Meal planning can sometimes seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. These six simple, time-saving tips make meal planning easy and stress-free.
When it comes right down to it, meal planning is all about one thing: saving. Saving money. Saving time in the kitchen. Saving us from ourselves so we don’t end up eating cereal or takeout every night for dinner.
Sure, meal planning can take time you think you don’t have, but if you approach it with an organized plan (yes, a plan for a plan), you can easily and quickly map out a week’s worth of meals.
5 Tips for Meal Planning
Tip 1: Simplify
Busy weeknights call for meals that can be tackled in 30 minutes or less. That means seeking out recipes with few ingredients and steps. Carve out 30 minutes to an hour on Saturdays or Sundays to meal plan, shop, and prep for the week ahead.
Peruse your favorite cookbooks, magazines, websites, and Instagram for inspiration. Try to pick recipes that don’t require a lot of prep or chopping (but if you must, that’s what Sundays are for). Wash, chop, steam, and roast your veggies, and cook your grains. Make marinades and dressing, and shred chicken or cheese all in advance.
Also, the slow cooker and Instant Pot are your best friend here! So save the three-hour bolognese for the weekend.
Tip 2: Organize Your Grocery List
When writing out your grocery list, group your items so you can save time shopping for them at the store. Group all of your produce items together, your dairy, your meats, etc.. We even group things by aisle if we can. No one wants to waste time darting back and forth through every aisle of the grocery store, and this is an efficient way to avoid having to do that.
Tip 3: Be Resourceful
Take a good survey of your pantry, fridge, and freezer, and use what you have. For example, if you have carrots and celery to use up, you could make a soup one night and a stir-fry or quick bolognese another night. Try to make use of what you already have on hand. You’ll eliminate food waste and also spend less at the grocery. Also, be sure to factor leftovers into your meal plan!
Tip 4: Organize Your Recipes
Have you ever tried a recipe that you just LOVED, but you never saved it or printed out a copy, and you totally forgot where it came from? It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
Make recipe binders, or save your recipes to Evernote, or Pinterest (you can create different boards like “fast weeknight meals,” “slow cooker,” “soups,” etc.) to make it even easier to find things. And of course, if you’re old school, you can always go the recipe card route. No matter your personal preference, just keep your recipes organized and accessible so you can find them easily and quickly.
Tip 5: Know Your Go-To’s
It’s good to have an arsenal of favorite recipes and reliable standbys to have in regular rotation. Trying new recipes is great, but it helps to have recipes you have down pat when you’re trying to navigate a crazy week. Maybe there’s one particular dish you enjoy making each week, or maybe you have some themes, like “Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, or Pasta Fridays.” Keep it simple, but have fun with it!
Tip 5: Create a Batch Cooking Routine
Tired of spending hours and hours of your precious weekend time meal prepping? We are too! That’s why we created the batch cooking system. Instead of cooking full meals for the week ahead, you just prep the ingredients. We recommend one protein, one grain, a few vegetables, salad and a dressing.
While it’s not full meals you can definitely let your creative juices run wild allowing the space to make countless meals all week long! Get all the details inside our Batch Cooking Basics guide and learn how to master meal prep with our five master recipes!
What are your best meal planning tips? We’d love to hear from you!
Make Planning Easier with the 2018 Nourished Planner
You can purchase your very own 2018 Nourished Planner and change the way you live. Last year’s planner sold out so quickly so don’t delay! These won’t be around all year!
To see a quick run-down of what you can expect in this year’s version of the 2018 planner, click here.
Don’t forget to check out our Batch Cooking Basics Guide, where you’ll learn the REAL secrets to successful meal prep, and it starts with just a few simple recipes.
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