I’m going to show you how to make a meal plan simple and a part of your daily routine. After you read this free meal-planning guide, you will know how to meal plan for the week and you’ll learn tips and tricks to make it as easy as possible while also saving some money while you meal plan.
I have also created a free weekly menu planning template so you can print and use it right away. This meal prep plan printable also has a grocery list template on it so that you can meal plan and create your grocery list at the same time. It’s perfect for meal planning for beginners. Let’s get started.
What is Meal Planning?
Meal prep plan, meal planning, or menu planning is where you plan the meals you are going to have throughout the week or month ahead of time. If you do not meal plan it means you are making dinner each day without knowing what you are going to cook ahead of time.
Not having a menu plan can lead to you feeling frustrated, annoyed if you don’t have all the ingredients you need, and unprepared if you’re rushing to get dinner on the table. If this is you, let’s see if we can make life a little easier with this weekly menu planning template.
4 Easy Tips to Successful Meal Planning for Beginners
Why You Want to Meal Plan
Take a few minutes to think about all the reasons you want to start meal planning. Is it because you want to save time? Eat better? Feel healthier? Maybe you want to save some money on your grocery list?
Writing down the reasons you want to start meal planning will help guide you when it comes time to plan the meals you want to eat for the week.
If you want to save time you will want to look for quick meal ideas. If you want to save money you want to start your menu planning by planning your meals around what you have in your fridge and pantry right now. If you’re looking for a great and affordable course on how to meal plan and save money this course called Dishes for Dollars is fantastic.
Want to save some money on groceries? Have a look at the flyers to see what’s on sale and then build your menu plan around those items.
Don’t Overthink It
Just because you are meal planning it doesn’t mean that you have to make extravagant meals. Keep it simple, use meals you already know and love. Pick meals you know how to make and your kids will like.
The goal of weekly meal prep is that we make life simpler and make your life easier.
Use What You Have in Your Fridge and Pantry
It’s always a good idea to have a look at what you already have in the fridge and your pantry before you decide what meals you will eat this week.
If you have veggies in the fridge you need to use up, plan a meal around those veggies for the beginning of the week.
Do you have cans in your pantry that have been there for a long time? Think of a meal you can make to use those up. This will save you money when meal planning for your family each week.
Stretch out your Meals and be Practical
Some meals you can get a couple of meals from. For example, you could make a big lasagna or a big pot of chili or soup. These meals could be used for two dinners in a row or you could freeze the leftovers into freezer bags and use them for a meal another week. You can also eat leftovers for your lunches the next day.
Remember the end goal here is to make life easier while menu planning for the week.
Step by Step Instructions
Make a List of all the reasons you want to create a meal plan. Remember these reasons when you go to plan your meals.
Examples would be:
Save money – check out your flyers
Save time – Quick Easy Meals
Eat Healthier – Quick Healthy Meals
Make a List of Meals you Already Know and Love – This list will make sure you’re making meals you already know and love and ones that your kids love. You don’t want to go crazy and start making new recipes each week and end up stressed out if they don’t turn out well or your kids don’t like them.
Keep meals that are already a hit and easy to make in your weekly meal plan to keep it easy and simple. If you have a busy week, take that into consideration.
Print out your Weekly Meal Planning and Grocery List Template – Print out your weekly meal planning template so that as you find recipes and meals you want you can add them to your printable right way.
The menu planning template has a grocery list template on it so while you are meal planning you can compile your grocery list so you don’t forget any ingredients.
Search Pinterest – This is a great resource if you want to find specific meals. If your goal is to save money search for cheap meal ideas. If you want healthy recipes search for healthy recipes. I use Pinterest all the time when I’m meal planning for the week or month. The other thing you can do is grab a meal prepping idea book for inspiration.
Check Your Local Flyers for Sales – Looking to save some money? Have a look at your flyers to see if there are deals you can take advantage of. Plan your meals around what meat is on sale and what produce is on sale. This is a big money saver!
If there’s a really big sale on thinking about possibly buying a few more and freezing it for later if possible might be a good idea.
Some Easy Menu Planning Meal Ideas
Slow Cooker Meals Ideas
I love using my slow cooker. It’s so easy and I can have a meal cooking in the crock pot at night or while I’m working so it’s ready for dinner time.
Here are some of my favorite slow cooker meals: Stew, Roast and Potatoes, Chili, Pulled Pork
Freezer Meals Ideas
Want Super Healthy Frozen Meals? Check out Evive Nutrition Lunches and Smoothies. They are my ultimate favorite frozen meals because they are so healthy. Pure ingredients, no fillers, Vegan, and ready in minutes you just can’t go wrong.
These meals are a part of my everyday meal plan.
Benefits of Meal Planning
Meal planning is an easy way to save money because you are going to the grocery store prepared. By having your meal plan and grocery list with you you don’t risk going to the grocery store without a plan and buying unnecessary items.
When you go to the grocery store unprepared you’re more likely to grab items you don’t need and might end up wasting. Try to stick to your shopping list and you’ll see some money savings week to week.
Another tip: Before you go grocery shopping make sure you’re not hungry so you don’t buy all the things you don’t need just because you’re hungry.
Without a weekly meal plan, you run the risk of multiple trips to the store which leads to buying more times and running the risk of more unnecessary purchases. Multiple stops at the stores on a weekly basis can add up quickly. Try to limit your trips to once a week.
This one just makes sense, creating a menu plan that works for you helps you be more productive because you already know what you’re making all week and you don’t need to waste time multiple times a week looking at what you have and trying to come up with a plan.
Make Weekly Meal Planning Even Easier
PlateJoy a Meal Planning App
PlateJoy is a program that plans your meals and creates your grocery list for you! Amazing right?
You take their quiz so they know what type of meals you want and what your goals are. Use code NUTRITION21 to save $21! You will fill out questions like how many people you are servings etc and they come up with your meal plan for you. Everything is done and ready to go for you!
Your meal plans are customized for you and your family. Just take their personalization quiz so that they can take into consideration what your goals are, what type of meals you want, your time restraints, weight loss goals, and your health needs.
You will have great meals you can cook at home all planned out for you.
Whatever your meal planning goals are PlateJoy can create a meal plan for you. Don’t like certain ingredients? Just add it to your profile and it’s gone.
Plate Joy is pretty incredible, you can join now and try it for free. Canceling is super easy, but you won’t want to after you see how much time and money you’ll be saving.
Another amazing thing PlateJoy offers is grocery delivery! They’ve partnered with InstaCart to have your groceries delivered to you. How amazing is that?
This leads me to the next meal planning tip.
Another amazing way that I save time and you can do is to use your local grocery store’s delivery offer. After you’ve created your meal plan and grocery list just add it to an online order, set your time for grocery pick up or delivery and you’re done!
Time saved by having your groceries gathered for you. You can also use a personal shopper from InstaCart to deliver your groceries for you. They could have your delivery done in as little as two hours.
There are so many great options to save time for meal planning.
The Best Meal Planning Template
When I look for a meal planning template or printable I want one that has enough room for Breakfast (hint, overnight oats), Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks and I want a grocery list printable on it. I also enjoy something I can print off for free vs the meal planners you can buy.
You want something that is convenient, one page, and has everything you need. This meal planning printable does exactly that.
Meal Planning for Beginners Summary
Meal planning should be less intimidating for you now. Use the tips tricks and download your free meal planning printable with a grocery list so that you can save time, money and eat better starting today! Happy meal planning!