If you asked me to list at least four steps to successful meal planning. I would gladly take you through the process that has worked for me for years. It’s all based on the three P’s of meal planning that easily sets you up for successful meal planning. The three P’s of meal planning are: 1. Prep, 2. Pick, and 3. Plot. I go into all of the details on the three P’s of meal planning in this post, but what if we took those principles from a different angle and list at least four steps to successful meal planning. Here it is!
Steps in meal planning your weekly menu
1. Check out your calendar
Effect meal plan 101: always look at your calendar so that you don’t pick a five-course meal when you’ll be eating dinner in the car on the way to soccer practice! Get your calendar and check out your schedule for the week. When you get to picking out your meals, this will impact the level of difficulty and portability you decide on.
2. Review your budget
If you plan a monthly budget, review where you’re at with your grocery budget before picking out your meals for the week. Budget is tight? Consider cheaper meals or meals that use your existing good inventory to reduce the price of your grocery trip. Extra wiggle room? You now you know that you could get the fresh salmon instead of frozen!
3. Look for sales and deals
This part of how to properly meal plan ties tightly with your budget. To make the most of your grocery trip and get the freshest ingredients, it’s nice to know what sales and deals are running at the grocery store(s) you plan on going to. Try bookmarking your favorite stores in your web browser so you can easily skim through sales and deals before picking out your meals and groceries for the week.
4. Checking on your food inventory
This might be the MVP for how to successfully meal plan. Take inventory of the items you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. This step alone can help you make way better decisions when it comes to picking your meals so you can save money and avoid food waste!
5. Pick your meals
Everyone’s very favorite thing! Just kidding. I think this is most dreaded part of meal planning for the majority of people. Probably because there isn’t a great way to capture meals that you and your family like so you end up recreating the wheel and breaking your brain every week. There are lots of options for how to captures the recipes and meals that you like. I use a simple GoogleDoc to capture the meals that we like and I reference that each week to pick meals — it’s available for download if you’re interested.
This is a great time to remind yourself how busy your week is (remember back at step 1 when you looked at your calendar?)
6. Pick your groceries for successful meal planning
Based on the meals you picked out for the week, the food inventory you already have on hand, and the things that are on sale this week at your favorite grocery store(s), make a list of your groceries for the week!
Remember steps 5 and 6 can easily be completed on the Let’s Plan side of the Let’s Eat, Let’s Plan meal planning notepad.
7. Plot your meals to a day of the week
The last step is to plot your meals to the day of the week that makes the most sense based on your calendar and your inventory. If you have a giant meeting at work on Tuesday and the kids have soccer after school, plot your crockpot meal to Tuesday. If your bag salad leftover from last week is about to go bad, make Monday chicken nugget salad night!
List at least four steps to successful meal planning
If you’re looking for meal planning help, there you have it. The step by step meal plan: 1. Calendar, 2. Budget, 3. Sales and deals, 4. Food inventory, 5. Pick your meals, 6. Pick your groceries, 7. Plot your meals to a day of the week. Time to get after it!