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Meal Planning 101: Meal Planning for Beginners

How to Plan and Execute a Time Saving Meal Strategy!

Meal Planning is all the rage and a solution for saving time, money and your sanity! Below are some helpful tips on how to get the most out of meal planning with a helpful step-by-step strategy!

If one of your goals in the New Year is to eat healthier, have more organized weeknights, or to waste less food, we’re here to help. Our Printable Meal Prep helps you plan out your meals and grocery for the week. Check out our Free Printables section for other helpful plans, too!

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Here are some helpful tips to get the most out of your meal planning.

1. Choose a time every week that works to plan out meals, and stick to it. I like to plan on Friday afternoons and shop on Sunday afternoons.

2. Check what’s in season and on sale at your store to get ideas. Spend the week looking online for recipes or take requests from your family. This week, chicken breasts and ground turkey were on sale at my store, so I chose those for the base of the meals and planned around them.

3. Plan several meals that share the same ingredients. Onions, carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers are vegetable staples in our household. It can be a lot easier to stock up on similar items and divvy them up among meals than buy smaller quantities of vegetables and hope they don’t go to waste.

Also, stock up on your recurring non-perishables once a month or so (or when they are on sale) to keep your grocery trips lighter. For me, this includes chickpeas, canned tomatoes, black beans, peanut butter, and brown rice.

4. Block out a recurring time for your food prep and stick to this meeting as well. You’ll probably need a good two hours to prep at a relaxing pace. I do this on Sunday afternoons right after the grocery store. By the time my prep is done, I have Sunday dinner in the slow cooker, and lunches and dinners made for the first few days of the week. 

Wednesday evenings I spend another 30 minutes or so prepping for the rest of the week. Plan to use the most perishable items early in the week and keep later-week items in the freezer, but a midweek mini-prep is also great for a quick grocery run for perishables.

5. Know your pain points of food prep and where you want to cut corners to save time and lower stress. If there’s something you dread preparing and you’re willing to pay a little extra for the store to prep it for you—by all means, do it! They sell diced onions for a reason!

6. Don’t forget the final step, which can sometimes be the most challenging. Section the lunches and snacks and get them into lunch bags in the fridge to help keep the morning chaos at bay.

Here is a look at my meal plan and prep in our household!

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Sunday afternoon prep:

  • Cut up onions and peppers (half for the chili and save other half for slow cooker chicken fajitas)
  • Make the turkey chili and let it simmer
  • Boil eggs
  • Cook brown rice on stovetop
  • Freeze spinach for morning smoothies
  • Broil salmon
  • Shred rotisserie chicken and freeze meat (for chicken noodle soup)
  • Slice apples, soak in lemon juice and put in containers
  • Section peanut butter into small dishes for snacks
  • Chop up fruit and set aside smoothie supplies for Monday morning
  • Shred cheddar for chili topping

Wednesday night prep:

  • Make turkey wraps and salad (for Thursday’s lunch)
  • Slice cucumbers
  • Spiralize zucchini
  • Section hummus into small dishes for snacks
  • Remove shrimp from freezer to thaw
  • Dice up onions, carrots and celery (for chicken noodle soup)
  • Slice onions and bell peppers (for pizza)
  • Shred mozzarella (for pizza)

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