I spent last night working on our meal plan for the week. When I first started, it felt overwhelming and took me forever! I feel like I have it down to a science now. It usually takes me about an hour (at the most) to figure out our schedule and plug in our meals for the week.
Here are some tips to help you make meal planning quick and easy.
Quick and Easy Meal Planning Tips
Look at your schedule for the week so you know what kind of time you have for each dinner.
Plan your meals around your schedule. Don’t try cooking a 45-minute meal on a night that is hectic. You will end up frustrated and it will be a disaster!!!
I tend to meal plan immediately after plugging in my schedule with appointments and meetings for the week. I know Tuesdays are Cub Scout nights, and we are not all at home at the same time. So, for that night, I typically use leftovers from Monday or make a crock pot food where everyone can scoop out their own dinner when they get the chance to eat.
Check the weather and temperature.
This might sound silly, but I do take a look at this. We live in a 1890 Victorian house and it has no central air, so I don’t make things in the oven on 90 degree days. No one really wants to eat chili on an unseasonably warm fall day either.
Use your food log.
I mentioned this in One Brilliant Meal Planning Hack. Write down frequently used recipes. If a new recipe is used, and it is a winner, write it into the meal log.
Use the food log to help plan your meals without spending a ton of time looking through recipes.
Don’t try more than one new recipe a week.
Focus on those frequently used recipes. My rule is that we don’t try more than one new recipe a week. Usually, that new recipe is tried on a weekend when I have time to figure it out.
There was one evening I decided to make a new recipe on a Thursday night after we got in from Crossfit. I was tired and hungry. It was listed as a 20-minute meal, but it ended up taking me about an hour to make. I was practically in tears – tired, hungry, frustrated, and by the time it was done, I didn’t even want it. It was a disaster. Don’t do that!
Use a themed night.
If you know that Tuesdays are for tacos, you will automatically have a plan for that day! Themed days is an easy way to help you plan.
When I use the food log, I often break the food into categories and that makes it easy to find something for a themed day. Maybe I want an Italian night, and I can go straight to my Italian category.
Use a meal planning service.
If you want to make things a lot easier, use a meal planning service like the $5 Meal Plan. The $5 Meal Plan offers a 14-day trial that is absolutely free. This means you get forty different recipes during the trial to figure out if it’s right for you.
For just $5 a month, they will send you a delicious meal plan where every meal will cost about $2 per person, and in most cases less. (Erin, the creator of the $5 meal plan, makes these meals for her family of 6 for $5 per meal!) If you avoid eating out once a month, this will pay for itself!
There are two ways to use $5 Meal Plan: the pre-made weekly meal plan and shopping list or the fancy drag and drop Meal Plan Builder.
Each week, your meal plan will arrive in your inbox on Friday at 11 AM Eastern.
The meal includes a menu and a shopping list. Each week, it features at least one 20-minute meal, freezer-friendly meal, and one slow cooker meal. Get ahead of your meals by using these time-tested shortcuts!
The menu will include:
- Five dinner entrees with sides – Each week we’ll include one freezer friendly, one slow cooker, and one 20-minute.
- We will also include one lunch and one breakfast, plus,
- A random goodie each week – sometimes it’ll be a dessert, sometimes a beverage, and sometimes it’ll be a snack (sometimes more than one!) – Treat yourself to something fun!
I hope these tips help you with your meal planning and makes it more streamlined and simple!!! Meal planning is one of those things that just take practice. Once you get into the groove of doing it weekly, it’ll come to you very easily. Do you have a great meal planning tip to share? I’d love to hear it!