Meal planning is hard. I get it. I totally do. And you know what, that’s ok. It’s ok to struggle with something.
As much as I struggle with meal planning, I know that it’s the best thing for me and my husband. I know that I have more success of eating healthy if I plan ahead and go grocery shopping for the week.
These tips are things that help me with the struggles of meal planning.
On the weekends (specifically Saturdays), there are so many better things I’d rather be doing than spending about an hour deciding what to make for the week.
Especially when the weather is gorgeous – like it is now. I want to be outside, shopping, or just walking around. It doesn’t really matter, but I definitely don’t want to be sitting and coming up with a grocery list.
Taking the time to actually write down what I am going to buy makes me more accountable to actually buy the food and cook, like I said I would.
Just set aside 30-45 minutes while your husband watches some show on the DVR and go to town. I usually pull out all my cookbooks and start looking through them to find recipes I want to make that next week.
Don’t over commit
Some weeks I get so excited about cooking that I get too ambitious. I think I will cook 4-5 meals that week, and that just isn’t realistic to our current lifestyle.
We go out to eat at least once a week and then I like to have leftovers the other days. Find what works best for you and your family and use that as a guide.
I found that 3 dinners/meals are the best for us. Any more and I am more unlikely to want to cook them.
Buy all your groceries over the weekend
Trust me on this one. Your meat will last – I promise – almost all week. And those veggies will typically stay fresh all week as well.
Why is this better than going to the store every day? Well, you will kill the urge to buy junk food if you shop all during one day – and buy only what’s on your list.
My husband and I have been doing this for a while now (I sometimes don’t have the energy to go grocery shopping after work, so I go on Sundays), and we have had great success with it so far.
One thing is that we go together. He will put the veggies into baggies for me and I will run around and get everything I need. This is especially true when we go to the Farmer’s Market.
I can park him somewhere and run into the produce part and get what I need. It’s pretty fast and efficient. The farmer’s market also doesn’t have a ton of junk food to buy, so that helps us in that arena.
Shop the perimeter at the grocery store
But I know that not everyone has the DeKalb Farmer’s Market to go to, so here’s my advice for the grocery store. Shop around the perimeter.
Almost all of your processed foods are in the aisles, so try to avoid those if you can. I know it’s not always possible, but try.
I usually only go down the canned tomato aisle and the International Food aisle. I try to avoid the others at all costs. I don’t need anything in them, so why walk down them?
I know that there are struggles to meal planning, but the benefits outweigh it for me. I would rather spend a little bit of time over the weekend, knowing that I will be helping myself and my husband by cooking more during the week. The amount of fast food we have consumed can get out of control.
I ask my husband to help me when I prepare our food for the week. 🙂
Oh that’s a good idea. I tried that and had a hard time cooking all through the day. I know it works, but it’s exhausting to do.
It isn’t really complicated—I just cook in huge batches that are a week’s worth of packed lunch. That way we don’t have to leave the office to eat out during lunch break.
Yes! It’s so hard, but it’s worth it in my opinion. What did you do to meal plan? And how was it to do it for a whole month?
Man, I know how it feels! I tried to meal plan for the whole of June, and it was exhausting, to be honest. We did save a lot of money from eating out, though!
I really think sticking to 3-4 meals a week is a good balance. I personally have a hard time if it’s more than that and we make other plans during the week. I think 3-4 are for when we don’t have much going on that week. It just depends – but I am all about not wasting food.
I used to have a hard time with over committing, too. Now, I plan 3-4 that I will definitely make and then make sure I have non-perishable ingredients for some of my go-to recipes in the house in case I end up cooking more. I never know what our week will look like since we tend to make day-of plans a lot, but doing this means less wasted food because if we don’t end up cooking it I’ll make it the next week.
I have tried writing down and categorizing everything, but it doesn’t always work out well for me. I don’t know why, but I didn’t like having to keep 2 lists (one of the meals I was cooking, and one with the groceries listed). I like having everything together. But that is a great idea. I just hate having to write things down twice, I guess.
Yes! I am the same way. I personally can’t cook healthy food if I don’t plan ahead. The thought of me actually getting into the kitchen and cooking if I haven’t planned ahead or if I need to go to the store after work, just won’t work. I have tried it and it never works well.
I relate with lots of these! I usually cook dinner everynight except on Sundays when we eat with my in-laws and we have leftovers of each meal for lunch the next day. I try to avoid the middle section as much as I can too, but usually have to whip in for canned tomatoes, coffee, pasta, rice, peanut butter and those types of things! Another thing I do, which sounds tedious but only takes a few seconds is when I have my grocery list, I rewrite it by section…I put the produce all together, the middle section stuff altogether, etc. Whenever I skip this step I end up overlooking stuff and have to backtrack in the store a million times haha…this way I have a plan and can whip through each “section” really fast!
I love meal planning. I didn’t make a plan for these first few weeks of May because it’s been crazy and we’re going out of town soon, but it makes dinner time so hard each night.
Meal planning has been so great for me. A piece of advice…start small. Like 2 meals a week just so you don’t overbuy and decide you can’t make it. Don’t waste food – I am saying this from personal experience. The aisles are so hard to avoid, but I usually try to keep my blinders on as I walk down them for what I need.
We do something very similar, but sometimes it’s still so hard to go to the store and actually cook the food that we buy. We have been so bad about that in the past. I might even start getting a board to write our meals on in the kitchen. We will see about that, though.
I’m really hoping to start meal planning soon! Avoiding the aisles sounds like the key to it all. Once I start walking down them it’s always game over!
We meal plan every Sunday and try to hit the grocery store once a week. We look at our weekly schedule and plan meals according to nightly time constraints. It is a huge time saver for us!