Meal planning and meal prep can feel overwhelming if you’re new to it, and believe me, I’ve been there! Here are 7 easy steps any meal planning beginner can sink their teeth into, without feeling totally lost in the process.
When I first started out meal planning, I was confused. I felt ‘tied down’ to some random list of recipes that I had arbitrarily decided on earlier that week. I’d write my meal plan on Saturday, and then by the time I got to Wednesday I would just throw the whole thing out the window and pick up the phone for takeout.
If you’re a meal planning beginner, start with the basics.
(Yep, the first one is ME!) this is one of my favorite posts about meal planning on this site (and I have quite a few!). I break it down, step by step, how I started meal planning and what you can do to get your feet wet, too. Read: My Top Three Meal Planning Basics
Even if the recipes says it’s 30 minutes, figure out the real amount of time it will take.
Shelley, from Two Healthy Kitchens, knows the pain we’ve all felt when dealing with a “super quick omg!” recipe: it doesn’t always take the amount of time it says it will. So, figure out how to “read” a recipe right, work that into your timeframe, and you’ll have a better idea how to plan appropriately. Read: Estimating REAL Prep Times
If you hate writing meal plans, try theme nights.
I love this take from Tracy at Simple Living Country Gal. She says to keep a “go-to” list that she can refer to whenever she’s pressed for time. Don’t have a list written out? Ask your family’s input- they might remind you of a dish you can make super quick! Read: Make Dinner Time Easier Without a Meal Plan
Get your kitchen in order to make things run smoother
Jenny, at the Jenny Evolution, has a great list here of how to get your ducks in a row before you even put pen to paper; after all- what good is a meal plan if you can’t find your ingredients or cookware? Read: Easy Meal Planning For Busy Moms
Start with an easy-to-follow printable to write your meal plan on
Lena, from What Mommy Does, knows the basics of meal planning starts with actually writing the dang thing! I love her simple, easy-to-use meal planning printable with clearly defined spaces. Just click to save and download! Read: Free Printable Weekly Planning Template
When it comes to accommodating different family members, roll with it.
Rachel, at The Mashup Mom, touches on a pain point I think a lot of us have: what to do when your entire family isn’t down with the same eating schedule, diets, or preferences. She spells out steps you can take to mitigate the mess of trying to figure out what to feed everyone.. when everyone has different food needs! Read: How to Modify a Meal Plan for Your Family
Skip the processed stuff and work real food into your meal plan.
Elaina, from The Rising Spoon, has a list of 10 ways you can make sure your meal plan isn’t full of over-processed junk; without taking tons of time out of your week! I love her tip for leftovers (which are my fave, too!) Read: Ten Meal Planning Tips for Beginners Using Real Food
There you have it: 7 awesome tips for meal planning beginners, all designed to help you get groovin’ on your meal planning schedule!
Which was your favorite? I’m excited to get digging into my meal planning routine now! If you want to take a peek into what I’m cooking each week, then join my brand new member community: Busy Mamas Cooking In Tiny Kitchens! Each week I add in my own family meal plan so you can see what I’m cookin’ Also get access to what others are cooking, swap recipes, vent about picky eaters, and more. Leave your info below to join, and I hope to see you there!
YES! Free Meal Planning Kit!
Grab the exact sheets I use to create my meal plans with the handy Meal Planning Bundle! Includes weekly meal plan template, recipe ideas, cheat sheet, and checklist.