Wow it only took me 2 and a half years to FINALLY start a mini series here on the blog all about meal planning & food prepping. I’ve been meal planning for myself for years and I constantly get questions such as “how do you get started?”, “how do you stay so organized?”, “what if you change your mind about what you want to eat during the week?”, “how do you start to food prep?”, etc.
I figured I’d break a lot of the common questions down into individual blog posts making it easier for you to learn from and start adapting techniques to fit your lifestyle!
How Do You START Meal Planning?
The biggest hurdle in pretty much anything in life is just getting started. With a million different recipes on the internet and little time to decide what recipes you want to make, starting meal planning can be overwhelming. But I’m here to promise you IT’S NOT. It saves you money, stress and time throughout the week when you want to spend your extra time outside of work doing things you love and enjoy!
Tip #1: Choose One Main Thing to Focus Your Meal Around Each Day
Typically I choose a protein, now that doesn’t have to be meat, it can be quinoa, lentils, fish, chicken, turkey, bison, organic beef, etc to center my meal around. I use my meal planning template and jot down a protein for each day of the week. From there I build out what I might want to have with it. Such as if I chose turkey for a meal I might decide to make ground turkey tacos, or turkey chili. Or if I chose quinoa maybe I’d make stuffed squash with quinoa or quinoa “fried rice.” Choosing a protein first helps you narrow down your choices but also lets you get creative with how you want to create the meal.
Tip #2: Go Through the Grocery Ads Before Meal Planning
Every Sunday I use the grocery ads or apps on my phone to search what products are on sale that I would typically buy. I jot those down on a piece of paper and put a star next to the ones that sound good. Such as if they’re having a special on organic chicken legs I’ll use that for the protein of one meal then freeze the rest for meals in the future. Try and build out your meals with what produce is on sale as well since produce that is on sale is typically seasonally you’ll find it much cheaper to shop this way.
Tip #3: Go Through Your Freezer
Speaking of freezer, every Sunday when I begin to meal prep I take a look at what I have on hand in the freezer and what items I might need to use up sooner. I again look for the protein first to see if I have any leftover chicken or meat so I can save money. If I have a big thing of frozen soup I’ll heat that up for lunches and one meal, if I have frozen enchiladas/an entire meal I’ll save that for a night of the week where I know I’ll be busy and/or exhausted.
Tip #4: Make Sure to Add a Variety of Different Flavored Meals
I try and add a variety of flavors to my dishes throughout the week so I don’t get bored and I give myself more choices. Such as having one Italian flavored dish, one simply seasoned dish and maybe one mexican flavored. I change up the flavors by week depending on what type of mood I’m in that way I never get bored. If I have an Italian flavored dish for Monday and I feel like the Mexican flavored dish I have written for Wednesday then I just flip-flop them. Since I already have the ingredients on hand this makes it much easier to eat what I feel like without having to spend more money going back to the grocery store. If I’ve bought a large bundle of produce I try to incorporate it into those different meals as well. That way I’m saving money by not buying new produce per each meal. It also, again, forces me to be a bit more creative with my meals.
Hopefully those tips were enough to get you started! Please use my meal planning template and grocery shopping list to help you out. And as always, please feel free to tweet me @brittsblurbs or email me email@example.com with any questions!