Young Woman Filling Out Weekly Planner

Meal Planning in Nine Steps

Author Headshot - Carmen
November 27, 2020

How to Meal Plan

Whether you’re feeding a family of four or just yourself, you always want to provide a healthy meal without breaking the bank. You want to serve tasty dishes without a lot of food waste. Instead of scrounging around the kitchen for ideas of what to cook tonight, it might be a good time to try planning meals in advance. Meal planning can save you time and ensure that you always have the ingredients you need to use on hand. Here are some tips to help you start meal planning.

Find New Recipes

It’s easier to plan meals for the week when you have a large pool of recipes to choose from. You should set aside an hour or so per week to research new recipes. From cooking blogs to Pinterest, there are many sources to find new ideas for meals, but some may require your email address to view.

Every week, you want to surprise your family with new, delicious meals, and that requires new recipes. You aren’t wasting time when you look for a new meal to impress your family. New recipes are a great way to avoid eating the same thing every night.


You should always state your meal plan for the week by seeing what food items you have on hand. This means that your fridge, freezer, and pantry need to be organized so you can easily see what items you already have.

Organization can help you save money by not buying ingredients that you already have tucked away at the back of your pantry. When you start your shopping list or menus for the week, you need to use items you already have as a starting point. You don’t want any food waste from uncooked items going bad.

Use a Planner

To successfully plan a week’s worth of meals, you need to use a planner. A planner is easy to use since you can see the entire week at once. You want to make a menu as diverse as possible, and with a planner, you can easily see that you’re planning to make pasta on three nights out of seven.

You can also use your planner to determine how much time you have to cook each evening. Your planner shows your other appointments, and you can assign easier dishes or plan to advance meal prep on busy days.

Themed Meals

It can be easier to meal plan when those evenings have a theme, such as Taco Tuesday, Italian night, or breakfast for dinner. You can plan for dishes that run along the same theme and make sure everyone in your family has something they like on the menu.

You may find that your family really enjoys themed meals. It can also help bring a variety of dishes to your table. You may find that you have a longer shopping list at first. However, as you make the basics part of your pantry, you won’t need to have such an extensive grocery list.

Use Weekly Sales

You can use the weekly sales ads from your local grocery stores to make a plan. Each week, your local stores publish a weekly sales ad to make grocery shopping easier, but you can turn this into an opportunity to save money while making meal planning easier.

Take time to look through each grocery store ad and see what’s on sale and then meal plan around the items on sale. You can use the sale items for inspiration when you’re looking through recipes.

Ask Your Family

One of the best ways to see your family enjoy a meal every time they sit down is to ask them what they like. You might alternate by allowing your son to choose a meal one week and your daughter selects on the following. If you don’t want them picking the exact same meal over and over again, you might suggest they choose a theme or country.

For example, if your kids always pick pizza, you might suggest an Italian night, or if it’s always burgers, you might suggest a backyard barbecue theme. Meal planning becomes easier when you ask others for their input.

Include Leftovers

You always seem to have food leftover after each meal. It’s easy enough to put it away, but not so easy to get someone to eat it. As part of your meal planning, it’s a good idea to include leftovers. You might want to have one night be leftover night.

You always have one day that’s busier than others, and it’s the perfect time to save time by having everyone reheat something leftover for their dinner. You can always heat up all your leftovers and let everyone take a little of everything.

Keep a Well-Stocked Pantry

You may give up on a meal plan if you need to buy a whole list of ingredients to complete it. When you’re pantry is well-stocked with staple items and some fun exotic items as well. Each time you open your planner to start a new week’s worth of menus, you can find inspiration for dishes to prepare by looking into your pantry.

Your well-stocked pantry should be clean and organized so you can easily make a list of needed items for your next shopping trip. You don’t want to end up with eight boxes of various pasta shapes.

Meal Prepping

You can save time by meal prepping certain items when you have time. If you have spare time on the weekends or Wednesday afternoon, you can go ahead and prepare some items for your lunches and meals ahead of time. For example, you can brown ground beef, make up the red sauce for spaghetti, and cut up all of your veggies for various meals.

You might even consider making and freezing items, such as a double batch of red sauce or your family’s favorite soup. It’s easier to follow your plan when part of the work is already done for you.

At Ultimate Weekly Planner, we understand how busy you are, and planning ahead can save you time. We’re ready to help. Buy a 2021 planner now.

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