Meal Planning!!! It can be a HUGE drag but is SO VERY IMPORTANT.
As wives and moms, we choose what foods we bring into our homes and what our families eat. And it can be so overwhelming figuring out how to plan meals for everyone that are affordable, healthy, and delicious.
Here is a Beginners Guide To Meal Planning that won’t overwhelm you or over complicate the entire process. I hope it is a help to you.
If mama is craving sugar, the family eats sugar
If mama is craving carbs, the family eats carbs
Do you see where I’m going with this?
When we first got married I had NO idea how to grocery shop or meal plan. We typically considered grocery shopping a date night and we would wander around the store throwing random foods in the basket.
Which usually resulted with us back at the grocery a few short days later. Not to mention eating junk food because we didn’t plan ahead.
Fast forward seven years as a mom of three littles, I’ve learned the importance of making wise food choices IN THE STORE before it even enters your home.
If you grab cookies, your kids are going to eat them. If you grab apples, your kids are going to eat them.
Once you have kids, life starts to get real and you start to realize that your choices affect them in every way.
I’m still no expert at meal planning, but I have learned a few tips that will help take the stress out of it. I’ll share below.
But first! I created the perfect minimalist meal play just for you! Click here to get your FREE download!
I wanted to talk a little bit about the importance of meal planning.
Why It’s Important To Plan Your Meals For The Week
“The battle of eating healthy is won in meal planning and grocery shopping.”
Meal planning = Boring
Meal planning = EVERYTHING!
Meal Planning Is Time Efficient
Grocery shopping without a plan takes much more time and is really frustrating. Especially when you’re grocery shopping with 3 kids under 4.
When we get in the store, it’s go time. I don’t have time to look up recipes and try to figure out what the heck we are going to eat the next few days all while my kids try to kill each other or run into my Achilles heal with their mini kid cart. Which has happened more times than you would believe.
Meal planning also saves time when it comes to preparing dinner. You don’t have to figure out what to cook because it’s already on the schedule.
Meal Planning Is Cost Effective
When you meal plan and create a grocery list based on that meal plan, you know exactly what items to get and aren’t just throwing ingredients in your cart hoping for the best. Since you know exactly what to buy, you won’t waste money on food that is not going to be used or doesn’t make sense for the rest of your groceries.
Meal Planning Means Less Wasted Food
I cannot stand the feeling of throwing away unused food. It makes me cringe. Meal planning helps you make smart decisions instead of grabbing random veggies you hope to eat but end up going old in your refrigerator drawer.
Meal Planning Supports Healthier Choices
I will typically make my meal plan at the beginning of the week when I’ve already started the week strong with a tall glass of water and a good workout. I am much more likely to be able to plan healthy meals when I am feeling healthy rather than when I’m hungry and just running to the store to pick up something for dinner. Once buy healthy ingredients, you are much more likely to prepare and eat them.
Meal Planning Alleviates Stress Out Of Your Day
It’s a really great feeling when my husband asks “what’s for dinner?” at the beginning of the day and I have an answer. And there is no worse feeling than him asking me “what’s for dinner?” thirty minutes before we’re supposed to eat and not having an answer.
It is nice to start each day knowing what you intend on making for dinner and not have to think about it until it’s time to prepare it.
Now that I’ve convinced you that meal planning really is the bomb.com, I will share my simple tips on how to get started meal planning.
Beginner’s Guide To Meal Planning
1. Become Very Clear On What You Want Your Family To Eat (think big picture)
You need to decide what kind of foods you want your family to eat. Of course, you need to take into consideration any dietary restrictions or allergies, but you need to also think of what kind of foods you want in your home.
You are what you eat.
Literally, every single thing you put in your mouth is broken down and formed into cells that become the physical make up of your body. So what do you want to be? And what do you want your kids to be?
Typically the wife makes those choices. So you need to really be aware that when you bring home junk, that is what you are choosing to put inside your little ones tummies.
2. Purchase A Cookbook That Is Specific To Your Family’s Dietary Needs
I made the mistake of only using Pinterest for recipes when we were first married. While Pinterest does have thousands of amazing recipes it’s really hard to come up with what to make and then go find a recipe. I use the Whole 30 Cookbook because it contains tons of delicious recipes with healthy substitutes and most of them are super easy to make.
We don’t always eat the whole 30 but I do try to eliminate gluten, sugar, and dairy as much as possible during the week especially. If you think we’re fancy don’t…. We love pizza, hamburgers, and coke as much as anyone else. But we try to save that for the weekend.
You can find a cookbook for any food restrictions you have. Here are a few below….
- The Whole 30
- Weight Watchers
3. Pick 5 Simple Go-To Meals
As you start to develop what type of foods you want to eat, create a list of your top five simple recipes. I typically use this list when I am going to have a busy week, coming off of a holiday slump, or just getting back from vacation. These recipes should be easy, cheap, and within your preferred diet. That way in a pinch it is easy to reset after a crazy week. My top five favorite recipes are listed below…..
Roasted Chicken and Veggies
Brats and Sauteed Veggies
Turkey Burger With Lettuce Wrap
4. Make It A Habit To Incorporate One Or Two New Recipes Each Week
I usually just do one new recipe each week (ok let’s be real, every other week) because I don’t love cooking. The only reason I even made this rule is that I pretty much make the above recipes every single week and my husband gets sick of them sometimes. I am the type of person that could eat the same thing every day until I die and my husband likes a variety. We meet in the middle ;-P
I typically scroll through The Whole 30 recipes book to pick a new meal to make and will sometimes have my husband pick one. Or if I see something on Pinterest that looks tasty, I’ll save it to my board and add it to the list for the week.
5. Let The Planning Begin
I start meal planning by taking out my planner and writing a meal in each day of the week block. I like paper and pen so I use a paper planner but I know a lot of people like to use an app. I usually only plan five meals because weekends are hit and miss and we typically have plenty of leftovers to go round. I will also make breakfast for dinner one night per week and that is usually just omelets, oatmeal, or pancakes.
6. Generate Your Shopping List Based Off The Meal In Your Planner
As I add a meal to each day of the week in my planner, I use the app on my phone to write down each ingredient I need for each meal. I try to keep them in categories to make grocery shopping more efficient. I also keep this list ongoing throughout the week and add anything we run out of like toothpaste or toilet paper.
These tips will be trial and error for sure so don’t get discouraged if you feel overwhelmed when getting started.
Don’t forget to get the perfect minimalist meal plan! Click here to get your FREE download!
Good luck, and I’d LOVE to hear how your first meal planning adventure goes!
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If you found this article helpful, I would LOVE for you to leave a comment and let me know 🙂