Meal Planning for Beginners

July 4, 2018
Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning: A basic introduction if you're interested in how to start saving time, money, and food with meal planning!

meal planning prevents the dreaded daily question: “hey babe, what do you want to do for dinner?”

i  pretty much HATE this question. not only because i hate having to stop what i’m doing up to three times a day to figure out what the hell i should eat now, but also because i all too frequently simply don’t have an answer and am now too hungry to care much.

enter: meal planning.

spending time once a week (probably on the day of the week you already devote to reviewing your planners and to-do lists) to figure out your meal plan and grocery list for the upcoming week will ease you of this first-world burden.

while i am grateful every day for the warm food and cool drinks i can have any time i want, the fact remains that having to figure out what to eat over and over and over again puts me in an awful mood. so, i had to make a change. meal planning was that change.

i’m not perfect at meal planning, but my husband and i are starting to get it down to a science that works for us. here are the basics to meal planning in case you’re interested in getting your food choices, grocery shopping, spending, and food waste under control.

Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning: A basic introduction if you're interested in how to start saving time, money, and food with meal planning!

what is meal planning?

meal planning is precisely what it sounds like: you plan out your meals for the upcoming week or two, write out your grocery lists based on those meals, and in so doing, save time, money, and food!

basic step 1: decide on your meals.

how does this help you? it saves you time and brain power.

instead of taking time out of your day–over and over again–to decide what you are going to have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you do all your deciding at once. in one fell swoop, you sit down with your calendar or planner and figure out all your meals. then, during the week, you just refer to your list and don’t agonize over yet another hangry compromise you need to make with your spouse.

basic step 2: make your grocery list.

how does this help you? it saves you money.

after deciding on the meals that will work best with your schedule, cravings, what’s in season, and whatever else you like to consider, you create your grocery list. because you shop for groceries with a plan, you buy only what you need. no more money wasted on random ingredients you can’t think of a way to use and end up throwing out.

basic step 3: prepare your meals. 

how does this help you? you eat better and waste less food.

because you have mapped out your meals and shopped for groceries with this plan in mind, you are less likely to waste food. no more “how cute are these heirloom tomatoes–i’m so ina garten! i’ll figure out what to do with them later.”

the ultimate guide that explained stress-free meal planning to me

thekitchn has become one of my go-to blogs for all things food related. they have a great beginner’s guide to meal planning that you should definitely check out no matter how familiar you are with meal planning. in fact, here are two tips i got from thekitchn:

  1. check your planner to get an idea of your schedule for the upcoming week (any dinner dates out? any late nights where you know you’ll have to get something at a drive-thru? etc.).
  2. start with dinners, which are more exciting and usually where we need more planning help.

stay tuned for my detailed meal planning process!

for now, i’ll leave you to go educate yourself on some basic meal planning tips from the experts. for those of you who love watching more detailed planning processes, stay tuned for a walk-through and video of how i do my weekly meal planning, coming soon.

Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning: A basic introduction if you're interested in how to start saving time, money, and food with meal planning!

got any meal planning experiences to share with us? leave your tips and questions in the comments below!

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