Let’s look at 3 Keys to Successful Meal Planning! We all know that meal planning can be both fun and frustrating. It takes thought, preparation and purposeful planning. However, keep in mind that the pay off is definitely worth every effort.
I want you to be successful at preparing nutritious meals for themselves and their family. The process is simple and can be easy once you implement these 3 keys to successful meal planning.
Key #1 – Take inventory!
- Begin with the pantry: make a note of the items you have in stock. Any expired items need to be tossed in the trash or compost. Food items that would be considered non-nutritious should be taken out of the pantry. Items I look for in my pantry: gluten-free oats, organic peanut butter, coconut milk, Bragg’s Vinaigrette, coconut flour, tapioca flour, organic sunflower seeds, and my home canned fruits, veggies, meat and broth.
- Next inspect your refrigerator: Go shelf by shelf and take out any expired or moldy items. Look to see what items will need to be restocked for the week ahead; orange juice, cheese, eggs, vegetables, fruit and meat. I like to keep a running list on the side of the refrigerator to aid with making my weekly grocery list.
Key #2 – Creating the Menu! I like to menu plan for four weeks at a time. I have several meal ideas that can be rotated in or out depending on our schedule and the time of year. If you are new to menu planning, I would begin with making a list of meals.
- What fresh veggies, fruit and meat does your family like to eat?
- Look up healthy recipes on the internet and print them off. Check the recipe section of this blog for ideas.
- If you have cookbooks that use real ingredients, (not boxed or already prepared foods), go through those and mark the recipes your family would enjoy trying.
Let’s look at 7 days worth of menu planning for my family! I do not usually menu plan for the weekday lunches. We have leftovers from the previous day with at least 2-4 steamed or raw vegetables.
- Breakfast – fried eggs & bacon
- Lunch – Crock Pot Venison Roast w/onions, carrots, cabbage, radishes, sunchokes & 1 potato
- Dinner – Leftovers (Whatever you can find!)
- Breakfast – scrambled eggs, slice of raw cheese, chicken sausage
- Dinner – fresh fish (lake perch), butternut squash fries, stir-fry vegetables, Against the Grain baguette
- Breakfast – Breakfast Bacon & Brussel Sprouts *
- Dinner – Cheese venison burgers served with cauliflower rice, steamed peas (1 whole wheat bun for my husband)
- Breakfast – Cheesy Vegetable Omelets *
- Dinner – Roasted Chicken and Vegetables *
- Breakfast – Fried eggs & organic pork sausage
- Dinner – Homemade Chicken and Quinoa Soup (served with cheese rolls) *
- Breakfast – Plantain pancakes w/homemade blueberry sauce
- Dinner – Pizza, kale chips, * salsa, plantain chips. (We use Chebe Pizza Mix for the crust.)
- Breakfast – Finnish Pancakes *
- Dinner – Chicken taco salad (Chicken taco made in the crock pot)
I look for meals that are easy to prepare and can be cooked in the crock pot on those super busy days. It is also important to be able to purchase the ingredients easily.
Key #3 – Designate a day to grocery shop!
What day of the week works best for you to grocery shop?
- Pick a day of the week and then set a time. (For example, I like to shop on Mondays around 10am.). I reserve the time in my day planner each week.
- Create your grocery list the day before you shop. You’ll need your menu in front of you. This is where taking inventory of the pantry and refrigerator goods is helpful. (Another time saving tip; write the grocery items in the order you shop for them in the grocery store.) Try to shop mostly around the edges of the store, venturing down an aisle for an occasional item.
- Purposeful shopping. Stick to your list! Their might be exceptions if you find an item you regularly use is on sale. If the savings is significant I will purchase more. In my opinion it’s not worth going over your weekly budget for a savings of a few cents. I look at the sales flyer or sale tag closely.
This colorful grocery list template might be helpful for you! It is free to download and use. I’ll share another free grocery list printable.
Follow the 3 Keys to Successful Meal Planning and you’ll be saving time, money, and serving healthier meals and snacks. I have to remind myself to take inventory of the food I currently have, then prepare my menu, and lastly prepare the grocery list. Every Sunday I plan my week and I include these steps for success!
Eventually, you will be forming a lifelong habit and be a success at planning your meals.
Please subscribe to my email list to be notified when more menu plans are released. I would enjoy sharing menu plans with you!
Take a deep breath and know you will be purposeful and successful!