When I mention the phrase “meal-planning” how does that make you feel? Anxious? Stressed out? Overwhelmed or confused? Well, you’re not alone, and I used to feel the same way. Until I discovered a simple solution for the age-old question: How to meal plan?
Today I’m going to share with you the simplest way to meal plan that can be done in just minutes each week, and easy meal planning tips you can begin to use right now. Tips that will have you meal-planning in literally just minutes for the entire week.
If you’re turned off by the concept of meal-planning, or if you’ve tried it before with limited success, don’t worry. I’m going to show you the exact steps I take to eliminate the need for spending a lot of time meal-planning and of course the stress involved with it.
If you’ve done some searching online, you may have noticed that meal-planning can seem like mission impossible, especially if your goal is to put together healthy meals that the whole family can agree upon. And doing it simply never really feels like an option. But before we get into how to meal plan in minutes and eliminate the overwhelm, let’s look at some benefits of meal-planning.
Overcome Last Minute Meal-Planning Battle Fatigue
Getting the whole family to eat nutritious meals when you don’t have a plan can feel like a carnival game where your chances of success are practically nil. When dinner comes around, you find yourself scrambling. You’re not sure what food you have in the house. Everyone wants something different. And after a long day already, decision fatigue starts to set in.
Before you know it, you’re calling for take out or driving up to the fast food window ordering something you’d probably aren’t even in the mood to eat.
Without having a meal plan in place, the chance of your family getting a healthy and nutritious meal is far less likely to occur. Because by that point, all you want is something easy, and something easy is rarely healthy. Unless you plan for easy, which is what I’m going to show you how to do.
Save Money and Eliminate Food Waste
When you don’t meal plan, you’re more likely to make those impulsive decisions like fast food or take out, which not only costs more money but also contributes to wasting food that’s sitting in your fridge. Not to mention the fuel cost of running around to buy those takeout meals.
Fun for the Whole Family
The easy meal-planning tips I’m going to share with you will make everyone in your family feel more empowered because they’ll be involved in the decision-making process. Do you know what some side effects of this will be?
You’ll eliminate those food battles. You’ll reduce food pickiness, which will help if you have young kids. Because they’ll be more involved in the process, you’ll be exposing them to new foods before those foods are even served. Trust me, this is a big deal. Everyone has input; everyone a voice on what dinner should look like.
How to Meal Plan Step by Step
You only need two things – sticky notes and a calendar. And your calendar can be as simple as a printout of the week off your computer. You just need a seven-day span for the next week.
Take out seven sticky notes. Each of these will represent one dinner for next week. Divide them up among your family members so everyone has a say. Write down one dinner idea on each sticky note.
Take each of those sticky notes, and decide as a family where they should go on your seven-day calendar. Maybe Tuesday will be for slow cooker veggie chili, Friday is for fish. Saturday is family pizza night. It doesn’t really matter what days you choose, so long as everyone feels empowered in the process.
Now you can look at your calendar full of sticky notes and know exactly what your family will be eating each day of next week. You’ve made a plan together and everyone has agreed on that plan. You’ve eliminated the meal-time fighting that occurs with last-minute meal-planning and all the stress that comes with it. Now it’s time to make a grocery list.
From your sticky notes, you should have a great idea of all the ingredients you’ll need for each day’s dinner. This will also eliminate those last-minute trips to the store and the impulse purchases that come with those last-minute trips.
For subsequent weeks, you can make meal-planning even easier by simply moving around the sticky notes from the previous week. Think about it, how many different dinners do you really prepare at home? You can toss in some new ideas from time to time, but most of us rely on the same several dinner options, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
What you don’t want, however, is to serve the same thing three nights in a row, and this simple meal-planning strategy can help eliminate that, too. But if you had baked chicken on Monday of this week and schedule it again for Tuesday the following week, that’s eight days in-between. And if you reuse the same sticky notes, that means you’ll need the same ingredients, which will make grocery shopping even simpler.
You’ll know what coupons to look out for. You’ll be able to buy items in bulk, particularly pantry items, and save even more money.
From Trendy to Simple
If you go over to Pinterest and type in meal-planning, you’ll likely see a lot of complicated ideas that will probably make you want to scream, give up, and load the family into the minivan for a trip over to the fast food drive thru. But meal-planning can be simple. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time or effort. And best of all, it can and should be something fun for the whole family.
Trust me, the more you can include your kids in this process, the fewer struggles you’ll face at dinner time. Gives these easy meal-planning tips a try and see if you like them. And spend that extra money and time that you’ll save doing something fun with the family. All the benefits of meal-planning, minus the time, stress, anxiety, and headaches.
To make meal planning even easier, check out this free meal-planning template I created. You can also watch my How to Meal-Plan for the Whole Week video on YouTube or listen to my recent easy meal-planning tips podcast.