Do you ever get to the weekend and dread thinking about your meals for the week? Well, my friend, you’re not alone. I think this happens to all of us from time to time. While some people might like to prepare gourmet meals, most of us just want something that is simple, affordable, easy, and of course delicious too. While I’m not a chef by any means, I’ve discovered (through trial and error) some easy tips and hacks to make meal planning super basic and dare I say, even fun!
Here are a few easy meal planning tips to plan your meals for the week.
Look For Inspiration Ahead of Time
Let’s be honest, if you’re always waiting until the last minute to figure out your meals, you’ll feel stressed. But, with a little planning, you can start thinking ahead. One problem might be that you never know what to cook. You’re just completely out of ideas. In that case, head over to Pinterest and start a board specifically for food and recipe ideas. This way, when it comes time to plan your meals for the week, you’ll never be at a loss for ideas. Or, if you want to go above and beyond, you might even keep separate boards for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Keep a Digital Doc or Plan with Your Favorite Meals and Recipes
I recommend keeping a note on your iPhone with all of your favorite recipes. Plus, you can share it with your roommates or partner so that they can add to it also. Whenever I’m planning my meals for the week, I always use this list and my Pinterest board for all of my ideas. Typically I shoot for making 80% of my food tried and true things I love and then I try to throw in one new recipe each week to switch things up.
Use a Grocery List and Meal Plan Template
If you already use the Flourish Health & Wellness digital planner, you know that you have a great template for your weekly meal plan and grocery list. If you don’t have it, what are you waiting for? Having a digital template is a great way to have everything that you need in one place so that you’re not losing paper lists or trying to remember where you wrote down your grocery list this week. No one has time for that.
Think About Your Schedule for the Week and Plan Accordingly
Don’t just plan a bunch of random meals for the week without thinking about your daily schedule. For example, if you go to a workout class on Monday nights and don’t get home until 8 pm, you’ll want something super easy. This might mean cooking a large batch on Sunday so that you’ll have leftovers for Monday or consider making Monday your night to eat out. Then, on days when you’re home earlier, make those your “cooking days.”
Pick 2-3 Days as “Cooking Days”
To add to what we just talked about, think about it like this. If you make enough food to have leftovers, you only need to cook 2-3 days a week. For me, I like to make my cooking days either Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday. I find that when I cook dinner on weekends I feel like I’m not as rushed and enjoy the process more. Also, this allows me to have leftovers for Monday and Tuesday so I don’t have to think about cooking again until Wednesday. When you pick your “cooking days” try to think about your average week and choose the days when you are the least busy and are the most relaxed.
Start with What You Already Have
If you always seem to be throwing away bad food, start your meal planning with the food you already have. This is especially important for fruits and veggies that don’t last long. If you have a mishmash of veggies, you can always do a simple stir fry and just throw in whatever veggies you have on hand. It’s also great to stock up on things like rice, lentils, and beans because they last a long time, are healthy, and can be used for a variety of meals.
Create a Set Time or Day in Your Week for Meal Planning
Having a set day and time each week will save you so much stress and trouble. For instance, my husband and I go grocery shopping on the weekend, so I know that I need to have our grocery list and meal plan ready by Friday evening. If something, in particular, sounds good during the week, I’ll add it to the list. Then, I’ll spend a few minutes on Thursday adding meal ideas to the meal plan and finalizing the grocery list. Think about a typical week and try to get into a routine of planning at the same time and grocery shopping on the same day. If this is difficult for you, consider setting yourself a reminder on your phone so that you never forget!
Involve Your Partner or Roommates
Ladies, just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean that you need to do 100% of the meal planning and cooking for the men in your life unless you truly want to. See if you can involve your partner too. You can try either sharing the responsibilities of meal planning, shopping, cooking, and dishes. Or, see if you can do these tasks together! It’s amazing how much faster things can go when you have help.
If you’re not used to meal planning, this might feel like a lot of information! I totally get that! If you’re not sure where to start, check out the Flourish Health & Wellness digital planner. This way, instead of starting from zero, you’ll have a template for meal ideas, a grocery list, and a meal plan. Remember, meal planning can actually be a lot of fun! Start brainstorming, think about your favorite meals, and see if you can add in at least one extra veggie a day! Your body will love you for it!