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laptop on a kitchen work surface showing a microsoft onenote meal planner

8 Tips on meal planning for the week

recipe running a bed and breakfast Sep 04, 2023

Meal planning for the week has been proven to help you eat more healthily, lose weight, reduce food waste, save both money and time.

Read more on my blog post >> 5 Reasons to start meal planning today

However, despite all of the advantages of meal planning for the week, it can be difficult to get started, especially when you're looking at an entire week or month of empty meal plans and wondering where to start.

Here are some tips that may help you develop a consistent meal planning habit:

1. Schedule Your Meal Planning for the Week BEFORE Grocery Shopping

If planning an entire week's worth of meals seems overwhelming, you can align your meal planning with your grocery shopping schedule. For instance, if you're able to visit the shops several times a week, plan your meals before each shopping trip. Make sure you never shop when hungry though!

2. Save Your Meal Plans

Instead of starting from scratch every time, save your meal plans for future use.

This is where using a digital meal planner, like this Google Sheets one can really save you time. Just make a new copy each week and swap out any meals you want to change.

Ensure you save meal plans, and grocery lists, for special occasions like Christmas and Thanksgiving to avoid reinventing the wheel each year.

3. Record All Your Favorite Meals

Create lists of favorite meals and recipes you want to try to save time when searching for recipes online.

A favourite meals list is a handy source of inspiration, preventing you from always preparing the same dishes with certain ingredients.

This Microsoft Onenote planner includes meal plan templates and favourite meal inspiration pages, where you can link to your recipes online.

4. Implement Theme Nights

To simplify decision-making during the week, consider having theme nights. You can organise these by the main ingredient, such as chicken night, meat-free night, or by cuisine type (Italian, French, Mexican, Pizza, Taco, Takeaway).

5. Embrace Batch Cooking

Having pre-cooked meals in your fridge and freezer can be a lifesaver for those days when you don't feel like cooking. Even doubling up on ingredients while cooking can provide an extra meal with minimal preparation.

6. Spread a Meal Throughout the Week

When you're batch cooking, rather than freezing the second portion immediately, think about eating it the next day. For instance, save half of the bolognese sauce you had with spaghetti for dinner and enjoy it for lunch the next day on top of a baked potato. Alternatively, add chili powder and beans to transform it into chili con carne to serve with rice.

7. Keep an Ongoing Grocery List

Using a grocery list not only ensures you don't forget anything but also helps you save money and avoid purchasing unplanned, unhealthy snacks.

Add items to your grocery list as you plan your meals and keep it easily accessible to update whenever you remember something you need to buy. 

8. Duplicate Your Grocery List

If you buy many of the same items every week, save time by duplicating your grocery lists and reusing them. Make sure to save grocery lists for special occasions, such as holidays like Christmas, to avoid reinventing the wheel each year.

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