Meal planning can be a game changer – you don’t have to make dinner decisions in the middle of a busy week, all the groceries you need are at your fingertips, and it can even help you save money. Let’s be real though – it can also be completely overwhelming. The thought of spending your entire Sunday planning, shopping and prepping isn’t very exciting which is why I am sharing my top tips to make meal planning easy so that you are set up for success (and still get to have fun on Sundays!)
Get your container game on point
Do you have enough containers to store all the things you prep? Are they the right sizes and do they have matching lids? Take some time today to clear out your cabinet full of containers. Only save the ones that have matching lids and that you will actually use. Toss any that are crusty or WAY too old!
If you are left with only a few containers, add them to your shopping list for the week. I prefer glass containers for anything you are going to heat up in the microwave. Amazon has some great ones that you can reuse as well.
Have a planning notebook
Do all your meal planning in the same place. When you run out of meal ideas for the week, you can flip back to old weeks and reuse those ideas and recipes. It makes planning so much easier – and it’s always good to have an excuse to buy another cute notebook.
Scheduling a time to meal plan will make sure you do it. Put it on your calendar and make it a non-negotiable. Sundays tend to work best for most people and you can spend about 30 minutes planning your meals and making your shopping list. Grocery shopping can get done right after so that you have everything you need for the entire week. Consider a grocery service that delivers right to your house to save time!
Think through your plan
Go through these questions in your head as you plan:
– Do I have any business lunches scheduled, date nights with my boo, brunches with the girls? If I do, I just draw a big ol’ X through those meals times because there is no planning involved!
– In my life, the hubby plays softball on Tuesday and Thursday nights, which means I am usually cooking for one, and I use these nights to make the things I love and he doesn’t. Usually vegetarian options or new, quirky recipes. Do you have days like this in your life? Think about what would be the most fun for you to make for yourself.
Once I know what the week looks like, I can start my FAVORITE part: recipe research. This is when I am going through my recipe arsenal (saved pins, go to recipes, etc.) and finding new recipes to fill out the week. Now, you’ve got your week planned out with your list of recipes, all you do is plug and play which recipe for which day.
Have a go-to meal
Every Thursday you go in to work early for a meeting and you tend to stay late. Don’t make it hard on yourself by trying a new recipe that night. Use your Go To Meal – slow cooker tacos, cauliflower pizza, or quinoa pasta with veggies – whatever is easy for you and something you love. Having this as part of your plan will help you avoid the takeout option on your way home.
Break up your meal prep
I know, I know – everyone on Pinterest shows a full week of meals prepped, pretty and perfectly portioned, all done on Sunday afternoon. That isn’t how I roll – Sundays are for fun, which is why on Sunday, I only prep Monday’s meals. Then on Monday, while I am making dinner, I prep Tuesday’s meals and so on for the entire week.
Having the plan and the groceries on hand makes life easier for the week and prepping a little each day makes the weekend more fun.
Make lunches easy
It’s all about the leftovers. Make enough dinner so that you have a portion to bring with you to lunch the next day. Less ingredients to buy, less prep and less stress.
Give yourself grace
You’re probably still going to order takeout (I do), sometimes you’ll try a new recipe and it end up in the trash bin, you’ll forget an ingredient at the store and can’t make the recipe you planned. It’s going to happen. Just don’t be hard on yourself. You are making an effort. You are taking steps to be BETTER, not perfect, and that is what matters the most.