Have you ever thought about meal planning? I know, it may seem like additional work but it could be a great time saver for you. Here’s why. With meal planning, you can plan your grocery list. You may save money when you meal plan because you aren’t buying things you don’t need. And it’s a great answer to the, “what are we eating tonight” question. You can easily refer to your weekly meal plan and to help you with that, I’m including a weekly menu printable. I also want to share 4 easy tips to guide meal planning for busy moms who are trying to get fit. Even if you aren’t in that category, I hope that these tips are helpful!
Meal planning, as a special needs mom, has also helped me with creating routine and predictability. It also helps that my autistic daughter loves to go grocery shopping. Meal planning and prepping helps her to be more involved and works on her functional life skills.
If you are new to meal planning, here are a few things to know before implementing it into your routine for you or you and your family.
Easy Tips to Guide Meal Planning
Start With a Master Food List
The first place to start with meal planning is with a master food list. You can print these out online, by season, or you can make your own list. Ideally what you are doing is narrowing down the foods you like, the foods you do not like, the ones you are allergic to, and the ones you have never tried. This master list will help you narrow down your recipes and get foods for your meal planning that work for you personally. You can also mark down how many calories each have and how they can be used.
Consider Your Goal
Make sure you consider your goals with your meal planning. For example, you may be looking for a way to reduce your stress during the week. Meal planning may offer you more downtime and more time to enjoy being with your family. Then again, you may want to drop several pounds. If that is the case, you want to keep an eye on your caloric intake. Bodybuilding goals have even more considerations to reach your goal. Overall, you should consider long-term, short-term, and overall goals before you start meal planning.
Consider Your Containers
One thing many people do not consider about meal planning are the containers they will be using. This can make a big difference in how you plan out your meals. Most people do use containers that have several slots for protein, vegetables, fruits, and sauces. If you will primarily be doing full meals, then these are ideal. You may also want to bento boxes, soup containers, or other options. Consider what types of meals you want to have and then make sure you have the containers for them.
Considering your timeframe is something that goes along with meal planning basics. You need to make sure that you are planning for a set amount of days. Most people do weekly meal planning while larger families may do planning for the whole month. The timeframe along with the food lists and goals can greatly affect your budget, so considering a timeframe is vital.
These basic principles of meal planning can help you get started.
And here is the free weekly menu planner. Once you have your meal plan set up, use this sheet to guide your weekly meals. Print off as many as needed. You can also type directly into the form and then print them off.
Remember, there is no set defined way of meal planning. The idea is to work with the diet you want, plan the meals, and make sure they work for you and your lifestyle. It may take a little time to get things on a solid track, but once they are you will find meal planning to be an easier route on many levels.