Mar 132017

There is more to meal planning than cooking and freezing. There are certain things you can do before you start meal planning that will help you become more efficient in the kitchen. This guide is going to take you from overwhelmed at the grocery store to organized with a plan. The goal is to save money when you shop while enjoying healthier and more delicious food.

Pick a day. Before you start with your grand plan, pick a day that works for your family for meal prep. This would require clipping coupons if you do so, reading the sale circulars, making a list, and shopping. When you return home, instead of quickly putting groceries away, you can start formulating your meals into freezer bags and containers.

The truth is that meal prep can become over stressful over time, and you may just give up. Don’t let a setback make you quit. Write it down, shop in the early or late hours of the day to avoid crowds, and use the internet to help you track lists and recipes.

Cook similar temperatures together. If you are baking chicken in the oven at 375 degrees, add an oven tray of chopped potatoes as well. You don’t need two ovens to create more than one dish at one time. Use what you’ve got! Just setup a timer to make sure you are cooking each dish correctly. You will save on energy costs too since you’re cooking multiple meals at once.

Don’t forget containers. Make sure all of your containers are cleaned and ready to go. You will want to dish out all of your food at once and have everything ready for the fridge. Set up a “buffet style” display so you can easily fill, close, and store your meals.

Purchase additional containers if necessary so you have a variety of sizes for soups, salads, lunches, dinners, and breakfasts. Have a permanent marker to identify cook times on the container and write an expiration date.

Use apps for additional savings. Once you get into the rhythm of prepping meals, you can start using apps to save even more money. Ibotta is an easy way to create a shopping list with redeemable offers to earn cash back on your grocery purchases. While they have branded items like pasta and snacks, they often have generic items for redemption like any loaf of bread or fresh fruit.

Gather recipe inspiration. If you find yourself feeling stuck, you can always sign up for a recipe services from a tool like Emeals. It provides you with a weekly shopping list along with recipe inspiration. You can make these meals ahead of time to freeze or enjoy later in the week so that you won’t have to cook every day!

By keeping these how to tips and methods in mind, you can make the entire meal planning and prepping process easier. You can also ensure you have everything you need, beyond the food, to get you on the right meal prep and planning track.

  98 Responses to “How to Begin Meal Planning”

  1. Meal prep is key to saving a ton of time throughout the week. Otherwise you’re in the kitchen ALL the time.

  2. When I visit my middle daughter, we do several all day cooking sessions and fill her freezer to the brim. It’s so nice to be able to have delicious and nutritious meals ready to go. It’s also great when we are asked to bring a meal to a sick friend of household with a new baby. We will take a hot meal along with a frozen meal, so they can enjoy another easy meal later in the week.

  3. I find my week goes much smoother when I have my meals all planned out and I actually get to the grocery store to get what I need.

  4. I really want to start designating one day a week to prepping my meals. It is such a great help to being organized and eating healthy all week long!

  5. I love the way you wrote this! I am one that likes to prep meals ahead of time but usually the one that never does. This makes it sound a lot easier than what I make it.

  6. These are great tips! I love using apps as well to help gather all my planned meals and get everything scheduled on my day off!

  7. Meal prepping is seriously a life savor. I love using different colored containers so I know what is for what day of the week.

  8. I have been doing this for a few weeks now and I love it. It saves me so much time and I find I am eating a lot less takeout.

  9. Back in my younger days when I was still working I’d spend Sundays cooking up a storm and then packing up meals for the rest of the week. My hubby worked between 60 and 80 hours a week and I was working between 60 and 70 so having those meals ready to go made life a lot easier.

  10. I really want to start finding one day a week to prepping my meals. At least separate some items to place them in containers.

  11. These are great tips! I always plan on the same day and I also pick one day a month to find lots of new recipes to try, and save them all to a private pinterest board for myself.

  12. I am obsessed with meal prep! It’s all about having the best foods ready for yourself to stay on track with your health!

  13. I have always wanted to cook ahead. My husband, who does the majority of the cooking at our house, seems to be dead set against it. If I show him how much time we would save, maybe he will get on board.

  14. I don’t always practice meal prep, but when I do I go all out. I usually prepare and freeze food in bulk and plan an entire menu around a few key ingredients.

  15. These are great tips! I would love to do this more often! I don’t usually prepare meals ahead but I love the idea of it. 😀

  16. These are great tips! I would love to do this more often! I don’t usually prepare meals ahead but I love the idea of it. 😀

  17. Great advice! There is never enough time in the day and anything that saves time is a good idea.

  18. I actually am not a fan of meal prep because I like fresh foods… Piping hot. And if I make a lot of meals ahead of time, I always think about how “they’re going bad” in the fridge, haha! Weird mindset, but true. It also doesn’t help that my husband and I eat out a lot so I never know when or if we are going to do that!

  19. Meal planning and prepping ahead of time are great ideas. I plan my meals before I even head to the grocery store.

  20. I do a lot of meal prep around the holidays and for parties. I’ll have to see about incorporating this into everyday life.

  21. I love prepping food in advance. This makes the rest of the week go so much easier. I find it also helps me to ave money,

  22. These are great tips! I have been wanting to begin meal prepping, but got too overwhelmed to start! I will definitely dedicate one day to meal prep so that I don’t stress!

  23. You make it seem so easy to be organized and get all your meal prepping done in one day. I love the idea of cooking more than one thing in the oven at once, great economics.

  24. This is such a great money and time saving idea. I do not meal prep nearly enough which results in a dinner or cereal or take out. Great tips.

  25. I like to prep meals and cook once and eat several times. Sometimes they are whole meals I freeze and sometimes it just might be the meat I freeze. Using the correct containers is always important.

  26. Planning meals can really save you a lot. You just have to plan it well, get ingredients and have the proper timing when cooking.

  27. These are really great tips and I can’t wait to start using them. I’d love to prep meals ahead of time, it would save time and money.

  28. I need to start prepping meals ahead of time. These are some really good tips to follow.

  29. I know that I really need to take time to do this. It is such a timesaver if you just prepare and plab. I can always use some more containers with lids – because my lids always go missing. LOL. Also I never knew Ibotta was good for this. Maybe it’s time for me to download that.

  30. These are such great tips, I started meal planning this year and it has saved me so much time and stress!

  31. I like prepping my veggies when I buy them, Then I will eat more veggies.

  32. Meal prep can definitely get overwhelming if you don’t approach it in a very organized manner. I find that it is so helpful and makes my everyday life less stressed, so it’s really worth it though.

  33. I need to work on this more! This would make life a lot easier! I also am in need of new storage containers and your post reminded me of this! Thank you!

  34. These are great tips – I love the idea of dividing things up into containers for easier prep! I also like the reminder to double up on oven use. Sometimes people forget they can do that.

  35. I have started posting “Big Batch Recipes” to my blog. I think, like me, that others are desperate to save some time in the kitchen.

  36. Meal planning can be such a life saver. I used to be so good at it and loved having freezer meals. I need to start again!

  37. Preparing meals in the evening in each separate containers and a weekly shopping list was a very good idea. Less stress and more time for important things.

  38. Meal prep is a great way to save both time and money. Having the right containers is really important.

  39. Meal prep is such an important idea. I certainly feel lost in the grocery store without it. I end up roaming the different aisles not knowing what to pick up and put my cart. It is much simpler to spend some time planning out what to make for the week. Usually I will come up with my meal prep ideas based on ingredients we already own, and go from there.

  40. These are some great tips! I love meal prepping but I never thought about cooking similar temperatures together. I’ll have to keep that one in mind!

  41. This was some excellent & thought out advice that we all can use. I love meal prep it helps me so much with my busy schedule.

  42. Great ideas. I love that you suggested to cook different dishes with similar temperature at the same time. That will definitely save a lot of time!

  43. I love to prep meals ahead of time. I used to cook every Sunday and freeze meals for during the week. Not sure how I got our of that habit.

  44. Pick a day is key!!!! So many people try to do it through out the week and some get even more stressed. If you already have a tight schedule then picking a day is very helpful. I meal plan too and it has made cooking and healthy eating very doable.

  45. Meal prepping is soooo important… especially for busy weeks!

  46. Meal prepping is very important to save the time and helps to reduce the stress, also we get time to do other important things.

  47. I used to do meal prep all the time. It was such a time saver. Unfortunately, I fell a little busy between work and long distance driving for work I just don’t have the motivation to get it done anymore. I do need to get back into it!

  48. These are great ideas! I am so bad at prepping and then I end up spending money on eating out all the time! Great ideas to get on plan!

  49. I really need to start doing this. There are many recipes that I do over and over. To have some of the stuff already cooked and ready to throw in a recipe would be great. Cooked and shredded chicken is the only thing I’ve done so far.

  50. When asked I offer some of those same tips. I also like to precook certain things, like ground beef, and store them in the freezer for use during the week.

  51. I wish that I had another oven sometimes when I am meal planning because I am terrible at cooking things at the same temperature! But now that you’ve reminded me of this, I should give it another go.

  52. This was really helpful. My idea of meal planning looks nothing like this. I’ve got it all wrong.

  53. We do a lot of meal prep at our house. Mostly vegetable prep because we don’t do gluten at our house.

  54. I honestly have never thought to pop in two trays of food in the oven! That would be so much handier! I am so not a meal planner and it’s bitten me in the butt these last few weeks!

  55. When I am looking forward to a busy week,I spend a whole day in the kitchen cooking meals that would last for 5 days. It is labor intensive, but having dinner stashed in the freezer ready takes away a lot of the stress of meal preparation during weekdays.

  56. Containers is so important! I always seem to forget them haha

  57. Preparing my meal in a day is saving a lot of time. I’m in diet and I really need to prepare everyday meal for the next day.

  58. Meal planning is great especially if you have a busy week ahead. These are helpful tips! We don’t often know where to start when it comes to planning meals.

  59. These are such great tips! I really want to get into meal planning as I think it would take some stress off of my daily schedule!

  60. Thank you for this – if you knew me you would know that preparing meal isn’t my strong point. haha These are great tips and one I should put into action. x

  61. Hubby and I write a menu every week and then shop for the ingredients – helps with cost and also makes sure we never go shopping hungry and buy super unhealthy stuff.

  62. What a smart tips and idea. I love the idea of containers.

  63. Meal planning is great. These are great tips to make it a lot easier.

  64. I’m not great at meal planning. I should do some meal planning Thank you for sharing these tips. xx

  65. I admit that I don’t do nearly enough meal planning and that it would make things so much easier eating healthier. Thank you for the great tips.

  66. My husband and I use Ibotta all the time! I also like to purchase my groceries online and then pick them up at the store. It helps me to meal plan seeing everything in front of me at once. Best invention ever!

  67. I always make more than enough so that we can freeze portions for future meals. It really helps on busy days when there’s no time to cook.

  68. Great post Robin! I seriously need to stop procrastinating and start meal prepping! I feel it would be so helpful

  69. I would be SOOO lost if I didn’t prep meals ahead of time! We get up at 3:30am in this house and I can barely – just BARELY – operate the Kuerig, much less try to make and pack lunches!

  70. I need to get better with this. We tend to eat the same meals over and over because I do not plan ahead and go back to the staples.

  71. These are such good tips -I’m all for meal prep and when I used to work in the city we would meal prep with my boyfriend for the whole week. It works out so incredibly cheap that way! x

  72. Thank you for this article. I always want to plan ahead with meals just never get there. You gave great tips and I can do it !!

  73. Meal planning can be time consuming at first, until you get a rhythm going. However, in the long run, it saves time and money. I am all about meal planning.

  74. i been cooking a lot more lately since I have been working to become healthier.i need to do meal prep

  75. Am very bad at planning my food and these are some really helpful tips for me . Thanx for sharing

  76. I love buying containers so I can meal prep. Also I love the colored containers its giving me an idea to buy some in various colors!

  77. Meal planning and freezer meals have been so helpful to me! It just makes sense to cook extra chicken all at once and have multiple meals, or to chop all of the onions and only cry once instead of every day!

  78. I’m learning to do this as otherwise I eat garbage on the run. My issue is making myself take TIME FOR ME… lol but it’s worth it, I can see this now.

  79. I should probably jump on this band wagon since we have a baby coming, but I cannot plan this far in advance, lol. There is no way my kids would allow me time to make meals all day long.

  80. Meal prepping makes the work wee so much easier! I usually meal prep for my breakfst and lunch during the week.

  81. Meal planning is such a great idea. I always mean to do it but the next thing I know it’s Monday and the crazy week has begun!

  82. This is great tips especially since I have started nursing school. Anything to help during the week without making everything else so crazy! All in all, meal planning is just a smart way to do things.

  83. I’m not good with meal prepping. This sounds like a great way to plan. I need to start doing this.

  84. These are great tips for meal prepping! I pick Sundays but I should do it on a diff day cuz I always get busy

  85. I need to be better at this. I’m so bad at it it’s ridiculous. I love the idea of picking a day.

  86. I need to get back into meal planning. These are some great tips to make it asier.

  87. I’ve been trying to food prep for such a long time! I don’t know how to make my food stay but this post just gave me all the inspiration I needed to start!

  88. These are some awesome tips. I have been looking into meal planning but it seems to be overwhelming. After reading this I may go ahead and try this next week

  89. I’ve never done meal prep but think it could be such a time saver, and wouldn’t leave us with so much waste! Great tips, thanks.

  90. These are great tips! I haven’t tried meal prepping ahead of time, only meal planning. I should give it a try, maybe I’ll save time too.

  91. I am so horrible about this. I am a horrible planner with anything, actually. So, this helps me!

  92. I am so horrible about this. I am a horrible planner with anything, actually. So, this helps me!

  93. Prepping meals ahead of time is a life and time saver. Especially if you are trying to control your weight, this is a great way to do it.

  94. I just got some new Rubbermaid containers that are perfect for meal planning. I will try out some of your tips.

  95. I’m not a hardcore meal prepper, and I have no rhyme or reason to it, but I do spurts of cooking and measuring out some meals. It really helps me stay on track with my diet.

  96. When I was making lunch for both my son and hubby I would always prep their meals ahead of time. HUGE time saver!

  97. For me, Meal Planning is really important to minimize preparation time and also help you out on the budget side too. Not only a time saver but also a moneysaver.

  98. If only I could be this organized. It makes so much sense but simply don’t like cooking much. We’re having a good week when my husband & I each cook one favorite dish, that allows leftovers for 1 or 2 extra meals.