How to meal plan
5. After choosing the main entree recipes for each meal, go back and add the side-dishes to the menu plan (as you can see above I added asparagus, broccoli, or green beans to the meals I felt they would complement), and then add them to your shopping list. I didn’t list a starch side since my starch side is always rice unless the meal specifically needs something else, but you would do the same thing if adding potatoes, a particular type of rice or pasta, or even low carb veggie noodles to your meal plan. Just remember to also add these to your meal planning shopping list for the week!
6. Go shopping for your ingredients. I take an extra step for grocery shopping efficiency by organizing my shopping list by aisle. After I am done writing the list I go back through and label each by aisle (“V” for produce, “M” for meat, “D” for dairy, “Br” for bread, “F” for frozen, “Bak” for baking, “C” for canned, etc. – that’s just my personal coding but you can do whatever makes sense for you).
Do you have to plan your meal planning for each specific day?
As you may have noticed by my final menu plan, I didn’t determine the exact day for each recipe. This is because my family and I find it fun to choose off our “menu” for the week each night. Occasionally I will plan a specific meal for a certain night if it makes my schedule more convenient. For example, if I know I have an after-work errand, I will plan a slow cooker meal for that night so that I can prep it the night before or morning of, and it will be ready when I get home. Another example would be if I know I am having company and need to plan a larger quantity meal for a certain night.
That’s it! These are my tips for how to meal plan for beginners. For me, this easy meal planning system works really well, and hasn’t changed in years. I don’t have to waste time and energy standing in my fridge or pantry each night wondering what I can make based on what ingredients I have. Plus my grocery trips tend to be pretty cost-effective and quick as I am only buying items that I know I will be using for my meal plan, and not a lot of extra things that would go to waste. Mind you, there are certain things I always keep in stock (baking ingredients, frequently used seasonings, milk, bread, etc.), but otherwise, I am only purchasing the meats, veggies, and specific ingredients for meals that I am going to make that week. See how a little planning can go a long way for efficiency, saving time and money, and sustainability with less food waste?
I hope these tips on how to meal plan have helped inspire you to try meal planning yourself! Don’t forget to follow Fab Everyday on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for ongoing recipe inspiration to help you meal plan like a boss!
Related posts and resources to help you meal plan like a boss:
- Follow my Dinner Tonight Pinterest board for an archive of the meals I make for my family
- Join the Fab Foodies Facebook group for ongoing easy recipe inspiration for meal planning
- Feed your family for a weekend and then some! 6+ easy family-friendly meals
- New Favorite Recipes
- Great Picnic Recipes
- New Recipe “Keepers”
- Favorite Casseroles and Meals to Make Ahead and Freeze
- New Favorite Recipes Part I
- New Favorite Recipes Part II
- Zucchini Recipe Round-Up
- Friday Faves: New Recipe Favorites – Salads
- Friday Faves: New Recipe Favorites – Fish
- Friday Faves: New Recipe Favorites
- Fab Everyday’s New Recipe Keepers – Part I
- Fab Everyday’s New Recipe Keepers – Part II (The Lighter Side)
- My Favorite Easy Slow Cooker Recipes
- Favorite New Recipe Keepers from 2017
- Tried-and-True, Delicious Recipes for the Instant Pot
- Add my new favorite recipe “keepers” to your family meal plan!
- New Favorite Healthy Recipes Round-Up
- Fab Everyday’s Favorite, Outside-the-Box Breakfast Recipe Ideas