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How to Meal Plan in 5 Easy Steps

Can I let you in on a little secret?  If I didn’t meal plan, my family would starve to death.  They’d go hungry.  Thankfully, we don’t starve thanks to my organizational ocd tendencies.

5 tips to meal planning


Step 1- Make time for your meal plan.

It usually takes me about 30 minutes to prepare my meal plan.  Sit down at a time where you can be uninterrupted.  (If you are a mom, good luck with that!)  I usually do my planning during nap time because that’s my best chance at getting anything done without interruptions.

Step 2- Do your research. 

You can always go old school and use recipe books.  I have some awesome family recipe books and love cooking from them.  With the internet and it’s vast awesomeness, you have thousands of recipes at your fingertips for free.  If you aren’t on pinterest, you need to be!  It’s a great tool to organize your recipes.  Blogs are a great resource for finding recipes as well.  When I am searching for a recipe, I always go to a foodie blog first.  They almost always have step by step instructions and usually have a ton of pictures.  This girl is a visual learner so I absolutely love it.

Here’s a few of my favorite recipe sites.  I love them because they take your everyday comfort foods and find ways to make a healthier version of it by using various substitutions (did you know you can use applesauce instead of oil for baked goods?)

I love these sites because they use ziplist.  Ziplist is an application on some foodie websites that allow you to save your recipes to your own recipe box.  And what’s amazing about that?  If you have a smartphone, you can download the free app and make grocery lists right on your phone from your recipes!

Step 3- Use a meal plan printable. 

When I sit down to plan, I have a Meal Plan Printable at my side, always.  You can  go digital and use your phone or your online calendar, but I’m a paper and pen kind of gal.  There are many free printables out there on the net.  These are some of my favorites.

The Sister’s Cafe Menu Plan Printable

PartyBlog Meal Plan Printable

Seasonal themed Meal Planners

Beehive Menu Plan Printable

Dry Erase Meal Plan Printables

After I make my menu plan, I hang it up on the fridge.  I put it in a place that I will see it when I am cooking dinner so that I know what I need to get out to thaw for tomorrow’s meals .  My kitchen has been a microwave-free zone for 10 months (and I don’t miss it!) so I have to prepare ahead for the next day’s meals.

I also only cook breakfast and lunch 2-3 times a week.  I usually make muffins or breakfast breads (like Skinny Mom’s Chocolate Chip Banana Bread) to eat off for a couple days.  We tend to eat alot of healthy muffins, yogurt and smoothies for breakfast.  For lunches, I prepare a large batch of something ( like Skinny Mac Alfredo) that we can eat off for a few days and that I can send to work with the hubby.  I’m a busy mom so I don’t mind eating the same thing for a couple days in a row for lunch.  As long as my kiddo is fed, he’s happy.  And if he’s happy, I’m happy.

Step 4- Make your grocery list as you meal plan. 

I make my grocery list as I am meal planning.  As I am writing down my recipes on my meal plan printable, I will write down what groceries I need for the week.  This saves me alot of money.  I also utilize a co-op called Bountiful Baskets.  I get a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables for really cheap and I often plan my meals around what I have.

Suburban Mom’s Grocery List Printable

Step 5- Be consistent about your meal plans!

I have to admit I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times in the past.  And those are the times we starve.  Okay, not really.  But it is rather stressful to not know what we are going to eat because then we play the  “what do you want to eat? I don’t know.  What do you want to eat?” game.  It’s a rather annoying game to play because we always end up ordering out.

You will save a ton of money and time if you just plan ahead!!

Are you a meal planner?  Or do you play the “what’s for supper?” game?   Share in the comments!


Reader Interactions


  1. These are some great resources. I find I usually just write mine in a notepad file, it is a lot easier though to do the grocery list as you create, I find I rarely ever forget anything when I do it that way.

    Going to check out some of those printables now 🙂

    • There is alot you can prep ahead, like putting veggies and fruits in baggies so you just have to toss the bag in the lunchbox. Planning makes it so much less stressful!


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