If you read only one post on this entire site(which I hope you read and enjoy them all) but if I had to pick only one for you it would hands down be this one! You are going to get the full scoop on how to create your very own meal plan and be successful at it. Are you familiar with meal planning? If not, no worries just get your pen and paper out- it’s about to get exciting y’all!
Being prepared is the KEY ingredient to real food. Do you ever find yourself asking what are we going to have for dinner tonight? Or even worse “we don’t have anything so I guess I will just pick something up”, which usually consist of a drive thru line or not so healthy take out. With a little inspiration and some simple meal planning tips I promise you will no longer have to ask that dreaded question of “whats for dinner” or resort to those drive through lines.
I am about to walk you through my weekly meal planning routine. I may not be organized in any other aspects of my life, it just happens when you are in the midst of raising tiny humans, but I am proud to say when it comes to food and my kitchen I am totally on top of my game! The great thing about meal planning is you can plan to suite your family’s specific needs and preferences. It can be whatever you want it to be and done however you want it to be done. There is no right or wrong way to meal plan. Whether you have a cute little tabbed binder(guilty) or you just write chicken scratch on the back of a receipt,  It’s your system. Sometimes I get to sit down in my dining room and sip hot tea while I meal plan, and other weeks I’m doing it in the bathroom floor while kids are yelling and jumping in the tub like crazy people. Either way I have my system and I get it done!
So let’s get started.
 

Routine Questions:

  • Am I out of any pantry staples, spices, or cooking oils? The last thing I want to do is run to the grocery store to get olive oil or realize I’m out of chili powder when chili is on the menu.
  • What is on sale this week? Maybe I could base a couple of meals around sale items to save money. This is a great strategy for meats since organic and grass-fed meats are higher ticket items. *A way that my family saves money is by having meat only 2-3 times a week. We substitute more grains & veggies in place of larger portions of meat and I have found that makes a big difference.
  • Also do I have any coupons I could put towards this purchase?
  • Did anyone have a special request for a particular meal this week? If not I will try to pick a few favorites for each person and rotate them into the menu.
OK so now that all those questions are answered lets get to looking up some delicious, homemade recipes that you are going to whip up like the top chef you never knew you were. JK – you totally do not have to be top chef level to cook tasty homemade meals. But you may feel like one after its all said and done. Bravo!!

My Basic Strategy:

  • You have access to thousands of amazing recipes. Resources are unlimited. I sit down each week with my favorite cookbooks(you can find those here) and laptop – mainly on my Pinterest recipe board. I also have a few favorite go-to websites that I have stored in my brain over the past few years. So now that we have the set up, I like to plan for just five nights instead of seven, Monday through Friday. The reason for this is I don’t want to over plan. Over planning leads to wasting food which ultimately means wasting money. Normally the weekends are for whatever we have left over in our fridge or simply a cereal night! I don’t know about y’all but cereal nights are probably a favorite for my kiddos and I. Also we might get a wild hair and venture out to our favorite restaurant. But the main thing is we always have something at home.

 

  • I shoot for two recipes that have meat in them, like I said above we normally only have meat 2-3 nights per week because it is most cost efficient for us and honestly we love vegetarian recipes. I always include at least one pasta dish for sure because we are pasta lovers. Some sort of soup or stew would be nice, and maybe one crock pot or InstantPot recipe for busy nights. *Tip-Don’t set yourself up to fail – plan quick & easy recipes on nights that you know you will not have a lot of time to cook or won’t feel like cooking. You will thank yourself later!
  • So now that I have all dinners accounted for, next is breakfasts’, lunches, and a couple of homemade snacks. Our normal go to breakfasts’ include smoothies, overnight oats, bagels with nut butter & jam, scrambled eggs with vegetables and/or fruit, or yogurt & granola bowls topped with fruit. Lunches were something that were really important to make at home because I noticed that was the most common time we ate out and typically felt sluggish afterwards! Packing your own lunch will be way more nutritious, less expensive, and give you a boost of energy to get through the rest of your work day whether it’s at home or in an office.

 

  • And last but not least, snacks. I always do 2-3 homemade snacks to throw in lunch boxes, grab on the go, or simply eat at snack time! I go for healthy, free of refined sugars, and perfect for small hands. Such as these sweet potato brownie bites. Be on the lookout for Favorite breakfast, lunches, and snack round ups, coming soon!
  • So that wasn’t so bad was it? Did you enjoy getting to sit down and meal plan your week out like a boss? It’s extra satisfying to know you have a full work week of meals mapped out and ready to go. Makes me feel like I actually have my life together for a few days, until the next time:).
This is my personal routine and what works best for me and my family. This exact approach may not work best for you and your family but I encourage you to find what best suites you and go from there. 

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