Meal Planning 101
There are lots of bloggers who have done a post on this before, and everyone has a slightly different approach.
All I have to say is, if you are planning your meals then you’re already ahead of the game – it doesn’t really matter how you plan, so long as you are planning (see the benefits of meal planning here)!
Having said that, I had some requests for a meal planning post so I’m happy to share my method! (There’s also a PDF planning template at the end of this post that I created for you – yeah, I know, thank me later ;)).
My plan is pretty simple, though I realized after I photographed my notes that many people have difficulty reading my handwriting, so apologies in advance about that.
Let’s get going:
- I plan 4 meals per week, because there’s always things like leftovers, meals out and days when you’re too tired or short on time to do much more than nuke an Amy’s meal.
- Separate out the four weeks of the month and make room for 4 meals to be written, as below.
- I make sure that at least one meal a week is a new recipe I haven’t tried before – but this is because I’m a food blogger and want to keep coming up with recipes to post. If this isn’t a concern for you, then omit this, but it is good to keep changing things up so you’re not eating the same foods again and again!
- On that note, I also leave room at the bottom to plan out 6 snacks and 4 breakfasts for the month, otherwise I get stuck in a rut and eat the same breakfast/snack on the same things over and over again.
*NOTE: You may have noticed I don’t plan my lunches. Just not my thing. I tend to pack leftovers, or get sushi or a salad from the shopping plaza by my work, or just have soup or something light. If you want to plan them, I would suggest planning them like your dinners under a “Lunch” heading.
- I write the name of the dish I’ll be making next to each meal heading.
- From there, I draw an arrow to the side and write down any ingredients that I need to buy from the store in order to make this dish. You might need to leave more room if you anticipate needing a lot of new food for a dish.
- I plan out six snack ideas (trying to make them different from last month, but some favourites just sneak in there – looking at you protein muffin!)
- I highlight any parts of the snack (ingredients) that I need to buy from the store:
- I plan out four breakfast ideas
- Again, I highlight any part of the breakfast I will need to buy from the store:
This way, you pretty much have your grocery list done already. You just write out the items that were to the right of each meal and the highlighted items on a separate piece of paper and voila!
You can just do this plan week by week, but I tend to it for the whole month because I do a huge bulk buy each month. So that’s when I buy all the non-perishable items even for meals that I won’t make until Week 4, like:
- cans of beans, chickpeas etc.
- cartons of Almond Breeze almond milk
- condiments, spices, dried herbs
- baking supplies like gluten-free flours, baking soda/powder, sugars and sweeteners
- jars of nut butters
- grains like oats, quinoa, rice
I do that shop at a place like Costco where the money savings make it worth bulk buying! Especially as a lot of these ingredients (I’m eyeing you nut butter!) can be quite expensive when bought in regular stores.
(Does that image make anyone else’s eyes go funny? So weird.)
This way each week I’m not wasting much time food shopping – I just run to the store for a few items I need, like organic produce and dairy/refrigerated items that are needed.
Grocery shopping in 20 minutes? I’ll take it!
Here’s a link to download my meal planning template in PDF format:
If you want this in Word (so you can customize it) email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For fun, let’s do a poll!
- Any planning tips you want to share?
- Any other planning posts you want to see? I’m always open to suggestions!