Creating a weekly meal plan can be fun, simple and super functional. Let me show you how! By devoting just a few minutes of your day to planning out your meals, you’ll be much more prepared and organized throughout the week. To make things even easier, check out our FREE weekly meal planner!
I’ve been meal planning since the first few months of my marriage. At the start of our marriage I was also working full time which made cooking much more challenging. I felt like I couldn’t put a decent, well thought out meal onto the table because my days were so busy. So, my solution was to meal plan! I also wanted to honor our budget, so this was a great way to be able to do that as well.
Something I also really wanted to overcome was food waste. It seemed like my portion sizes were either way too big or not enough. Getting to the end of a week and having so many leftovers that would ultimately go bad was disappointing for me. Especially when I saw that grocery money coming out of our account each week. After a few months I was able to gauge how much food we actually ate in a week. Then, I was able to practically meal plan in a way that used up all we bought.
If you’re feeling defeated by the time, money and energy that cooking or grocery shopping can be, you can change that right now! I’ll tell you how to create a simple meal plan in just a few easy steps. You’ll truly fall in love with the grocery shopping and cooking process in no time.
Why create a weekly meal plan?
While the reasons for creating a weekly meal plan may vary person to person, I do believe there’s a few that could be true for everyone.
- It saves time. Have you ever spent one too many minutes trying to figure out what to make for dinner? Or, have you gone on Pinterest to find a good recipe only to scroll for 30 minutes because you can’t decide on something? I certainly have! Instead, you can sit down for a few minutes at the start of the week and gather all recipes ahead of time. This will eliminate that hectic rush for dinner on weeknights.
- It can save you money. Throughout the first few months of my marriage I found that I was consistently overspending. While grocery shopping, I would see multiple ingredients and think “Oh, I could do something with that.” Well, that became a problem because I was buying more than what we actually needed. Unfortunately, things would end up going bad. I would also buy more at the start of a new week instead of getting creative with the ingredients I already had. Meal planning has helped me to stay on top of our budget and get the most out of our money!
- It keeps you organized. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my brain feels so scattered. Keeping track of what to make for dinner can be hard! Whenever I have exactly what I’m making written down I feel much more prepared and organized. Then I know I planned for that recipe in advance and I have everything that’s needed available.
- It keeps you creative. Since you’ll be writing down what you’ll be making, you get to see how often you make a certain meal. Maybe your family really likes one thing so you stick to that. That’s fine! On the other hand, it’s a good opportunity to get creative. Being able to visualize what a week of meals will look like helps you to make sure there’s variety in your meals.
- It’s convenient for grocery shopping. Going to the grocery store without a list can be chaotic. Personally, if I do that I will definitely walk out forgetting something important. However, when I know what I’m going to be making then I can make a list of everything I need ahead of time. This will eliminate the quick trips to the store, saving me time and gas money. My grocery trips are still fun for me, yet much more efficient.
Helpful tools for creating a meal plan
To make your weekly meal plan super easy, we’ve created a FREE weekly meal planner. This is one of the best ways to make your meal planning effective. You’re able to stay organized by writing out the meals for each day and making a list of groceries!
It would also be helpful to have a monthly, weekly or daily planner. Actually, we have one of those too! You can grab you FREE October planner HERE! Knowing your schedule week to week is a tremendous help when it comes to meal planning.
Finally, grab your pen or pencil and you’re ready to go!
How to weekly meal plan in 5 easy steps
- See what’s already in your fridge and pantry. The key to saving money and having less food waste is to use up what you already have! Take a mental note of what ingredients you already have available. Maybe you can make a full meal out of last week’s groceries. That’s great! Now is the time to take note of that.
- Add the necessities. Here’s where the grocery list starts. Write down things that you need every week without fail. For my family, this would be lunch items, eggs and milk. These are things that you definitely need to buy every week.
- Look at your schedule. Before you begin planning meals, you need to take a look at your schedule. You’re going to want to know how much time you can devote to cooking each day. If there’s a really busy day then maybe you want to make enough the day before to have leftovers. Or, if you have a day off this could be a good time to try something new! Crockpot meals are also super helpful for busy seasons as well as the fall months!
- Get creative with your meals. This is the fun part. You can start planning meals! By looking at the ingredients you already have, come up with 3-4 meals that you can make. Try to do this without needing to buy many new ingredients. Searching for recipes online or on Pinterest is a great way to find new ideas! I’d also suggest only making between 3-4 meals a week with enough to have leftovers for the days you’re not cooking. Also, be sure to honor your budget by being mindful of how much you’ll have to buy for each recipe.
- Finish your grocery list. Now, you’ve seen what you already have at home, checked out your schedule and planned out your meals. It’s time to finish the grocery list! Using the recipes you’re going to make, add the needed ingredients to your grocery list. If you’re into coupons and discounts, now is the time to see what deals you can find! It doesn’t matter wether you do this on paper and physically go shopping or you create your shopping cart online for pickup or delivery.
A few easy meals to use in a week
If you’re looking for some easy meals to add into your meal plan, here’s a few suggestions!
You’re all set!
Trust me, meal planning is quite easy and convenient once you get into the habit of doing it. It changed my cooking game and I promise it will change yours too if you let it. I’m someone who loves being organized so I don’t have to worry about more than I have to. If you’re anything like me then I know you’ll love adding meal planning to your schedule.
The best time to do this is the day before/morning of your grocery shopping. Just set aside 5-10 minutes to get everything put onto paper! Also, don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of our weekly meal planner!!
Let us know what you found helpful about this post in the comments below! If you used our weekly meal planner, tell us what you thought! Be sure to stay tuned for more DIY, homemaking and housekeeping content!