Do you want to know how to make a meal plan without tears and sweat? This easy guide will show you how.

I hope last week’s post on reasons to make a weekly meal plan piqued your interest in meal planning and that you are ready to make one with me. Many of us think that meal planning takes a lot of time. In reality, meal planning saves us a lot of time and money.

Are you ready to learn how to make a meal plan? OK, let’s get to work!

How to Make a Meal Plan

1. Decide to do it! 

This step took me years. From finding out that people actually plan their meals to making my first meal plan was a long process. I kept postponing it as I did not see the benefits. And of course I did not see the benefits. All I did was talk to myself in my head about meal options. I did not sit down, plan my meals, and execute the plan. But once I got over the resistance to meal planning, things went smoother.

2. Decide if you want to have leftovers.

Sometimes we eat part of the leftovers and I freeze some, especially if I triple the recipe.

Here is another example. I roast a chicken for supper and we eat it with mashed potatoes, steamed green beans and carrots. The next day I use the chicken breast to make chicken gluten-free wraps.

3. Decide if you want to plan only your dinners or you want to include breakfasts, lunch, and snacks.

I like to plan all my meals, including 2 snacks for the children every day as I don’t want to spend too much time thinking what food I will give my kids next.

4. Decide which day of the week you will make your meal plan. 

As I go shopping on Saturdays, I finish my meal plan and shopping list the night before.

How to make a meal plan that is easy, doable, and helps you plan delicious recipes.

5. Choose the recipes and make your meal plan

Look up recipes on your computer, mobile device, recipe binder, or favourite cookbook. Whichever methods work for you – these are the ones you will be more likely to stick with.

I use a combination of the above: my site, other blogs, cookbooks, and printed recipes.

When you choose the recipes for the week, take into account:

  • every member of your family, their likes, dislikes, and dietary restrictions – you can even involve them in the meal planning. Ask them what they would like to eat this week and add the request to the recipe list.
  • ingredients you already have. Choose recipes that include them.
  • the produce that is in season so you can take advantage of lower prices.
  • activities you have scheduled during the week, which might not allow cooking time on certain days.
  • if you have a planned restaurant, takeout meal or dinner at a friend’s house.

Using a slow-cooker or a crock-pot is an easy way to have a delicious dinner ready with very little effort in the evening. I recently bought a ceramic crock-pot (I avoid non-stick coating) from a garage sale for 5 dollars and I love it.

6. Make a shopping list.   

My shopping list includes items I buy at 2 stores (very rarely I go to 2 other stores during the week). Each store gets its own shopping list (on the same piece of paper). I know which items I can’t find at the first store so I get them at the second one.

7. Choose which day of the week you go shopping.  

I chose to go shopping on Saturdays morning as my family is not up yet, my husband stays with the kids at home, the store is not busy, and the shelves are freshly stocked.

99% of the time I go on Saturday morning at 7 am when the first store opens. I am home by 8:30 am and I can have breakfast with my family. During my kids’ nap time I go to the second store where I buy the things I did not find at the first store. Once a month or so I go to 2 other stores during the week.

8. And last but not least, when you find a recipe that your whole family loves, keep it and include in future meal plans.

You are now ready to start cooking!

Here’s a 5-day sample meal plan for you and your family.

Would you like to make a meal plan this week? If you do, I would love to help you out. If you have any questions after you read this article, please comment below or leave me a message.