Monthly Meal Planning

Meal planning is a great tool that can not only save time and money but can also prevent unnecessary stress about deciding what to eat for each meal. A little planning can go a long way and can help prevent poor food choices. Creating weekly menus, prepping ingredients and keeping an organized pantry are just a few ways you can master meal planning. Best Food Facts registered dietitian Sarah Downs shares with us her top tips for meal planning.

  1. Make an inventory list. Look at what you have on hand in your pantry and refrigerator before you start planning meals for the week. This will keep you organized, help you stay on budget and prevent food waste.
  2. Go week by week. Write down the meals you would like to eat on a weekly calendar. Make note if certain days need to be quick meals or meals on the go. Make sure the meal plan is somewhere you can see it — I like to put mine on the refrigerator.
  3. Make a recipe list. Start by using familiar recipes, but also try to incorporate at least one new dish each week. Reach out to friends and family to find out some of their favorites!
  4. Visualize the plate. When planning each meal, keep in mind that fruits and vegetables should cover half the plate, lean protein should cover a quarter, and the rest of the plate should be grains, preferably whole.
  5. Double your recipes. Making large batches of recipes on the weekend (e.g. baked chicken or roasted veggies) make for easy weeknight meals that can be modified to fit your family’s needs.
  6. Plan for leftovers. Using leftovers and turning them into another recipe can save time and prevent food waste.
  7. Get everyone involved. Encouraging family members to help with the planning and creation of meals can be fun, divides the work, and is a great way to spend time together.
  8. Stay flexible. While following your weekly menu is important, the menu isn’t written in stone. Feel free to swap things around.
  9. Set aside time each week for meal planning. At first meal planning can be a daunting task, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes much easier and less time consuming. Holding yourself accountable each week.
  10. Try out different tools to see what works best for you. There are many different apps, printables and meal-planning services out there that can help with different parts of meal planning.

Do you use meal planning? What are your favorite tips?

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The image “Calendar*” by Dafne Cholet is licensed under CC BY 2.0.