Beginners Guide to Meal Planning

Meal Planning

I have talked about it and talked about it and now I am finally going to DO IT!

I am going to be a Meal Planner!

Those of you that know me, know that I can’t do anything without trying to get a good giggle out of it…I mean if you can’t laugh in life then what are you going to do??

So in order to make Meal Planning fun I decided it needed a “catchy name”….if you missed the HUGE image above that has it…well here it is:

M.I.L.F : Meals I’d Like to Freeze!

Hehe…it’s okay to laugh!

I’m a complete NEWB to meal planning and figure that I’m most likely not alone in that why not share what I learn as I learn so other people can learn with me right?

So before I start on how to meal plan, let’s figure out the more important: Why to meal  plan!

  •  People who meal plan tend to save money! 

I’m not sure why this is, but I believe it has something to do with shopping with a purpose. I know that when I go grocery shopping and have no clue what I’m going to cook I end up getting a little bit of everything. We try to “shop the sales” (I’m not a coupon-er…at least not yet.) and purchase things that can be frozen or have a long shelf life. But we still end up spending quite a bit of money…and if I’m honest some foods do “go to waste”.

  • Waste less food!! 

I kind of just said that huh? Oh well can’t hurt to say it again…you will not be throwing as much unused food out when you shop with a plan in mind! Don’t forget if you are doing a Freeze It Meal Plan you are going to throw out even less!

  • Saves time!

This happens two ways. 1: shopping doesn’t take nearly as long when you have a strict list you are going by. This means you check your sales papers, check your list and get what you need! 2: How many hours a week do we spend worrying about what to feed our family? I mean seriously…I can’t even begin to explain the amount of time I spend standing in front of an open fridge or cabinet hoping something will “come to me”.

  • Eat healthier!

When you take the time to sit down and plan out your meals you are a lot more likely to choose a well balanced meal. Having a meal plan also helps to stop you from making those last minute choices of the dreadful “fast food” that is everywhere and very little of it is healthy!

  • Less STRESS!

This is probably my favorite reason to meal plan. Not having to worry day in and day out what I’m going to cook. Will I have the ingredients I need for what I want to make? With meal planning and shopping with a list this isn’t an issue any more!

There you have it! A few reasons you SHOULD be meal planning!

Now what?

How do I get started??

Some people meal plan every meal of the day…I’m only going to be doing dinner!

1. Choose a planning method:

  • Computer- This method can be done a few different ways. I think my favorite is using Pinterest. Basically you would just create a folder for the week and pin the meals you want to cook. Then make your ingredient list from there.

You could also do the offline version by using a word document or excel sheet to plan out your meals.

Heck there are even sites dedicated to meal planning…just google it! 🙂

  • Notebook- I think this is what I’m going to be doing. I want to make my own meal planner (hopefully I will be able to put it up for you guys if you want it once it’s done) and keep my plans and recipes printed in a notebook in the kitchen. I’m not a great cook and really need a recipe right in front of me to help me make it edible lol I mean, I would have to poison my family while I learn to cook! 

Again, if you don’t want to make your own and mine isn’t up when you need it..just google it! There are a TON of freebies out there!

2. Look at the calendar & start filling in dinners:

Pretty self explanatory I think…but just in case you need a little nudge-

Think about the upcoming week. Are there any events that will interfere with dinner? If so, will you HAVE to eat out or is a crock pot meal that can cook all day without you the answer?

I like to start by asking everyone to pick one meal they really want to eat this week. With us have 3 people able to give ideas it takes away even more stress from me! I want to try to add in one new thing a week and let the rest be easy-peasy type things! Who needs the stress of trying to be a gourmet chef when we are so far from it?

Don’t forget that you need to plan the FULL MEAL. Not just the main dish. This means finding sides that will balance out your meal to make it super yummy and healthy!

3. Recipes:

How is each meal made?

Pinterest is your friend!

Look online at places like Pinterest,, food blogs…whatever!

Call a your mom or a friend or grandma and get the recipe.

Do whatever you need to do to get the full ingredient list and recipe for each of the meals you chose.

4. Make your ingredients list:

Start one meal at a time. It may seem overwhelming at first to figure out all those recipes and ingredients but if you have a good planning method it’s not too bad at all!

Once you have the ingredients for each recipe written down you need to go through and check to see if you have what you need, if not add any missing items to your grocery list.

Before you go shopping make sure that you add in your non-dinner items that you need to get through the week. Basically, whatever you want to have for breakfast, lunch and snacks!

That’s it! You now have your meal plan and are ready to go shopping and get preparing!

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