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Meal Planning Made Easy – Ultimate Step By Step Guide

by Contributing Author

You can reduce at least one stress in your day by planning your meals. This step-by-step guide will help show you exactly how to plan your meals well, regardless of your situation.

Why should you have a meal plan in the first place?

I recently wrote an article about the benefits of meal planning. This article details why meal plans work so well. Definitely worth reading if you’re wondering why you should have a meal plan in the first place.

Let me ask you a question so that you can easily remember. How many times in the past week have you heard one or all of these he said at home?

“What’s for dinner…?”

“I don’t feel like cooking”

“There’s nothing in the fridge or cupboards…”

Having to think about each meal each day can be time-consuming, stressful, and often increases the time it takes to put food on the table. So it makes sense to have a meal plan.

A little planning did no harm to anyone.

how to plan meals

Because each home, each family, and each situation is different, I always recommend planning your meals in a way that works best for you and your family.

However, as always, there are specific steps you can take depending on your meal plan. As always, I’ll follow my ADORE method, one step at a time.

Let’s get started!

A is the rating:

Step #1 – What are you doing now?

Always start by asking yourself what you are doing now, how it works, what is working and what is not. That way, it’s easier to create and fine-tune your meal plan in the following steps. Take a few minutes to reflect on what you are doing now and keep this in mind in the future.

Step #2 – Decide Which Meals to Plan

Some families only need to plan dinner, while others prefer to include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in their plans. That’s why it’s important to know what kind of meals to plan first.

Step #3 – Check Schedules and Other Information

Understanding the schedules of everyone in your family can help you plan your meals.

Summarize the schedules and schedules you have already written, or write down each person’s schedule on a blank sheet of paper for now.

Your goal is simply to know who is home when.

By the end of this step, you should have the following information:-

  • Who needs daily breastfeeding?
  • What time should everyone eat?
  • What time is available for food preparation and cooking?
  • When can I shop for groceries?
  • Who prepares/cooks/shops?

Tips – Take a piece of plain paper, divide it into 7 sections, one for each day of the week, and add all the required information to each section.

Step #4 – Create a Meal Master List

Then you need to know what kind of meal to cook in each slot. So the first thing to do is write a list of all the meals you are currently cooking.

Next to each meal, also write down the approximate time it takes to cook (fast, medium, long).

Tips – This may seem like a daunting prospect – but in reality, we tend to eat the same things so often that we end up with about 20-30 varieties on our list. You may notice that food is included. It’s always good to have a clear view of what you’re eating and how balanced your diet is.

Tips – If you usually do take-out at night or try new recipes often, it’s a good idea to add these meals to your list as much as possible at this stage as well.

The evaluation stage is now complete. Now you know what days you plan to eat, who you plan to feed, how much time you have to spend preparing meals, and you have a master list of meals.

Now that you have all this information at your fingertips, it’s time to start organizing.

D is Declutter

Step #5 – Organize Your Master List of Meals

Simply go through the master list of meals and remove those that fall into the following categories.

  • food people don’t like
  • A meal you never feel like making (unless you really want to make it now).
  • Meals similar to other meals on the list (avoid duplication where possible)
  • Meals you don’t want to make in the future (e.g. foods you think are unhealthy)

O stands for ORGANIZE

Now the fun begins! – The actual creation of a meal plan – so it’s all in one place.

Step #6 – Decide What Your Meal Plan Will Be

I wrote an article about the different methods you can choose to create a meal plan. Worth reading here for inspiration and ideas. Now is the time to think about how you want to plan your meals.

For example, I choose the 4-week plan with all 3 meals. This gives you the flexibility to choose different breakfasts and dinners. Also, since I work from home most of the time, it’s nice to be able to plan what to eat. Lunch time too. 4 weeks means more variation and the meals he can spread out over 4 weeks so he eats at least once a month etc…

Step #7 – Create a Meal Planner Grid

Along the lines of how you planned in step 6 above, you might want to create some kind of meal planner to write down your choices.

There are many ways to do this, so choose the method that works best for you (a large bulletin board in your kitchen, a chalkboard, paper, etc.). And be as creative as you like. Now this is the fun part.

I like to use printable grids that I create in my home file.

Keeping your meal plan on one sheet like this can be added next to your shopping list behind the cupboard door so it’s accessible and unobtrusive and you can add whatever you need to your shopping list. increase. for next week.

Tips – If you like the idea of ​​working on a four-week schedule, why not plan for each season? That way, each plan can be used several times a year, modified to suit the weather at the time, all done up front.

Step #8 – Add Meals to the Grid

With all the information you had to pass on in the previous steps, adding meals to your meal planner now is relatively easy.

Here are my main tips on things to consider while working:

  1. Combine short meals on days when you don’t have much time to cook, and longer meals on days when you have more time.
  2. Mark when you shop so you know when fresh produce and more are available.
  3. Grouping similar meals together (i.e. all that contain rice) and spreading them out evenly on the planner will result in a more balanced meal.
  4. Think about leftovers/frozen food etc. to save time for the week.
  5. If your family eats tea at different times in the evening, the meal for the day should be a pre-made meal that can be eaten all night, such as a stew.
  6. If you have a school dinner menu, can you ensure that every day your child is served a different dinner than what they had at school?
  7. Why not add an extra day to try something off the menu or try out a new recipe? This is to keep it fresh.
  8. Add take-out nights or freezer nights for those days when you don’t feel like cooking or don’t have time.
  9. If you want to try a new recipe, add the word “new” to your plan on days when you have time to be more adventurous so you can decide what to make closer to that time.

Tips – I like using post-it notes for each meal and can move the notes around according to my plans. Because it takes a few iterations for this to work really well. Use a different color if that helps.

Tips – Work through your meal plan from the beginning to make sure everyone gets what they need when they need it, and that everyone gets a balanced meal at the right time each day. This will help you find areas that need modification, areas where you can use up leftovers, etc.

Above all, make life as easy as possible during this stage. You only have to plan once, and then you can keep doing it as long as you want.

R stands for Real Life

Now is the time to put the plan into action and use it for a few weeks to see the results.

If you’re using the 1-week plan, use it for at least 4 consecutive weeks. If you’re using a four-week schedule, one iteration is enough to see if it works.

Tips – From now on, always plan your shopping with a meal planner on hand – It makes things so much easier as you only buy what you need and use You can also easily check

Tips – Here are some recipes to try – and just work on them on a new day – less to think about

Tips – When cooking, why not be proactive and double the amount of some foods. That way, even if you have a little time on the day, you won’t have to cook from scratch, and you’ll save time and spend your time doing something else. Bonus!

But are you tired of meal plans?

As you write down what you’ve eaten over the past few weeks, you might be surprised at how little variety you actually eat right now.

We are all creatures of habit and we often pick up the same thing from the cupboard every day or the same thing from the supermarket shelf.

Planning your meals ahead of time can change the way you look at them a bit and often make them more varied and interesting in the long run.

E stands for evaluation

We are in the final stages of meal planning. Did you know that it has really saved me time, money and stress over the past few weeks?

Now is the time to take a step back and evaluate your plan.

If anything needs to be adjusted, it may need to be done, and if the schedule changes, the plan may need to be changed accordingly. If the season changes, you may need to add new, more weather-friendly meals (salads in hot weather, cold soups, etc…)

You can add new meals or remove ones your family is tired of. Always change when you get tired of it.

Meal planning shouldn’t be boring.

Meal planning made easy - a step-by-step guide

Meal planning works – why not try it this week and see how it goes…

Also, if you want to fill out your meal planner, try this one (it’s free!).

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