I find that I eat better more consistently through the week when I take an extra few minutes to plan some meals for the week. When I don’t meal plan, I find that I don’t look forward to cooking as much because I have no idea what to make. And for me, coming up with a meal idea on the fly is far more challenging than grabbing a cookbook or looking online for ideas to jot down.
I’ve tried a handful of “fancier” ways to meal plan but this simple casual method is what works for me and I hope it helps encourage you to get started meal planning too. Here‘a what you do:
1. Prep Your Stuff to Start Meal Planning
To get started, grab your cookbooks, your phone, and a pen and notebook. Start sifting through your cookbooks and see what feels appetizing in the moment. Also, I like to save recipes on Instagram through the week that look tasty so I go through those I’ve saved and start taking mental notes.
2. Select Your First Recipe
After you select your first recipe, write down the first dish that got your tastebuds salivating. Next to it, write which cookbook you got it from and the page number. Or if it was from IG or elsewhere online, write down exactly where to find it again. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten this step and ended up with a title and no clue what to do!).
3. Check Ingredients
Do a quick run through of the ingredients noted for the recipe you chose and write down each one you don’t have under the corresponding recipe. I usually have to double check my kitchen to be sure what I have and don’t have on hand.
4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3
Repeat steps two and three. Each time you get to an ingredient above in your list that you already wrote down for another recipe, start a tally next to it. Meaning, if you needed one red pepper for the first recipe you wrote down, and the third recipe calls for two more, you’d go back up to the first recipe and tally 3 marks next to “red pepper”.
This way you don’t end up having to count how many you need throughout your list when you’re at the grocery store and come up short when you get home. (I’ve done that too.)
5. Asses How Many Meals You Need
Keep in mind how often you plan to eat out and plan accordingly. I usually only plan for five to six meals in total; five dinners and one brunch. We usually get take-out on Wednesdays and eat out more on the weekends. Currently, lunches are almost always leftovers or a can of wild salmon or tuna. And sometimes, one of the meals I planned for will get pushed to the next week.
You Did It!
This certainly isn’t a professional way to plan your meals but I’ve tried doing it a few different ways and this is the one I’ve found that has worked best for me throughout the years. It’s the one that I’m able to be consistent with and saves me time and stress throughout the week.
It can be frustrating the first couple times through but once you’ve meal planned a few times, it only gets easier and easier. Pretty soon you’ll be able to plan your entire week of meals in no time!