5 Simple Secrets to Writing a Successful Meal Plan

Yes, I am a meal planner… how obnoxiously 30-something and suburban of me.

Meal planning is all the rage these days, and I am sure you hear people talking about it ALL THE TIME. But the honest truth is that writing a successful meal plan will not only make your life easier, but you will save money at the grocery store, get rid of that ‘what’s for dinner’ conversation, and reduce your food waste exponentially.

The key to my statement above is a “successful” meal plan.

I am not being a hater and saying you aren’t successful at meal planning. I am saying I have been there before, and I know that Monday-Wednesday you feel like super mom, Thursday you plan starts becoming more of a ‘suggestion’, and by Friday everyone is eating Cheerios out of paper cups.

The meal planning struggle IS REAL, but here are some essential tips that help me write a meal plan that works:

  1. Before deciding on any recipes, check your schedule. Pay attention to what days you will be home with time to cook a nice family dinner, and what days you will get home from work late, have soccer practice, and so on. As you browse recipes, make sure the prep and cooking time fit your schedule with some room to spare.
  2. Match shelf dates of your produce to your plan. For example, don’t put guacamole on your plan for Friday then go pick super ripe avocados… grab some that will take time to mature and ripen by the day you planned your recipe. Also, don’t plan a recipe for the end of the week that has produce that spoils quickly.
  3. Now, check the weather! I work in the marine industry, so checking the weather for the week is second nature for me. I however don’t think all families check the weekly weather as part of their routine, especially when it comes to meal planning. Does this sound silly? Say Thursday is supposed to be 90 degrees, and you planned a dinner that bakes in the oven at 425 degrees for an hour. Your house is now sweltering, you are overheating, and the kids are extra whiny. MEAL. PLAN. FAIL. Plus, doesn’t a hot bowl of soup sound nice on a cold rainy day?
  4. Be okay with calling an audible. All of a sudden your schedules go to crap and everyone is extra busy the remainder of the week. Take one of your recipes and turn it into a version you can make in the crock-pot so that dinner is ready when you get home. If the weather changes, and hot temps hit a day early, do your hot weather meal early, and save that heavier one for when it cools off later in the week. This doesn’t mean completely abandon your plan, but don’t feel bad for playing a little musical chairs to make things work.
  5. Don’t go overboard and meal plan your lunches too. It is normal to eat a sandwich for lunch without having some elaborate plan to do so. Also, we tend to have lots of leftovers from our dinners… just incorporate them into lunches for the rest of the week! We like to do a roasted chicken on Mondays so we can use the leftover breast meat for salads and sandwiches the rest of the week. If you get too detailed I think you are more likely to burn yourself out on the idea of meal planning over anything else.

So, what do you think about these ideas, and are there any that you have already implemented at home? Let me know your secrets, I would love to hear them!

One last thought – I used to write my meal plan on a scratch pad with my grocery list. Never fail, I would accidentally throw my plan out when tossing my list after shopping! I have since switched to writing my plan on a cute dry erase calendar like this that I keep on my fridge.

No worries about misplacing the master plan this way! Link to shop below (affiliate).

U Brands Magnetic Dry Erase/Cork Weekly Calendar Board, 18 x 7.5 Inches, Silver Aluminum Frame $8.16!!!


Disclaimer: I am a member of the Amazon Affiliates program… I am not sponsored by any of these products, I just really like them and use them in my every-day life! I do however get a little kick-back if you purchase anything through the links provided. Prices are no different than if you were just shopping on your own 🙂

13 Replies to “5 Simple Secrets to Writing a Successful Meal Plan”

  1. Love it! I meal plan as well. I try to have a list visible in the kitchen as well as on my phone. Leftovers are our go-to’s for lunch! I have been just coming up with 5-6 meals and then using a checklist system depending on what I feel like making that day. 🙂

  2. Great tips! I started a goal of just 3 meals per week with the expectation of some left overs to cover the other nights, but this plan gives me the confidence that I could handle a few more nights.

  3. I do meal plan for every week actually. Including the little one. It saves time, money, leftovers.. It really works with me. To be honest, I spend quite some time to prepare it for each upcoming week. But I do not mind, it is worth 🙂

  4. Great tips! I actually follow all of them. 🙂 I cant’ believe it. Meal planning is bane of my week, but it’s worth it. I do write my meal plan on the back of my list …and have never lost it, miraculously, even with 2 kids at the store with me!

  5. I need to work on my meal plan. I’m at University and my mum keeps telling me that its much easier if I have a meal plan for the week. When I go back after holidays, I will try and do a plan. Thanks for the tips x

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