How to Meal Plan


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Meal Planning…Some people run at the sound of those words!

But meal planning does not have to be hard and there are lots of different ways to do it. For me, meal planning is easier to control and plan when school is in session. Summer months are just too crazy for the planning of weekly meals. Meals should be fun, easy, and enjoyable both to prepare and to eat. Meal planning can take up time when first starting out as you’ll have to go through those endless recipes and/or binders to figure out what meals you want to cook, what your family likes, and on what days you can prepare those meals.

Meals shouldn’t be complicated, take hours to prep, or be loaded down with a lot of ingredients. Doing more complicated meals is okay on occasion and for holidays. However, if you prepared meals like this often, you’d get burned out pretty quickly and not stick with the routine. Trust me! I’ve been there and done that. Meal planning is a routine. And as any routine goes, it takes practice and consistency to keep going. Once you’ve written out one week, two weeks, or a month, you’ll eventually get the hang of it and it won’t take as long to prepare the next one.

One of the first things to consider when meal planning is your family’s schedule. I keep my meal plans in our color-coded family planner. This way, when I plan my meals, I can plan around any activities that we may have during a particular week or month. I try to plan mine a month at a time but sometimes, I can only get a week ahead as I don’t know what the next week’s schedule will look like just yet. As you can see, I tried planning my days around various appointments and baseball.


Once you get your family planner ready, then you can start rummaging through your freezer and pantry (if you don’t already know what meats and other foods you have on hand), and plan meals with many of the staple items you already have. Meal planning will be easier in the beginning if you can utilize the foods you currently have on hand. For instance, in our freezers, we are loaded down with fresh pig, cow, deer, and fish. The only meat I have to purchase every month or two is chicken and shrimp, and I do this in bulk from Costco. So, when I made my meal plan out for the month of September, I tried to mentally go through the meats and vegetables/sides I know we have. I know that at some point, there may be an ingredient or two that I am missing and if that is the case, then I add those few items to my grocery list to pick up at my next visit.

There is no need to stock up on the entire meal plan for the month at one time. Sometimes you can buy the staples (i.e. green beans, potatoes, etc.) in bulk or for the month, but other items such as fresh vegetables and fruits you can’t, as they’ll spoil before you can use them. If possible, depending on how you plan your meals, buy the items you need one or two weeks at a time. This will save you time and money as you won’t be wasting food.

Sometimes, I find it easier if I have ‘theme’ days to my meal planning. For instance, on Tuesdays, I reference it as ‘Taco Tuesday’ and then some Fridays are ‘Fishy Fridays.’ You can change these things up if you want and do ‘Mexican Monday,’ ‘Take-Out Tuesday,’ ‘Whatever Wednesday,’ etc. Just play with your calendar and your foods and come up with your own themes. Remember, you can change the themes week to week or month to month. And just because you have a ‘Taco Tuesday’ doesn’t mean that you have to eat tacos Every.Single.Tuesday. Change it up. For instance, we will have a chicken burrito bowl made by the crock pot, and bean quesadillas, or you can go simple and have chicken fajita salads. Healthy, colorful, and delicious! Don’t be stuck to just tacos because it is ‘Taco Tuesday!’

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Have fun with your planning and your food! Meal planning is a good way to try out all those new and mouth-watering recipes that you pin constantly to Pinterest or share on Facebook. Don’t be scared to try something new to you or your family. If you make something new, and they don’t like it, mark it off in your plan and don’t put it back in the rotation. Rotation of food is one of the reasons why I keep my meals in a planner. By doing this, I can see what we have and have not had recently so we don’t keep eating the same foods all the time. That is one thing that I do not like to do. I like variety. Soups, especially during the winter months, become almost a weekly item in the menu line-up, but those can all be different too!

Finally, don’t worry if something comes up and you don’t get to do your planned meal for that day. Simply cook that meal the next day, or if it is something that you can skip because the menu items won’t spoil, then just skip it and add it back in at a later date. You DO NOT have to lock yourself into it because it is written down on paper.

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You’re a mom. Life happens. Plans change.  So don’t fret over it and move on. Once you plan for a while, it will become easier and help make you, mom, a little less stressed. Who knows, you may even have time to prepare an extra treat for those littles…


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