Meal Planning: How To Find One That Works

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Meal planning can be annoying. Sitting down to come up with meal ideas and your mind instantly goes blank. Or finding a meal plan that works for you. Trying to find new recipes.

Making sure you pick meals that hopefully everyone will eat. Or if you have an oddball with a food allergy. BTW – I’m the oddball with the food allergy since I am lactose intolerant.

You refuse to go to the store every couple of days with your small children. So making a meal plan is a must.

Whatever it may be I get that meal planning is not always simple. Meal planning and I definitely have a love/hate relationship.

Just know that one meal plan type does not work for everyone.

Why even meal plan

You are more likely to not go out to eat or pick up to-go food unplanned when you have a plan of what your family will eat for the week. We all know that when we do not have the time to figure out supper we can just easily go and pick something up to eat. Which adds up quickly. Depending on what we chose to quickly grab to eat can be the reason we feel sluggish the next day. Of course getting takeout food is great for some nights but not regularly.

When you plan out your meals you are able to save money instead of going to the grocery store without a plan and just buying whatever you think you may need. This is embarrassing but I use to go to the store and spend almost $300 on a bunch of groceries and extra stuff that was not needed AND I would still not have groceries for supper every night. Crazy right?? What did I even waste money on? Maybe it was just a bunch of snacks? I don’t know and I am not sure how I survived. Good times.

Life is busy. Even as stay at home moms we are very busy. Meal planning takes the guesswork out what you’re going to cook. If I don’t meal plan it can take me all day trying to figure out what I need to cook that night. Trying to figure out which groceries I already have to see what I can make instead of using that time to do something else. No thanks. My mom brain can’t handle trying to figure out supper every day.

Healthier options. Not everyone that meal plans is going to choose all healthy options but even when you are cooking at home you know what is going into your meals for your family. When I meal plan I am thinking about what I can cook for my family instead of deciding on a whim. Trying to make sure I include a good protein, a good carb, and vegetables. If I were trying to decide every single day there is no telling what we would eat…. “ugh, I don’t know maybe frozen pizza”. When you and your family are hungry there is no telling what you will choose as long as you get it quick before everyone is hangry (hungry + angry).

The MAIN reason for meal planning would definitely be that I am not trying to go to a grocery store multiple times a week with my two children that are two years old and younger. Nope. Nope. Nope. If that is your style then I seriously salute you.

Different Ways To Meal Plan

Meal plan, grocery shop and then cook all your meals the same day

This tends to work for people who don’t have a lot of extra time or don’t to cook every day but still want to eat right and at home. Especially people with fitness goals they do not want to ruin. Personally, I like to cook throughout the week. This way of meal planning is still a way that gets the job done.

Meal planning weekly

I could be wrong but I feel like this one could be most popular? Plan out your meals for the week, go grocery shopping and start all over next week. This is usually the way I meal plan.

It helps to take time to write out your meal plan and grocery list.

Making a meal plan that works for you

Monthly meal planning

Go ahead and decide on meals for the month. Possibly even write out your grocery list for each week of the month. Meal planning for the month is one I have been working on doing more. Even if I change my mind one week I still have an idea of what I plan to cook and takes the stress away of spending time every day or week on what I will cook.

Get a blank calendar and mark out the days you know you will not be home to cook, mark your busier days for easy meals and start filling out your meals.

Having a recipe book or binder to keep up with ingredients for the meals you already cook helps this process to go by faster.

Rotating meal plan

Not sure what the right name for it would be. Having a rotating meal plan is where you have six (or however many you choose to do) weeks of meals planned out without having them on certain days of the week. You will choose which meal plan you want for the week and rotate them each week however you would like by going in order or skipping around. After you have gone through all six weeks of meals you can start over with week one or choose whichever week you would like to do. This is for the people who like to have meals planned for a week without having to worry which day you will eat what until you get to that week.

Something like this

Week one:

Chicken noodle soup

Red beans and rice

Pork chops, squash, and sweet potatoes

Spaghetti and green beans


Two days of leftovers

You have different options for however many weeks you chose to meal plan so when a new week comes you just pull out whichever meal plan you want to use for the week. This works best if you have a good mix in the week like chicken, pork, soup, easy meal or Crock-pot. Not getting burned out on one type of food.

Read more about Rotating A Six-Week Meal Plan here!

Helpful Meal Planning Tips

  • Write a list of all the meals you already cook and know that your family loves. Also, start a list of new recipes you would like to try. When meal planning add the new recipes once a week or once a month or however often you would like. This way you have meals down that you know everyone loves but you are also trying new things.

  • Have a blank calendar or notebook to jot down your meal plan. Add the days you won’t be home to cook, busier days for when you need to put your easiest meal down or make it a leftovers night. Jot your meals down.

  • Have a leftover day or two days. Depending on what I am cooking I like to do leftovers every two to three days of cooking.

  • Until you get the hang of meal planning start meal planning days before you need to have it done. This way when it comes to the day you need to grocery shop you are not stressed that it isn’t done and just buy whatever.

  • Save your previous meal plans for the times you need ideas or just want to copy what you had the weeks before. You can put it in a notebook or make a special meal planning binder.

  • Make it fun. Whether you are a notebook, planner or binder kinda mom do what helps you out the most to stay organized.

  • Make it a meal plan that works best for you.

Find What Works For You

There are so many different ways to meal plan. It is about finding the one that simplifies your life.

When it comes to meal planning there is not a one size fits all. Whether it is a weekly, monthly, rotating, seasonal or a completely different kind of meal plan. Honestly, it is okay to try them all out too. I love to change things up. Especially if it is to make life simpler. 

Am I missing an extremely easy meal plan idea? Let me know how you get the job done. Simply.

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Author: Elizabeth Hill

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