So, you have heard about meal planning, and want to try it, but aren’t sure how? Well, I’m here to help. Creating a meal plan does not have to take hours of your time. In fact, I usually get mine finished in about 5 minutes. Yes, that’s right. First, here are a few tips to get you started, then keep reading for more ideas.
Tip 1: Batch cook. This means making a larger portion or double the portion in order to use some later in the same week or freeze for another time. For example, I make a large pan of my Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Lasagna. We eat it one night, then have it as leftovers for another meal that week. I also take half the pan and freeze it for another week.
My second tip: Make one meal and use the leftovers for another meal. For example, we love to make homemade gluten-free pizza (recipe coming soon) with sausage. I cook 1 pound of sausage and use half on our pizza. The other half I use in omelets or breakfast burritos and we do breakfast for dinner. My daughter absolutely loves breakfast for dinner. I also love to roast a whole chicken. The leftover chicken I use for chicken tacos, or chicken quesadillas later in the week. Or I use it for my Instant Pot, Gluten-Free Chicken Pasta. The chicken is already cooked so this recipe takes only 10 minutes.
The definition of meal planning, used by experts, is a strategy used to map out what you’re going to eat. Meal planning can be used when following a specific type of diet, or just going through the process of thinking through what you plan to eat beforehand. It’s asking the question, “What’s for dinner (breakfast or lunch)?” once for a whole week rather than every night, then making a grocery list, doing the grocery shopping, and preparing the meals.
Meal planning will save you money. This is because you buy ingredients you need, not ones you won’t use.
Creating a meal plan will also save you time. When you know what you’re eating, you are organized and more efficient.
Getting in the habit of meal planning reduces stress. You are prepared with all the ingredients, and know what to make, and are organized. This is especially helpful when everyone is hungry. Since you have a plan you’re also making fewer decisions every day, which reduces stress.
You’re cooking skills improve when you follow a meal plan. This is because you are focused more on the cooking itself. You learn more about cooking and try new ingredients and recipes.
A final benefit of meal planning is reducing food waste. When you meal plan you learn and decide the quantities of meals for your family so you don’t throw as much food away.
First, look at your calendar for the upcoming week, and note any nights it will be busy (kids, sports, meetings, etc.). Now, based on the information from your calendar, choose your dinners/meals and find the recipes. Next, write down all of your meals for the week. From your plan, write out your grocery list. Now you’re ready to do the grocery shopping. Once you have all your ingredients bought, it’s time to prepare the meals.
Preparing your meals is completely up to you. I like to take part of a day to make some of my meals ahead of time. This makes it easier when the week gets busy, or unexpected things come up.
To get you started with meal planning, grab my Meal Plan Guide. Like anything else meal planning just takes some practice. Why not get started today?
If you get stuck, leave me a comment and ask questions. I’m here to help. Or reach out to me on Instagram or Facebook. I’ll respond to any questions, concerns, or comments there too.
Be sure to also watch for me live on Instagram and Facebook where I will walk you through my own meal plan and give you a tour of my kitchen.
Blessings, Laura xo
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