I have so many people each week say how much they appreciate the meal plans I create and how easy they are.
AND a lot of people ask how I come up with my ideas of meals, or what inspires me.
SO, I figured I would write all about it. It’s really nothing too complicated, and all I am doing is simply picking meals. But maybe you just need some inspiration!
If so, I am here to help! I’ll give you 5 things to keep in mind when planning meals that might make your weeknight dinners easier to plan. Plus, planning out a weekly dinner menu will save money as you won’t be eating out as much!
Basically it’s a win-win situation.
Here you go! 5 tips to help plan out weekly meals!
1. Keep a log in your phone of different meal ideas.
Whenever I strike up an idea or see a meal on TV that looks amazing I write it down!
Then when the next week rolls around, I have a lot of ideas to choose from and don’t feel like I am picking the same thing each time.
2. Pick the “Type” of meal you’d like to make.
I think when people think about meal planning they are already exhausted of ideas because they have to be really specific or maybe too plain.
However, when I meal plan and am having a little trouble I start with the type of meal I’d like to make and then go from there.
So, If I am thinking about a type of curry meal I’ll look for those types of recipes. Or if I just want a simple pasta meal I’ll look for those types first and then get to the specifics.
Monday: All in one stove top meal
Tuesday: Sheet pan meal. (Throw chicken breast with some veggies and cook all on one pan!)
Wednesday: Bowl Meal. Basically where you choose a base like rice, beans, quinoa, or something else. Then add in meat, veggies, lettuce and seasonings.
Thursday: Chinese food
Get the gist of it? Once you pick the type of meal you’d like to make, then you can research and pick a recipe that is in that category!
3. Have 2-3 Cook Books and/or Food Sites you like and keep them on hand
I have two cookbooks that I refer to a LOT when I am cooking. So If I want to make a chicken meal but don’t exactly know where to start I loot at my cookbook for inspiration!
I have one chef that I follow online. Her name is Jennifer Segal and her recipes are amazing! Every single one I make I have made multiple times.
So, when the inspiration is a little low, I go to those key chefs or books and grab an idea!
4. Think about what the schedule of the week looks like and plan accordingly!
If you have a busy week coming up, think about what meals you have time for.
If you know two days during the week you will be really busy in the afternoon and get home at 6 pm, it might be a good idea to do a crockpot/slow cooker meal that day and throw it in before you leave for the day.
Or if you just have time for a quick sandwich for dinner, do just that! Maybe plan ahead and cut up veggies, cheese, and meat for sandwiches and put them in the fridge to grab later.
If you want to make it a little fancier, maybe grab a fun type of bread or go for croissants! Those are my fav.
5. Plan your grocery list ahead of time and grab everything in one swoop!
I plan for one week at a time. I feel that is the easiest thing to do.
A lot of people will try for two weeks or even a full month, but what I find with that (for myself) is I end up not liking what I planned, or am not in the mood for it, or the schedule totally changes and I have to throw something out.
When I create the grocery list I make it the day before I go shopping. I do that because there is ALWAYS something I think of the next day that I need.
Once my list is all ready to go, I get everything in one stop shop. (Okay, really I am super picky about my groceries and I will go to 3 or 4 different stores to get something, but that’s just me!) But I do shop for everything in one day that way I don’t have to worry about it later, or shop for it each day.
This makes things much easier when you go to cook. You have everything you need, don’t need to run to the store again right before dinner, and saves time when you plan ahead.
6. BONUS: Keep a log of the different weekly meal plans you created to look back on and see what you have and haven’t cooked.
I literally have almost the last year of the different meal plans I have made… it’s kinda my thing if you haven’t noticed by now.
BUT If I am really scrounging for ideas I will look back at those and see what to do. Or make the same thing and just try and switch it up!
Well guys, did that help?! I hope it did! Those are my guidelines that I stick to every week.
It’s kind of like everything else in life. Once you start doing it weekly and make a habit out of it, it will become easier over time and maybe you’ll be inspired by new food and start creating your own recipes!
Thanks for reading,
~Erin, The Short Chef