Does meal planning each week take you forever?
There were times when it used to take me hours. And then after all of that planning, I’d still have to go and shop for ingredients.
I’d end up without things I did need, and with things I didn’t, and I was wasting so much precious time.
Plus, being a mom made it all that much more complicated.
This week, I’m showing you how I finally simplified meal planning to only take me around 30 minutes per week…
How I Meal Plan Every Week in Less Than 30 Minutes
Every weekend, while my husband is entertaining our toddler (very important), I sit down with my favorite cookbooks, my computer, a notebook, and a pencil.
I begin by focusing on dinners. In total, I choose about 5-6 dinner recipes because I know there will be a night or two where I don’t feel like cooking something proper, or we need to finish off leftovers.
However, I don’t choose all of the dinners at once.
Each time I land on a recipe, whether it’s in my cookbooks or on Pinterest, I’ll write it down on my notebook and keeping the recipe open, switch to my computer.
Then I add all of the ingredients that I don’t already have to a Walmart Grocery order.
This saves me the step of writing a shopping list.
Then, I choose the next dinner recipe, and again, enter the needed ingredients into Walmart Grocery.
Once I finish with 5-6 dinners, I round out the meal plan with 2-3 breakfast options and 2-3 lunch options.
I add anything else we still need to my grocery order, and then submit it for pickup either Sunday evening or Monday morning. (I prefer Sundays because then my husband can do the pickup and carry all our groceries to our third story apartment).
It is THAT simple.
Here are some tips I have for you as you work to simplify your own meal planning system…
Time-Saving Tips for Meal Planning
Recycle favorite recipes
Part of what used to take me SO SO long was that I felt like I needed to be cooking brand new recipes every night of the week.
I finally started to realize that not only was did that make meal planning take for-flippin-ever, but it also cost me more time cooking during the week because I wasn’t familiar with the recipes.
I still try to make one or two new recipes a week, but for the most part, I stick to tried and true favorites.
Skip the shopping list (and the shopping)
Before becoming a mom, I really liked grocery shopping.
Even after becoming a mom, I still like getting out and doing errands, but mom-brain is no joke, and when you’ve got a little one in tow, you’re likely to be even more forgetful and scattered.
It took me a long time to get up the courage to let someone else pick my groceries for me, but seriously, it’s one of the best things I ever did.
I save SO much time because I don’t have to write a shopping list, I don’t have to go to the store, I don’t have to shop, and I don’t have to wait in checkout lines.
Another thing that simplifies meal planning for me is that I don’t “schedule” meals anymore.
I used to write out which day of the week we’d have which meal… which is all well and good, but I’d just end up moving things around all week anyway.
Now, I just make a simple list and keep in with my other planning supplies. Each day, I’ll check my list and decide what we’re going to have that night.
Once I’ve cooked it, I cross it off so that I can clearly see what I’ve made and what options are left.
You could also write this list on a sticky note and put it in your weekly planner.
Meal plan the same day every week
Get in the routine of meal planning around the same time every week.
It might not seem like a big deal, but it does make a difference. It used to be if we got “behind” on my meal schedule because we were eating up leftovers or I didn’t feel like cooking, I would just keep pushing the remaining meals forward until I’d cooked all the recipes.
The result was that one week I’d get groceries on Monday, the next week Wednesday, the next Thursday, etc. It consistently threw off my weekly routine.
Now, I always do my meal planning on the weekend, and schedule my grocery pickup for Sunday if they have slots open. (Otherwise, I get them Monday morning).
If I have recipes “left over” from the previous week that I still have all of the ingredients for, I will push it to my list for the following week, but still meal plan and pickup on schedule.
Don’t get fancy
You don’t have to be a gourmet chef every night of the week.
You can save yourself a lot of hassle by opting for meals that are simple to make and don’t require every dish in your entire kitchen.
I love crockpot recipes, soups, one skillet meals and casseroles.
Incorporate ingredients you already have
Make sure to take into account food that you already have in your kitchen!
It makes things simpler because your fridge and cabinets won’t become overly full, you’ll save money by needing to buy less, and it’ll save you the frustration of having to throw out food that’s gone bad.
Now I want to hear from you!
How do you do your meal planning each week (if at all)? What are your pain points?