At Plan to Eat, we not only want to provide the most reliable and efficient meal planning software, but we also want to simplify your meal planning process. We love hearing helpful tips from our customers on how they meal plan because being “in the trenches” can lead to great advice.
We asked our Facebook Group for tips on how to simplify meal planning and we received two great responses that we’d like to share!
For me, the three big anchors of planning meals for the week are the “3 P’s”: Planning, Purchasing, and Preparing. I like to break up those three steps into different days, if possible.
For example, I’ve been trying to do my planning on Friday, purchasing on Saturday, and some prep on Sunday. This has reduced the feeling of overwhelm for me. It has definitely minimized the barriers for me, making it easier for me to just jump in and get it done when I don’t feel like I have to do all three steps in one day.
As for the planning itself, I usually approach it like this:
- Check my calendar/schedule to be strategic about meal choices (i.e. busy nights, etc.).
- What do I already have on hand? I check my fridge, freezer, and pantry for inspiration. (And then I search my Plan to Eat recipes by those ingredients!)
- Aim to include food that’s in season, if possible. I find that many of the weekly produce sale items at the supermarket often align with what’s in season. (I use the tag feature in Plan to Eat, and tag recipes by season sometimes. This helps me find seasonal inspiration more easily when I’m planning.)
- I keep my meal plan as simple as possible, and save the fussier recipes (or new ones we want to try) for a night when we aren’t so crunched for time.
I create a two-week menu and then copy it to the next two weeks. This saves me time trying to figure out 28 days worth of meals. It helps when I’m buying as well because it allows for bulk purchasing even if I’m feeding just 2-4 people.
When I’m prepping, it doesn’t feel like I’m prepping for 28 meals. I can prep for 28 meals in about the same time I would prep for 14.
Some meals are made super easy this way. For instance, when I have soup on the menu. I usually just prep my veggies and chop meat (if necessary) and on cook day I throw it all together.
With the 2 week/4 week planning, I separate half the soup when it is done into a freezer container. For the second time we have that meal in the month, it’s literally just reheating.
I spend about 10 hours a month in meal planning/prep and we have 90% homemade meals that take me 15-20 minutes to throw together each night.
If you’d like to share any meal planning tips you have, please reply to this email and let us know! Your tips could also be featured in a future blog post or email.