*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Please read my disclaimer for additional details. Thank you for supporting the work I put into this site!
Are you spending hours trying to decide what to cook, and ending up cooking the same, mediocre meals every day? If so, you need to get your meal planning confusion all together into one place.
All you need to learn are the few basic steps which, when taken care of, can let you achieve the kind of meal you want to eat on any particular day. The major issue with meal planning is that we think about it at the last moment.
Three simple steps to meal planning are SELECT, SHOP and PREP. There is a strategy which should be applied to each one of these steps to get the best of their uses and also make it a budget friendly meal plan.
There is a list of a few do’s and don’ts to reach the goal and some pro-tips that could possibly help you to reach it more quickly. So let’s understand the basics first.
What is Meal Planning?
Meal planning is basically asking yourself what you want to eat for the entire week rather than asking yourself the same question every night. You then shop for the required ingredients, prep, and start cooking. The few basic steps which you should follow are:
- Select – Select what you want to eat, plan it out and, then figure out the recipes you need.
- Shop – Shop for the items you’ll need for the entire week.
- Prep – Lastly, prepare the ingredients you’ll need.
On Friday evening, select and jot down things that you want. Shop accordingly on Saturday morning, and then spend less than an hour on prepping the meals on Sunday afternoon.
You see what happened there? If you follow this routine you will end up saving a lot of time and your weekend won’t be as boring.
What Meal Planning isn’t.
There is so much buzz about how meal planning can change your life that it is easy to blow its effects out of proportion. But, as they say, every door can be opened with the help of the master key. The master key in this case is to know what can fit into your list. This means that you’ve a clear idea of what you want and what you don’t.
Busting the Myths about Meal Planning
It is Expensive – No! When done in the correct way, it saves you money. You end up spending less when you plan.
It is Inflexible – It ain’t a tree! You can try your own experiments, revisions, and customizations, and work with what suits you best.
It means Piled Up Work – This myth is so not true. You can get a little overwhelmed in the beginning but once you get the hang of it, it is smooth sailing from there on.
Now you have a basic idea about what meal planning is, what it isn’t, and overall what myths there are surrounding it. To start with meal planning you need to have a clear head about why are you doing meal planning. Is it because you want to:
- Eat properly?
- Save a little money?
- Experience some variety?
Or simply because you’re tired of asking yourself and everybody else what to eat or what to cook? Once you’ve got the reason behind why you’re doing it, let’s actually start doing it!
Friday: Selection day!
On Friday night, you need to find some recipes that suit your taste buds, give some variety of taste, and fit within your budget.
This is considerably the most crucial step of the entire process because if you don’t get a good start, you’ll never get the desired end product. So, in order to decide on to what recipes you should select, you have to answer some key questions:
- How many meals do I want to plan for?
- What is the core motive of each meal?
Once these questions are answered, you’re already halfway through the process. Now if you know how to cook what you’ve selected, well and good! If you don’t, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.
All you need to do is search a few websites and select the recipes that work the best for you. Also, don’t forget to select some recipes that can be made with the help of left-over food. This will cut back on food waste.
Saturday: Shopping Day!
Recipes selected? Now what you need to do is jot down everything you need to make the recipes. The simplest way is to have two lists that can be distinguished as an ingredient list and a grocery list.
Make a master ingredient list: Go through each recipe ingredient. That will help you to create your own master ingredient list and will save your time and energy for the entire upcoming week.
Then, with a very keen eye, have a look through your kitchen cabinets and start ticking off all the items on the list which you already own. You will most likely mark off at least half of the items.
Make a grocery list: Now that you’re ready with your master ingredient list, separate out the items you need and group the ingredients into different categories.
This makes it easier for you when heading for the store. And then, you’re all set to hit the stores with your grocery list and the master ingredient list in hand.
Sunday: Prepping Day!
You’ve picked your recipes, made a grocery list, and shopped for all the ingredients. Now comes the final step where all the planning comes into fruition.
By prepping veggies and pre-cooking anything that can be cooked in advance, you can help to beat the cooking fatigue of the entire week.
You will make mistakes. You’ll do it, you’ll learn from it and you’ll keep doing better. So don’t give up! Once you are adept at making these lists and doing the prep work, the rest of the week will be like a walk in a park. All the best.