Kate's Plate

My Step-By-Step Meal Planning Method

Here’s my take on meal planning: You have to use your own brain.

 

Pre-made meal plans aren’t very effective because it doesn’t take you into consideration.

Have you tried one before? I sure have. I’ve tried countless meal plans put together from home organization gurus, nutrition sites, mom influencers, and fitness experts. I have yet to succeed in following one of them. And I love to cook and love to eat healthy!

Why?

They fail to consider:

  • Your schedule
  • Your family’s schedule
  • Your family’s food preferences
  • Your cooking ability
  • Your organization ability
  • The ingredients you already have
  • Your goals (health, fitness, financial, etc)
  • Your capacity

You just can’t outsource this one. I’ll show you where you can outsource, but the plan itself needs to come from you.

 

Here is my meal planning method, step-by-step. Let’s go!

 

  1. Use your calendar.

    • Pull out a sheet of paper, or my favorite:  A legal pad.
    • Write “Breakfast” – “Lunch” – “Dinner” across the top.
    • Write the days of the week down the left side.
    • Note any major evening events, such as sport practices and include what time they occur. You can also do this for the morning if yours change and it would be helpful.
    • Consult with your spouse about the week, making sure they don’t have anything else that may influence the week that you aren’t aware of yet. Better yet, make this plan together. 🙂
    • If you’re going out, write that in the plan. Boom, that one is done.meal planning
  2. Use what you have.

    • Ideally, do the meal planning in your kitchen. You can quickly see what you have and don’t have.
    • Start by filling in meals with items you know you need to use. Think fresh produce, grains in the pantry, or freezer items. This step really can save you money if you flex it well.
    • When you put a meal on your plan, if you generally know what goes into it, make sure you have what is needed. If you are using a recipe, gather it now with your plan. Items you still need to get, write them at the bottom on the page (or a separate grocery list).
  3. Be realistic and fill it in.

    • Fill in your meal plan, thinking through each day asking:
      • “What do we want to do for breakfasts?” and write it out.
      • “What days are the kids going to pack or buy their lunches?” and write it out.
      • “What days do I need a quick and no-cook dinner vs days I want to make dinner?” and figure the meals out. Kate’s Plate meals are fabulous here and I plan for several per week, but place them depending on how much time I have. 
      • “What do I need to have on hand to make this happen?” and write it out.
      • Bonus question after you’ve made a basic plan, “Do I have enough green things in this week?” (Replace green with whatever aligns with your goals. Fiber, protein are examples of things I think about.)
  4. Order and execute.

    • Ordering groceries is just what we do now. It’s 2024. If you haven’t tried this, now’s the time. There are so many options our there from Kroger Clicklist or Delivery, Instacart or store-pickups for Aldi, Sam’s, Walmart, WholeFoods, Dorothy Lane Market, and the list goes on.
    • If you are still a grocery-go-er, that’s lovely! Take your list and get to it.
    • *Expert tip: Note on your plan or calendar if you need thaw items ahead of time.
    • Now, if you are wanting to do a little pre-prep, meaning chop some items, cook some proteins, grains, etc. ahead of time..You do you. But the main goal of my meal planning method is to 1. figure it out and 2. know I have it all in my house.  The prep during the week will vary depending on my schedule and how on top of it I feel. 🙂 
  5. Share your plan.

    • Write your meal plan, at least the dinners, on your calendar. Whether it’s a family calendar on your wall (highly recommend), a digital calendar you share with your group, or just leaving the paper plan on the counter, letting others know the plan is very effective. Here’s why:
      • Others can support you by making the meals.
      • You all know what’s going on and there are less decisions to make.
      • The kids don’t ask 100 times ‘what is for dinner.’ Ahhhh.
    • This step is often overlooked, but it’s so helpful.

 

This will take you as long as you allow. Aim for an hour or less, including ordering. Knock it out, imperfectly. A draft with 50% of the things planned is so much better than no plan at all.

 

Happy planning! Please let me know if I can help walk you through this.

 

 

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