How to Plan Meals for the Week

Life as a full time working mommy requires a lot of planning. I am one of those weird people who must write everything pretty nice writing...with stickers...see, I told you I was weird. Color coded organizational tools are my anti-drug....I'm a freak.

So, now that we are past that awkward conversation, let me tell you a story. A story about a girl who would eat a handful of peanuts, 2 slices of ham, and a very ripe banana for lunch because she failed to go grocery shopping. Yup, we've all been there. We've all explained to our co-workers, "I haven't made my grocery run" as we nosh on a bag of chips and four grapes. Can I get an Amen? Well, I'm proud to say I've overcome that lack of meal planning phase of life because a girl can't thrive on 3 Red Vines and half a bottle of water for lunch.

This is how I meal plan for myself, my hungry, meat eating husband, and a 15-month old toddler.

Step ONE: Buy a cute mini notebook or start a list on your cellular device. I like to organize my pages like so:

This helps you jot everything down in an organized manner. You know what you're eating, you know what you need, and you can see it in one eyeshot.

Step TWO: Pre-plan. If you're not a planner, this step might make you question how much time I have on my hands, but nay, this step helps in so many ways. My pre-plan to plan goes like this:

- Check cupboards for what I already have.
-Poll the family. "Hey Honey, any requests for dinner this week?" Luckily, my boys are not picky eaters. I can put almost anything in front of them and I wont encounter any resistance. Well, there was that one time I used Soyrizo instead of Chorizo and well, let's just say I am no longer allowed to bring Soy products into our home.
-Gather Cookbooks, Pinterest pins, Magazines, Weekly ads and your Master List
My Master List  consists of meals I've made over the months. They are my go-to meals that I have in my memory bank.

Step THREE: Have a Dinner Formula I know I've probably lost some of you already, but for those of you still with me, I promise you this will make your life a million times easier. Plan it once and you have a sure fire way to plan all your weekly meals. Here is my formula:
  • One Pantry Cleaner Dinner (Using things I already have in my pantry.)
  • One Veggie is the Star Dinner (My feeble attempt to be healthy)
  • One Easy Meal (I can do this with my eyes closed)
  • One Crockpot Meal
  • One new recipe

More often than not, I will ditch one of the above for a take-out meal. We like to call this "Mama is tired tonight" meal.

Step FOUR: Write the dish, write the ingredients, write the dish, write the ingredients I do a mental run through of all the meals I want and write the name of the dish and all the items I would need. Make sure you do that Pantry Sweep. I forgot to do that this week and now I have 3 tubs of Turkey slices. Feels like Thanksgiving.

I also like to list my items in the order that I see it in my market so I'm not rushing around like I'm playing Supermarket Sweep.

This takes me about 20 minutes depending on my level of motivation and whether or not I get stuck scrolling on Pinterest.

I have been planning my meals like this for years and it really takes the stress out of meal planning. I'm in and out of the market in no time and all and I'm not mindlessly dumping items into my cart, racking up my bill.
I hope this helps you in some way or another. Good luck!
What are your meal planning tips?


  1. I'm a huge meal planner too- I do something similar as you do in terms of certain categories. Something easy for yoga nights, something more involved on Sunday nights since I have the time, etc... I also like to think of things that share ingredients, like chicken breasts and tortillas, so we don't have to worry about things wasting (I'm horrible at freezing things and then forgetting about them). Scott actually prefers Soyrizo! Such a weird little half-blooded Mexican I have.

    1. HA I love how you call him little half-blood. So funny. Good call on the sharing ingredients. I'm horrible about leftovers too so putting them into my plan might be something I adopt.

  2. more,that is still you may do something to expand on it.yhanks for sharing with us.I think I am going the clearness in your post is simple spectacular and I can take for granted you are an expert on the field.Well with your permission.Like your way of seeing this things. i'll be checking in on a regularly now....keep up the good work.

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