items and family favorites when possible as storage room and your budget allows. Check local grocery store flyers for mega sales that can trim down your grocery bill. If you know you want tacos, for example, pick a protein based on what’s on sale.

 

Step 4: Keep it Real

For your meal plan to work, manage your own expectations! If you know Thursdays are hectic, don't plan a complex from-scratch meal for that night. There's nothing wrong with sticking with tried and true staples on nights like that. Remember, sticking with your plan is what is most important.

 

Step 5: Put Pencil to Paper

Now, you've reached the fun part - planning your menu! Armed with what you have on hand, knowing what's on sale, and just how many of meals you are going to need, it's time to login to Pinterest and pick the recipes that check all those boxes. Download Our Free Menu Planner!

Write the name of each dish in the designated meal in your plan and stick the completed product on the fridge. Such an easy-to-see spot will let the whole the family know what to they will eating, when. Plus, it serves a reminder to eat at home instead of ordering a pizza.

Hold on - no Netflix just yet! Now that your plan is complete, you need to create a shopping list and then hit the store.

 

Pro Tips:

Experiment! First, some foods may be advertised a certain way, but that doesn't mean you can't shake things up a bit. For instance, eggs and sausage can be served for dinner, not just breakfast. And waffles can be savory as well as made from healthy wheat grains and eaten for lunch with fresh fruits instead of sugary syrup for breakfast.

Add variety and enlist others in meal prep. Have other family members jump in and prepare meals some nights or on weekends. Kids enjoy making macaroni and cheese, so plan mac-n-cheese night on Wednesdays, for example. Alternate different vegetable and protein combinations, colors and textures to vary the menu on a weekly basis (no need to let boredom take over on Wednesdays with the same routine!)

Single portion leftovers cluttering the fridge? Have a "Friday Fridge Sweep". In our home everyone gets to pick their favorite leftover and have it with a side salad. This is a great way to clear out small portions that have collected through out the week!

Download Our Free Menu Planner

You don't have to rely on will power to get you through - every day, with every one of those 1,400 weekly food decisions. Lay out your menu for the week and set yourself up for success, the 1% way.

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