Meal planning is one of my favourite things to do to stay on top of dinners each night. I don’t plan out every meal, just dinners.
By meal planning for the month (or even just for the week) I’m saving myself time and money. I’m not stuck every night trying to come up with ideas for dinner. I just have to look at my meal plan in the morning to see if I need to pull anything (i.e meat) out of the freezer to defrost. Meal planning saves me money because each week before I go grocery shopping, I see what’s planned for dinners each night and I just buy the foods needed for that (plus whatever’s needed for breakfast and lunches). This saves me from buying more than I need and having food waste. I also recommend putting your dinner meal plan on the fridge so everyone can see, this way you don’t have to constantly answer, “What’s for dinner?”
I use Day Designer’s free PDF for weekly meal planning. To save on paper I decided I could fit multiple weeks on one paper by printing 4 copies on one page; so each week is one-quarter of the page. Since I plan dinners at the beginning of the month for the whole month, if there’s four weeks, I can fit the entire month of dinners on one page. I start my planning by looking at our calendar to see what’s going on. Nights that either of us are busy, or already have plans for, I don’t plan dinner that night. I also don’t plan dinner on the weekends as we usually just graze or eat leftovers then. This leaves me usually with 4-5 dinners to plan a week. I try to balance and rotate through different types of meals and proteins. Otherwise we’d be having meat and potatoes every night! 😉 So one night chicken may be the protein, beef another night, fish another night, and something quick and easy (like chicken fingers and fries) on a night I know I won’t have time to make some special.
On the weekend (typically Sunday) I plan for my lunches. I typically eat the same thing each day which makes it a little easier. If I’m going to make fish or rice I make enough portions for the week, because it takes just as much time to cook one cup of rice as it does two. Once everything’s cooked I portion and put everything into containers for lunch. I then go through and portion our fruits and vegetables so that they’re easier to grab on the go and put into lunches. This way in the morning I just have to grab my containers of cooked proteins, veggies or fruit, and nuts, and my lunch is ready!
So that’s how I meal plan for the month and each week. It takes a little while to get into the habit, but I’ve found its something that really helps me, so that’s why it’s stuck! I’d love to hear any tips or tricks that you’re currently doing that helps you with meal planning and prepping in your home, just leave a comment below!