10 Essential Things to Know About Meal Planning

updated May 29, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

Meal planning. It’s one of those things you know you should do, but don’t. Until you finally give up all your resistance and you do. And then you go on to quickly discover that meal planning is saving your butt, each and every week. So if you don’t meal plan, check out these tips and get on board. And if you do meal plan, check out these tips to help you do it better.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

It’s a myth: You do not have to come up with brand-new meals for every night of the week, every week of the year. In fact, most great cooks become great because they master a handful of recipes by doing them over and over and over again. So Lauren’s advice here is not only practical and wise, but it’s also aspirational. And inspiring.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Here’s a great idea for streamlining your meal planning. Assign a food theme to each night of the week for a month (pasta night, salad night, chicken night). Even though you’re eating the same types of dishes, you’ll be surprised at how varied your meals can be and how easy it is to just drop in recipes.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Even the best meal plans can get off course and leave the home cook feeling flushed and harried. The true secret to successful meal planning is understanding how to plan your work and then work your meal plan as the week unfolds.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Sometimes an outline scrawled on the back of a form letter won’t do; sometimes you need a spreadsheet. According to Christine, “To say that Google Sheets keeps our cooking and meal planning organized is an understatement. It’s a lifesaver, and I love my weird-looking document with a fierce passion.” Now that’s an endorsement!


The One Thing I Prep on Monday to Save Time All Week

I’ll spoil the surprise: it’s snacks. Meghan preps snag bags for her family on Monday and it’s a fantastic idea. It may seem inconsequential, but having prepped snacks can make a big difference when everyone is running helter-skelter in the morning.

(Image credit: Gina Eykemans)

There are dozens of hyper-organized ways to become a gold-star meal planner. Apps, spreadsheets, special notebooks, and calendars are handy tools to keep you on task, but the most important rule for meal planning is one that very few have a place for in their apps or on their printable calendars, and it is charmingly simple. Can you guess what it is?

(Image credit: @that_journal)

Ariel asked the question: Could a bullet journal make you a better meal planner, and what would that even look like in the bullet journaling universe? And then she found several examples of beautiful journals that inspire not only organization, but also creativity.

(Image credit: Danielle Walker)

Danielle Walker, the blogger behind Against All Grain, shares her strategies for making sure she’s prepped for a week’s worth of healthy food for her family. Her 10 tips are practical and universal, so even if you don’t cook like Danielle, you may want to meal plan like her!


Master Your Monday: 5 Meal Planning Lessons for a Better Week

Meghan shares with us her five essential things we can do to start the week with our meals squared and sorted. Also included are snacks and celebrations, so it’s not all spreadsheets and checked-off boxes!

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Meal planning often focuses on dinner, but busy folks know that lunches are equally important. Unless you (and maybe even your children!) can eat lunch out every day, you’re going to have to factor lunch planning in, too. Here are five excellent tips for lunch planning success.