How To: Meal Plan (A Four Part Series)

You’re ready to start meal planning – YAY! Welcome to a world where you will become healthier while saving money. Oh, and being able to answer the dreaded question of “what’s for dinner?”.

Want to know a secret?! Meal planning is a process. You learn it, you apply it, but just like any process, it evolves. Some weeks, it’s sunshine and rainbows. Others, it’s the perfect storm. But with a process, the right tools, and a few tips, you can become a master planner in no time!

Step 1: Initial Planning. How often are you going to meal plan? Once a week, every few days? The answer comes from how often you can and/or want to go to the grocery store. Now that you have figured out how often, you need to decide when are you going to meal plan. You don’t want to go to the grocery store without a plan – that’s were trouble brews. So make sure you are meal planning BEFORE you go to the grocery store and make it a date in your personal calendar. At first, you should set aside about 45-60 minutes. As you become an expert meal planner your time spent meal planning will decrease.

Step 2: Gather your tools. Here’s what you’re going to need: your Nourish H+W Weekly Meal Plan Calendar (click here to get your FREE Meal Planning Calendar), your family/personal calendar, and the resources you get your recipes from - cookbooks, smart phone, and/or computer. You’ll also need to jot down your grocery list, so grab a pen and paper or your smart phone. Pro Tip -the Grocery IQ app is amazing. It’s free, plus you can save your weekly staples as favorites and then add them to your list with a touch of a finger.

Step 3: Determine how many and what types of meals you need to plan. Are you planning for 5 days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Only weeknight dinners? Take a look at your family/personal calendar - are there practices or games that run into dinner time? If so, a crockpot meal may be the perfect solution. Pro Tip – If you and/or your spouse work full-time and need lunches for the week, double 1 or 2 of your planned dinner recipes (hello leftovers!) or make an extra meal or 2 before the work week starts so that you can grab and go from your fridge instead of grab and go from the nearest fast food restaurant.

Step 4: Crack open those cookbooks and Pinterest boards and start writing in your Meal Plan Calendar. Do you have family favorites like Taco Tuesday? Write it in your Meal Plan Calendar! Been dying to try that new recipe you got from Nourish H+W? Write it in your Meal Plan Calendar! Not sure what meals to make? Check out Nourish H+W’s’ website for new, fresh ideas. Then you guessed it…write it in your Meal Plan Calendar! Pro Tip – when you write the meal you planned be sure to also write the source of the recipe so you can find it later in the week.

Step 5: Make your grocery list. First, add your weekly staples to your list. These are things you buy each week – milk, bread, broccoli, bananas, beans, etc. Then go through your recipes and add in the ingredients that you don’t already have in your kitchen. Pro Tip – group similar ingredients together (produce, dairy, meat, etc.) so that you are not wasting time going from one end of the store to the other and back gathering the things you need.

You did it! You have successfully completed your first meal planning process! Now repeat. Pro Tip – Gather your favorite 20-25 recipes and cycle through them over the course of 2-3 weeks. Add to your “favorites” list every time you find a new recipe that you love. Here’s to a healthier you!

Next up, we will dive deeper into Steps 1 and 2, plus I'll share some of my fav recipes!