Plan Meals in 6 Simple Steps
Sometimes the hardest part of meal planning is getting started. Here is your step-by-step guide for planning one week's worth of meals for your household.
Step 1 Print-out or create a meal planning worksheet
Meal planning doesn’t have to be boring and if you’re a creative person this is the
perfect opportunity for your creativity to shine!
Print the 7-day meal planning worksheet and grocery list or create your own. Think about your family schedule for this next week. How many people will you need to cook for? How much time will you have to prepare meals? Is there special equipment or recipes you’d like to use this week? Note all of this on your plan.
Step 2 Check for foods you have on hand.
Check the refrigerator, freezer, and shelves and pantry for main ingredients and other foods that need to be used up. Write these foods under "On Hand."
Step 3 Review items you have on hand.
With your family's likes and dislikes in mind, think of ways you can use these foods for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. As you assign the on-hand items to meals/snacks, cross them off your "On Hand" list. Do you need to buy any other foods to complete the meal? If so, put those items on your Grocery List.
Step 4 Check for grocery specials.
If you don't get the grocery ads through the mail, you can usually download them from the store's website or app. As you spot items that are on sale, make note of the ones you are interested in under "On Sale." Then, work them into your menus for the week.
Step 5 Review your meals for variety.
Aim to have something from each of the food groups in most of your meals. This is the simplest way to make sure your meals are healthy. It is also a smart idea to plan for leftovers. For example, if you are making a big pot of spaghetti on Monday, work it into your menu plan later in the week to be sure it doesn't go to waste.
Step 6 Stay within budget.
It's perfectly fine to use your food dollars as you need to each week. However, if you happen to find yourself under your budget and there are good specials on items your family uses regularly, try to stock up. If you stick to this method, these bargains will be put to good use before you know it.