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The Surprisingly Easy Way to Make a Meal Plan

Do you know how to make a meal plan?

I’ve told you before that meal planning used to be a struggle for me. The consequences on my family were awful. Just because I didn’t take the time to make a meal plan. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. It was more because I had no idea where to start.

Now part of the reason it’s very difficult for me is because my family of nine has multiple food allergies. So it’s not as simple as hopping on just any website and picking the trending recipes. I really need to think about it.

But I’ve come to realize that almost everyone struggles with making regular meals for their family. Whether it’s the budget or the lack of time, or creativity that stops you, I firmly believe that once you get the hang of making a meal plan, you’re gonna find your life is so much easier!

So let me share with you a very simple solution so you can get started feeding your family right away!

Person preparing a weekly meal plan by chopping vegetables

You know you need to cook for your family, but you lack the creativity, time, and ingredients to make delicious meals that are both satisfying and fit within your budget. It’s funny how we all need to eat at least three times a day and yet meals seem to catch us off guard.

I know I’ve promised myself over and over again that I won’t be caught without a meal idea for my family. And yet, meal planning seems very difficult. That’s why making a meal plan is so very important.

With a little planning and some creativity, you can start feeding your family well starting as early as the next meal! Here is the surprisingly easy to make a meal plan.

What Is the Importance of Meal Planning Anyway?

Well, there are actually a lot of reasons.

First, we all need to eat, several times a day, and it just really helps if you know what to make when that time comes. Meal planning really does make a huge difference.

Secondly, it really helps your budget. Think about it…when you don’t know what you’re gonna make for dinner, you’re waaaay more likely to go out to eat, order in, or grab something quick at the grocery store. Meal planning will keep you from all of that and keep money in your wallet.

Additionally, you can use leftovers for lunches, and further save money.

There’s also a hidden benefit…when you meal plan, you show your family that you love them. That you care enough to take the time to plan a delicious meal for them to eat.

Family eating dinner together. One of the many benefits of having a weekly meal plan.

First Let’s Talk About…What Is a Good Meal Plan?

That really depends on what your needs are.

  • Do you work away from home?
  • Will your family eat left overs?
  • Are you on a limited budget?
  • Do you need specialty food for food allergies? 

A good meal plan will take all of these things into consideration. Once you know what your needs are, you can make a meal plan that’s good for your family.

Start by Making Your Menu Very Simple

I think meal planning in general stumps us all. I’ve always said that if I could afford to hire a maid, on nanny, or cook, it would be a cook, hands down! But I’m sure it’s my lack of planning that makes me feel that way. And the chances are, if you feel the same way, you probably just need a plan.

Start simple! If you can find a few meals that you like and that work well for your family, then you can build off of them. Eventually, you can start to cycle one or two extra meals in here and there to add to your repertoire and add a little creativity.

Then, if you cook a little extra each evening you can use leftovers for lunch. That’s my favorite way to plan lunches because that way I don’t have to think through yet another meal each day. I try to keep it very simple!

Use Pinterest for Your Meal Planning Ideas

Even though I don’t love meal planning,  I do love Pinterest! Therefore, one of my favorite ways to make a meal plan is by harnessing the power of Pinterest.

Why?

Because I can literally be having fun on Pinterest and meal planning without even realizing it!  I’ll break down the system I use for you in three parts. Once you get the hang of it it’s really simple. And did I mention fun? Because Pinterest! Who doesn’t like Pinterest?

1. Set Up Your Meal Planning Categories

Assuming you have a Pinterest account, you’ll need to set up boards that fit the categories, lunch, supper, kids food, snacks, etc. Whatever “meals” you want to plan for. 

Think in terms of whatever food you will be feeding your family. This part is simple. Don’t over think it!

I realize Pinterest can seem a bit overwhelming, but trust me, once you get the hang of it,  you’ll be using it for everything!

2. Scroll through Pinterest to Find Recipes that Look Good to You so We Can Make a Meal Plan

This is the fun part.

Whenever you have time to scroll through Pinterest, even if it’s just for a few minutes here and there, look for recipes to put into each of those categories. (Hint: you can browse Pinterest while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting at in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, during lunch hour, etc. But, don’t get addicted! Set a time limit – Trust me! I know! 🙂 )

You don’t need to stress out about menu planning at the moment. For now you’re just having fun using Pinterest! We’re not even gonna think about meal planning at this point. Just scroll and pin!

Have Fun While Making a Meal Plan!

You could even scroll through your Pinterest feed and enjoy looking at all kinds of other things and just pick out recipes as you see them. (In other words, you’re not there for the express purpose of meal planning – that will come later. This is helpful because it tricks your brain into being more relaxed and not so pressured. You’re just having fun right now!

If you’re short on time, and you need to be more intentional, then search for quick breakfasts, or lunches on the go, suppers with minimal ingredients, family dinners on a budget for example. Use your imagination and you’ll find there are sooooo many options. Pinterest will even make suggestions for you to search. You’ll see them in little tabs across the top.

Whatever you do, just keep putting the recipes into the appropriate boards. You want to fill up your boards so you have plenty of options to come back to. The neat thing is, you’ll feel like you’re just enjoying Pinterest, but you’re actually working on your menu plan. Hehe! We’re tricky!! ;P

At this point you don’t even have to think about meal planning. Seriously! I really want you just to enjoy the process!

Delicious food that is a result of making a menu.

3. Now It’s Time to Put All Your Hard Work Into Action. Let’s Make a Meal Plan!

When you decide that it’s time to actually make up your meal plan, you’ll need to open up Pinterest again. I highly recommend doing this at a different time than when you’re pinning recipes and having fun. This is where the real plan comes into play.

This time you’ll need to create a board called Menu Plan Week One or something similar. Now you’ll scroll through the recipes you collected when you were scrolling through Pinterest menu planning but not really menu planning! 😉 At this point, you want to be a little more serious about your efforts! No pinning shabby chic farmhouse decor for your living room! Save that for later!

As you go through the recipes you’ve previously saved, pick out the appropriate amount of meals according to how many days you are planning for.

I like to menu plan one week at a time, so I will essentially end up with 21 meals in my board. (Like I said earlier, I don’t typically plan lunches, but for the sake of this tutorial, we’ll assume that we are planning for every meal in one week. You can adjust according to your needs and how often you want to meal plan and grocery shop.)

Essentially You’ll Have Seven of Each Of the Following:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Supper
  • Snacks if you prefer to plan them

When you’re finished putting your chosen meals into your Menu Plan Week One board, then you’ll need a piece of paper. I just use a blank piece of copy paper and a pencil.  

Now We’re Gonna Set Up Your Plan:

  1. Make two lines down the paper vertically, dividing the paper in threes.
  2. Across the top, label breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  3. Divide the paper horizontally into seven sections, one for each day of the week.
  4. Label each day of the week

If you aren’t planning an entire week’s worth of menus, then you can adjust it by crossing out the meals you don’t want. It’s a good idea to lay out your calendar as you plan so you can see if there are any meals you won’t need to be home. i.e. sports events, meetings, church activities, etc.) 

4. Time to Put Your Meal Planning Ideas Into Action

I love it when a (meal) plan comes together! LOL So let’s get to it! We’re gonna hash out the plan.

Scroll through your Menu Plan Week One board and start assigning meals to the appropriate places on your grid. For example, if you have a breakfast casserole chosen, then you would put it on the grid for Monday, breakfast. (Assuming you want it then.)

Next, open up the recipe, and jot down any ingredients you don’t have on hand. You’ll need a separate piece of paper to make your list of ingredients. This will become your shopping list.

Continue to do this until your grid is filled up and you have a week’s worth of meal plans. And an entire shopping list. Now you will have your recipes all stored in one place in your Pinterest account.

This will make it very easy for you to assemble your recipes after you have gone shopping.

There are Other Meal Planning Tools Available if You’d Prefer That Option

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you any extra)! Read my full disclosure policy.

If you’re looking for something that will give you a little more direction with meal planning, then you can check these out. I have personally tried each of these menu planning services and so I feel very comfortable recommending them to you. (I will only ever recommend you use those things that I’ve actually tried and love.)

Each one has it’s own special set of unique features, from apps for your phone to specialty diets. I have used and loved them all at some point for various reasons. I highly recommend you click the links to check them out for yourself!

How Will Meal Planning Change Your Life?

It sounds like a funny question, but having a weekly meal plan can really help you simplify your life and make cooking  so much more enjoyable.

Taking just a little extra time to know what you will feed your family can save you time and money.

For me, meal planning has made me feel much more organized and has helped me feed my family healthy and delicious meals!

Check out the Meal Planning Binder – Mini Pack. Click the image below to see what you’re missing! 

Related Meal Planning Articles:

How will meal planning change your life? Are you ready to start planning your meals using the surprisingly easy way to make a meal plan? Comment below and let me know! Let’s do this together!

 

Person preparing a weekly meal plan by chopping vegetables

 

Picture of a meal planning binder for making a weekly meal plan.

Your Meal Strategy {The Easiest Way to Make a Meal Plan}

 

 

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