Everyone has their own style of meal planning. From dinners only to month-long planning, there are endless ways to create a meal plan. And there’s no right or wrong way to meal plan, there’s just the way that works for you.
Today, we’d like to highlight a style of meal planning that’s helpful if you find yourself staring at the week ahead and drawing a blank for what recipes to plan. You may have this problem every time you start a meal plan or only occasionally when motivation and inspiration are low. The thing is, you don’t always have to be inspired or motivated because there are solutions to help you get the planning done. To remove the guesswork and give your meal planning more structure, use a meal planning template to guide your planning process.
How It’s Done
One loyal Plan to Eat customer, Chelsea, uses templates to format her weekly meal planning. Here’s how she does it:
I meal plan using a mental template: I follow the same format every week using protein variety as my guide. The basic format I use is tofu, bean, fish, tempeh, legume, meat, and then a wildcard. This makes choosing recipes a lot easier, as it narrows down my choices, plus it ensures variety in nutrients and recipes.
I use the “main ingredient” filter in Plan to Eat to select one of the protein categories I listed, and then just choose one recipe from each category to get a whole week of suppers lined up.
It also makes finding new recipes easier, because some protein categories will have less options than others and therefore I’ll be inspired to seek out recipes for specific ingredients to give us more choices (as opposed to just seeking new recipes in general, which always seems overwhelming).
This simple formula has been the number one thing that keeps me meal planning year after year.
As Chelsea says, using a template for creating your meal plan narrows down your recipe choices to fit into whatever category you’ve decided for that day. You can create meal planning templates based on protein variety (like Chelsea), daily themes, members of your household, cooking method, and so much more.
If you decided to have a daily theme, that could look like, Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wildcard Wednesday, Takeout Thursday, and Fish Friday. You don’t have to use alliteration for your theme names, but it is fun that way. 😉
Or you can assign a day of the week to a member of your household and they get to pick the recipe for that night. If you want to involve your family in the kitchen and planning process more, this is a great first step!
Plan to Eat Can Help
You can use the Menus feature to create meal planning templates in Plan to Eat. Simply create a new Menu and add a note to each day of the week to remind yourself what category or idea to plan around. Give the Menu a name and add tags for customization and easy searching.
When you create your next meal plan, start by adding the template Menu to your Planner, and then the notes will be visible to remind you what recipes to plan.
As Chelsea does, you can use the search and filtering options in Plan to Eat to find recipes based on keywords, main ingredients, or specific ingredients.
Using a meal planning template will help you feel more focused when building a meal plan and help the process go faster. It only takes a few minutes to create a template Menu and that small effort will be a big favor to your future self!