I'd like you to meet Kelly! She is a friend of mine who blogs at The Nourishing Home. She has an amazing knack for organized meal planning and eating healthier!
Kelly loves the Lord, her family, and sharing her passion for real food cooking and meal planning with others. She is a full-time homemaker who loves spending time with her awesome hubby and two sweet boys. Kelly's real food journey began six years ago when she was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disorder. Since then, the Lord has blessed her with an amazing recovery - a testament to His grace and the health benefits of eating real food. Kelly shares her knowledge and love for whole food cooking at The Nourishing Home, Facebook and Google.
Did you know that a little organization in the form of a weekly meal plan goes a long way in keeping your family on track for eating healthier? It’s true!
The fact is, meal planning is a wonderful strategy to help families enjoy healthy, home-cooked meals with the awesome added benefit of saving time, money and stress! That’s because meals prepared at home generally contain a greater variety of nutrient-rich foods compared to those found at typical restaurants.
And by making your meals at home, you can significantly save money! A typical take-out meal costs the average family of four about $25. Yet, with this same amount of money, you can actually feed your family three highly nutritious whole food meals, plus healthy snacks too!
So, by learning how to create a weekly meal plan, you’ll not only ensure that your family eats healthier and saves money, but it will also save you time and stress as well. That’s because once you make your meal plan and purchase the necessary ingredients, you can then go on auto-pilot … simply executing the meal plan day-by-day without having to stress over what’s for dinner and without having to make multiple trips to the market.
How to Make a Weekly Meal Plan – Step by Step!
Shown above is an example of a typical meal plan at The Nourishing Home. You can find each of my weekly meal plans (as well as my free meal planning template) by visiting “Mastering Meal Planning.”
For those just getting started with meal planning, I recommend taking it slow. There’s no need to plan out every single meal, if this seems overwhelming. Instead, start with planning just a few meals each week, or planning meals only on the busiest days of the week. And once you see how easy and beneficial meal planning truly is, you’ll most certainly be inspired to add even more meals to your weekly meal plan!
So without further ado … here are my top five tips for Mastering Meal Planning:
1) Create a Master List of Meals
The first step in meal planning is to make a Master List of Meals, which is simply a list of all the meals that you make. Taking time to really think-through this first step will save you a ton of time in the long run – no more racking your brain to try to think of what you should make for the week. Simply look at your Master List of Meals each time you make your weekly meal plan. And, as you start trying new recipes, remember to add the ones your family likes to your Master List of Meals.
2) Check Your Calendar!
Before you start selecting meals for the week ahead, first take a look at what’s happening each day and plan your meals accordingly. On busy days, opt for quick and easy-to-prepare meals, such as crockpot and one-pot meals, easy pasta dishes, grilled/roasted meats, steamed vegetables and salads.
For extra-busy days, schedule a “left-overs night,” where you can simply warm-up a meal from a previous evening. And, be sure to save new recipes, or more complicated meals, for weekends or days when you’ll have more time.
3) Create Your Meal Plan
First, check your pantry and frig to see what you already have on hand and be sure to plan for meals that utilize these ingredients. Then, grab your Master List of Meals and your calendar and get started!
Again, even planning a few meals a week, or planning meals for just the busiest days of the week, will go a long way in helping you stay on track with your healthy-eating goals and budget, as well as save you time and stress!
4) Make a Shopping List
“The List” is your prime directive at the market, to keep you focused and save you time and money by limiting distractions. The List ensures you quickly get exactly what you need for the week ahead.
Make your meal plan for the week and then go through each meal and list out all the ingredients needed to create that meal. Be sure to check to see what you already have on hand. Any missing ingredients go on The List.
Keep a pad of paper on your kitchen counter and jot down items as you run out of them so they can quickly and easily be added to The List.
5) Schedule A Prep Day
Just an hour or two over the weekend can go a long way in making things quicker and easier for you during the week ahead!
Use your prep day to accomplish tasks such as:
• Cutting and dividing meat into portions based on your meal plan and place in marinades and refrigerate or freeze
• Precook and freeze ground meat for use in meals like tacos, chili, soups, etc.
• Chop any veggies/fruits needed for recipes (that can keep well once chopped) such as salads for the week ahead.
• Prepare anything that can be prepared ahead of time, e.g. grate cheese, make salad dressings or sauces, etc. and store them in the fridge or freezer for the week ahead.
And during the week, you can still be prepping ahead by doing time-saving steps such as batch cooking, which is covered in my post “Cook Once, Eat Twice or More.”
Bonus Tip: Get the Kids Involved!
Cooking with your kids is not only fun and educational – it’s also a great way to encourage them to expand their culinary horizons, since kids are more likely to eat what they help make. So as you’re planning out your weekly meals, have the kids chime in with some ideas about what to put on the menu, and have them join you in the kitchen. You’ll be amazed at the difference this will make in reinforcing and building healthy eating habits that last a lifetime!
For more healthy meal planning strategies, as well as free weekly whole food meal plans and recipes, please visit The Nourishing Home.
Like what you see here? Consider becoming a follower or subscribe via email! Are you an Organized Reader? I'd love to see your organized space. Email me HERE and show me your space to possibly be featured as one of my Organized Readers.
Connect with me: