Meal planning is a great way to manage what you eat and stay on your diet. Bonus: it helps you save money! After a few weeks of meal planning, it’ll start to become habit and you’ll notice the results. We walk you through the 5 steps to build a successful meal planning process.
For the first couple of weeks, meal planning may take longer. We recommend setting aside a good hour to an hour and a half for meal planning, grocery shopping, and any meal prep.
1. Consider Your Current Diet
What does your normal meal schedule look like now? Even if you’re able to write down everything you ate just for the past few days, this will give you a great idea of your current eating habits.
- Do you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
- What time do you usually eat those meals?
- Do you eat a lot of snacks?
- Do you have any activities during the week that may affect your eating schedule?
For example, if on Thursday you only have 30 minutes or less for dinner because you have activities for most of the evening, you’ll need to plan a quick or crockpot dinner.
2. Planning Your Meals
The fun part – choosing your food! Plan your meals for the week! You can use Pinterest, cookbooks, or just choose your favorite healthy meals. Plan out your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack for each day!
Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit
Lunch: Whole wheat tortilla, turkey and spinach wraps with fresh veggies
Dinner: Baked chicken breasts with fresh spinach salad (vinaigrette dressing)
Snacks: Fresh veggies, whole almonds, string cheese
Continue to plan the rest of your meals and snacks for the week! Writing everything out will help you get organized. Plan on having some of the same foods for your meals so you can buy in bulk and use foods for different meals. *Notice how in the example spinach is served with lunch and dinner.
3. Grocery Shop
Using your meal schedule, create a grocery list. You can double check to make sure you have all your meals and snacks covered. Now it’s time to grocery shop! Bring your list and your reusable bags.
Stick to your list at the grocery store! Grocery stores are designed to get you to buy more! By sticking to your list, you’ll save money and buy healthier food.
4. Meal Prep
After you return from the grocery store, you can do any meal prep that will help you during the week.
Some meal prep items:
- Wash and cut and fruits or veggies
- Bag or box up any snacks
- Wash and store any beans
- Separate and sore meats if necessary
Are salads on the menu a couple times? You can save time later by chopping up everything you want in your salad and storing it in a container.
5. Learn and Repeat
After your first week, note how your week went with meal planning. Think about any challenges or mistakes from your meal planning. Did you stick to your meals plans? Were you feeling hungry on some days? Learn from it!