Do you have a plan?
Knowing how to plan and prepare meals for your family is a dying art. Instead of dinner being a destination for families, a planned event to look forward to at the end of every day, dinner is often an afterthought that leaves parents scrambling to put food on the table — or to put the kids in the car and head to the nearest drive-thru window.
If making healthy, home-cooked meals is a priority for you (and it should be!), you can’t just hope it will somehow fit into your day. You have to put in the effort to make it happen — and you do that by making a plan.
Meal planning (or menu planning) allows you to not only have meals mapped out in advance, it will ensure that you have all the fresh, healthy ingredients you need before you need them. By planning ahead and cooking from scratch at home, you can save hundreds of dollars each month and get healthier at the same time. It may seem like a lot of work, but the truth is, this one act will simplify everything else you do for the rest of the week.
The 5 steps for successful meal planning
- Get out your calendar. Take a look at your upcoming week and see what’s on the agenda. See if any activities may get in the way of dinner, such as an outing or event that may require you to plan something quick or eat leftovers. This will help you decide what to make and when.
- Choose your recipes. Go through your cookbooks or search the Internet for recipes, or select some of your tried-and-true family favorites. Recipes with few items and basic ingredients will be cheapest and easiest to prepare, but don’t skimp on the healthy stuff. Be sure to add plenty of plant-based whole food ingredients to make your dishes nutritious, filling, and satisfying.
- Write your chosen meals down. Keeping track of your menu can be as simple as sticking a piece of paper on the fridge, or you could try an online meal planning tool. Whichever method you choose, be sure you put your menu where everyone can see it.
- Make a grocery list. Study your recipe ingredients, then go through your fridge, freezer and pantry to see which ingredients you already have. Put the ingredients you don’t have onto your shopping list. Add to it the basic essentials, such as milk and bread, as well as any healthy snacks or other non-food items you will need that week. If you want to keep your pantry or your food storage stocked, add a few additional items for long- term storage to each trip.
- Go shopping. Be sure to stick to your list and avoid impulse purchases to stay on task and within your budget. For more tips on keeping your grocery budget under control, click here.
More tips, tricks, and helpful hints
To see how I put this meal plan into action, here’s behind-the-scenes look at how I make this work in my real life:
For ideas on sticking to a grocery budget, check out these posts:
- Tips for keeping your grocery budget under control
- 10 more tips for keeping your grocery budget under control
For help setting up your plant-based kitchen and going grocery shopping, go here:
For tips and tricks to help you get cooking, read this:
For more meal planning help, a thorough, step-by-step eGuide is coming soon!
READY FOR THE FINAL STEP?
Move on to step 3, taking charge of your family’s nutrition and getting everyone on board. Then, browse my recipe recommendations and blog for more knowledge and inspiration. To stay in the loop and receive up-to-date information and the latest recipes, follow my blog (using the button on the right ⇒).
6 thoughts on “Meal Planning”
Uh oh. The “online meal panning tool” link is to a site that names 5 food group, 2 of which are Milk and Dairy and Meat and Beans. Humans are better off not consuming cow’s milk products or meat.
Yeah, I took a gamble on that one. There are some great plant-based meal planning tools out there (Happy Herbivore has one) but they’re for a fee. I wanted to offer my readers something free and easy, so I went with that.