In previous posts, I've talked about how food tracking helps me stay focused with my goals. Meal planning now goes hand in hand with that.
If I don't at least have an idea of what's for dinner then I go into panic mode, get flustered and typically say "let's go out to eat."
Eating out is fine once in a while. I love it! But, I have no reason to make it multiple nights a week. So, I try to dedicate once a week to thinking about what I want to make in the upcoming 7 days.
Just so you know, this is NOT meal prepping in advance. It's simply sitting down and planing a menu for the week. I also find that meal planning really helps me keep my grocery budget in check because I don't have to do many impulse buys (usually junk food, let's be honest!)
Also, a plan should be flexible. If you can't stomach the idea of designating certain nights for certain foods, no problem! You can switch meal ideas around once you have your plan in place!
Sound intimidating? I get it. For a long time, it was for me, too. I have a few ways to simplify it for you this week. And it all starts with making one Master Meal Plan!
3 STEPS TO MAKE A MASTER MEAL PLAN
1. START WITH WHAT YOU KNOW! As I thought about making a meal plan, I realized I had to figure out what I already had in my rotation.We all have our go-to meals that the family loves or get us thorough in a pinch. So, begin your Master Meal Plan by writing down all the meals that are regulars in your house.
2. ADD IN NEW RECIPES TO TRY. We all have those days where we feel like we're in a meal rut. Break it by going through some of the cookbooks collecting dust on the shelf and find a few recipes to try. Or, use the internet to find some. I included a slideshow of a trio of my most recent recipes just below!
3. ORGANIZE YOUR LIST! Once you have a decent list of meals, you need to find a way to make it easy to organize your plan! This is where the fun begins.
I organize my master meal plan on Trello, an online workflow system. I create cards with each meal idea (including a clickable link for online recipes! WOOT! or cookbook titles/page numbers). I organized all the cards into columns (Instant Pot, Sheet Pan Meals, Crock Pot, etc). My first two columns are "This Week" and "Next Week." Then, I can just move the cards over every Thursday when I meal plan. And, yes...I do include nights out cards!
Want to see how this all works? Click here to see my Trello Master Meal Plan!
But, what if you're a paper and pen type person! I've got you, too!
I saw this idea on the Half Me Facebook Community Private Page by a member named Evangaline Thaler. I got her permission to share this brilliant idea with all of you. She used a sheet of grid paper to draw up her master plan, seen here:
Her organization/layout is a little different. She created one paper master list, made numerous copies and then uses a fresh one each week to circle the meals for the upcoming week. Evangeline said it helps her each week to start with a full sheet instead of from scratch every time.
Here's her explanation:
"I organize the days based on the starch I make with the meal. My husband and kids and I all eat the same I just use more veggies and portion control the carbs or on a night that is really calorie rich I will eat leftovers from a day that was a bit lighter. The week is the most structured and the weekend is used to prep and try new recipes or occasionally go out. On shopping day I circle what I will make that week, check the pantry and make a list of what I need. I try not to repeat meals within the month, except for pizza as per the kids request."
As you can see, she also color codes the meals based on a variety of things (type of meat, vegetable-centered, etc.) You can plug in your own meals and make your own system! I think I might play with my own system to give a variation of this a try! Just click the button below to get your FREE MASTER MEAL PLAN WORKSHEET!
What do you think of these meal planning tips? Which ones are you going to try? Let me know in the comments!
I'm Marie. I'm working toward a 200 lb. weight loss goal. I'm doing it with baby steps. Follow my journey here.