To aide in planning and preparing balanced and varied meals, I started completing a weekly meal planner earlier this year. It’s Nothing complicated, I simply pick out various recipes I’d like to make over the coming week, and then take time each Sunday to shop for ingredients and do some basic meal prep. The outcomes have been positive; I’ve been enjoying a home cooked meal on most weeknights and utilize leftovers for lunch the following day. I’ve saved money by ordering take-out meals less frequently.
As my work lunches became more interesting (sorry PB&J), colleagues took note of my meal variety. They, and friends have questioned how I have time and energy to come home after a work day and cook a meal from scratch. In effort to dispel the misconception that I morph into an executive chef each evening, I’m sharing various meal planning tips including my Weekly Meal Planner tool.
Heather’s 5-Step Meal Planning Process
- Select Recipes & Meal Ideas– Each Sunday morning, I sort through cookbooks and my favorite cooking websites for meal ideas. I typically select 5-6 meal ideas.
- Meal Scheduling– From my meal ideas, I begin entering entering them into a Meal Planner Calendar. At this time I consider what I have planned for the week work- and activity-wise. If I’m anticipating a longer work day, I’ll pick something simple for that day, like a sheet pan dinner, whereas, if I have a free night, I may decide to experiment with a new recipes or ingredient.
- Grocery List– Utilizing my Meal Planner Calendar and recipes, I start a shopping list of what I’ll need to prepare everything for the week. I like to organize ingredients by food category or store section to help streamline grocery shopping.
- Shop- Shopping list in hand, I head to the grocery store and pick up what I need. I prefer and highly recommend early Sunday morning to avoid crowds!
- Prep– Once returning home with my ingredients, I take some time to prep what I can to make things easier during the week. For example, I wash all of my produce, slice veggies, and cook grains like quinoa and brown rice.
That’s it! This 5-step process (including shopping) takes me about 2-3 hours total, depending on how much prep I get done.
Do you meal prep? If so, leave a comment with your tips. I’d love to hear them!