Meal Planning 101

June 27, 2011

If we’re being totally honest, the phrase “I’m Hungry!” can be cause for anxiety several times per day. Food is pretty much always in the forefront of our minds. But it really doesn’t have to be.

I can’t tell you how many thoughts fill my head OTHER than food. It’s wonderful. Just getting it down on paper makes the food monster “step off” a bit.

The following are meal planning tips I live by…

1. Planning

Plan your food out at least a week in advance. Here’s how I get started. First, choose a dinner meal that you’ve been wanting to make or based around a food item that you currently have that needs to be used. The rest of the week will stem from that one meal’s ingredients. Hold the phone. Whaaat? Why do I do this? Simple. No food goes to waste before we can eat it. We save bumloads of dollars & it keeps my meals fairly simple.

Here’s one example… On Wednesday we’re scheduled to have hamburgers. I’ll end up having leftover ground beef. So instead of making hamburgers that we won’t be able to finish (or day I say freeze… gasp! burgers should always be fresh, friendlies) I’ll turn it into another meal! The next night is a pasta dish that involves ground beef. See? I’m using up my ingredients! Let’s even take it a step further… The burgers also have bacon on them. What’s a simple meal that’s delish & easy? Turkey avocado BLT sandwiches. Yep! The bacon is now officially almost gonzo! And just to make sure, we’ll be having pancakes over the weekend with… you guessed it! ba.con. Are you getting the drift?

2. Buying

When you go to the store and/or market, have your list written according to category & order in which you walk around the store. Yes, I know. It’s slightly riduculously OCD… but still. You’ll love me for this later. It makes your shopping experience a lot more efficient & enjoyable. Jeepers! I almost forgot. When you load your goods on the checkout belt, put all like items by each other on the belt (hang with me here, guys). When the bagger packs your goods, all like items will be in the same bag. That means, when you go home and unpack your groceries you’re not running around your kitchen!

3. Health

When do most unhealthy food choices happen? When we’re unprepared & starvin! Yep… the guilty “I just didn’t have time, so that’s why I’m eating my 2nd drive-thru meal of the day” happens when we’re unprepared.  Who is depending on us to prepare? Not only ourselves but our families. If we don’t prepare we’re not only affecting our own health but also those who aren’t old enough to make healthy food choices, our lil’ kidlets. And that’s kind of a big deal.

4. Budgeting

When we’re not planning, we’re either eating out or binge buying at the grocery store. You know what I mean… walking up and down the aisles, “Hmmm…that kinda looks good. We could have that sometime this week.” (or maybe sometime never!) That sometime rarely happens because we didn’t plan for it. That means the food will more than likely go to waste which is also wasted money.

5. Saving

By planning our meals this way we’re really getting the best of everything. We’re saving money, time, the daunting constant “what are we eating” thoughts, and ultimately our health.

It gets kinda fun playing house chef once you’re organized & prepared. I’m super excited for you!!

Want a cute little meal plan chart? You know I like to share…

Blank Weekly Meal Planner Printable


  • Reply Michelle June 27, 2011 at 11:53 am

    This post was perfect timing! Was just having this discussion with my fiancé about being wasteful. So helpful you are. Thanks so much!

    P.s. you even look adorable grocery shopping and your son is too cute for words 🙂

    • Reply missy June 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      You’re so sweet. Yes, it takes the guilt out of wasting food bc you waste very little. I love having a bare fridge by the end of the week. It means we planned well. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you! xo

  • Reply C June 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Can i just say THANK-YOU! This is exactly what we need for my house. I’m excited to start planning my meals 🙂

    • Reply missy June 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      Aww, shoot. You’re so sweet. Can i just say YOU’RE WELCOME? I’m so happy that you found it helpful. 🙂

  • Reply Alisa June 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Great tips Melissa! And the first picture of Bubba is too cute!!! Love it! Thanks for the printable!!

    • Reply missy June 27, 2011 at 5:51 pm

      You’re so welcome! He kinda has an obsession for food. Our grocery runs are happy days for him! He points to everything, grunts, and belly laughs. I’m in for it when he can actually talk! haha!

  • Reply Katie June 27, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Um… when did you learn to read minds??? I came home from the grocery store JUST yesterday almost in tears and told my hubs how frustrated I was that I didn’t have a plan and felt so disorganized about meal planning and grocery shopping! I love the idea of planning all three meals… and planning easy and HEALTHY meals for the fam! Thank you for coming to my rescue! I am excited to get started!!

    • Reply missy June 27, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      You know what’s kinda special? I actually put a lot of time into thinking about what would benefit my readers. I never know because you all aren’t sitting in my living room when I’m planning. But for whatever reason I kept coming back to this. It even goes a step further… I plan out 3 months at a time, stock the pantry & freezer so that I only have to buy fresh ingredients weekly. But to start out basic I thought I’d show everyone the “weekly” version that I resort to when I’m not fully organized. It warms my heart to know if benefited you so much! Thanks KT.

  • Reply Shannon June 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Ummm, THANK YOU! I am with the first commenter-perfect timing! Thank you for sharing the printable…I am not good with stuff like that (aka anything dealing with computer “creations”). You’re adorable-as is your sweet little family- and I love all the things you share on your blog! Thanks again!

    • Reply missy June 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      Shannon, thank YOU! Its the best payback knowing I’m touching my readers. It’s why I started blogging in the first place – to share with people what makes me happy. Thank you for sending happiness back my way! xo

  • Reply Jenedy June 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I’ll add my thanks as well… seriously grocery shopping can be so frustrating, especially with two little boys! Sometimes I get so anxious just trying to keep the boys entertained, I just end up throwing stuff in the basket and meal planning just goes out the window! This would be a great Sunday evening activity! Thanks so much!

    • Reply missy June 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      Food, horrendous & glorious, food. It’s a blessing & a curse. Unfortunately we have to have it to survive. Getting the family involved is even better. Husby sits down with me to plan & then looks forward to dinners all week. I’ve found it’s one of the best ways to make him happy & show him I love him! xo

  • Reply Katie June 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    P.S. Where did you get your stinkin’ cute menu board? 🙂

    • Reply missy June 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      A dear friend of mine made it for me. I’ve contacted her to see if she’d be willing to sell them! Cross your fingers…

  • Reply Ari June 27, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Great Tips!! I am definitely struggling when it comes to planning out grocery shopping trips and budgeting 🙂

    • Reply missy June 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      Budgeting will be a whole other post. It’s kind of complicated so maybe it’d be better in a series. Glad you enjoyed it, friend! xo

  • Reply Teresa Johnson June 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    What a great post! I try to plan meals, but often times forget or don’t do it before grocery shopping, etc. It’s always encouraging to see how other wives/moms do it!

    • Reply missy June 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      So happy to hear you enjoyed it, Teresa! Isn’t it fun to learn from each other? Love that! 🙂

  • Reply Karin June 27, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I try to plan most of the time, the printable will definitely help!

    • Reply missy June 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      Yay to happy meal planning!

  • Reply elizabeth June 27, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    i just stumbled across your blog, and i love it. how do you decide what you are going to have for dinner? is there a certain website or cookbook that you get your ideas from? it’d be nice if you just posted your menu….it’d all save us a bunch of time.

    • Reply elizabeth June 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm

      i meant to say it’d be nice if you posted your menu every week for us…..then we could just have what you have 🙂

      • Reply missy June 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm

        That’s a great idea… I could post one recipe per week from that week’s menu. Most of my recipes are original so it might be kind of tricky for everyone to make it without all of the recipes on hand. Hmm… definitely something to chew on! Thanks for your input, Elizabeth! xo 🙂

  • Reply Arden June 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    FINALLY! We once discussed “meal planning” during our *Juicy Couture* days–but never got to officially finish the convo! So excited to intergrade this system into my new life in LA <3 PS; you forgot to mention where you got your fah-bu-lous hat you're toting around on your pretty head–I must have one! X's & O's

  • Reply Janean Baxter June 29, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Love your blog as well! Great ideas & you and your family are darling! I need to know where you got your cut orange & white top! 🙂

  • Reply Jessica C. June 30, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I LOVE THIS! I love to plan, though haven’t quite mastered the art of it yet. Would be very interested to see the 3 month planning/shopping process and how to make that all work 🙂

  • Reply elizabeth July 2, 2011 at 2:55 am

    Non-food related question…..where did you get your tank?

  • Reply Morphing | Pink Pistachio August 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    […] when I posted about MEAL PLANNING? Yeah, how the whole point is to reuse, reuse, reuse & morph meals into something completely […]

  • Reply Shalane September 23, 2011 at 12:20 am

    I printed out the lovely lil chart, put it inside a sheet protector, stuck it on the fridge and added an overhead marker. Now it is reusable so I don’t have to print one each week…I took a picture but don’t know the best way to share! Oh and btw, I used a sheet protector because I have one and I’m not taking the 2 kiddos into Kinkos for one laminated page!
    Thank you!

  • Reply Emma September 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you so much for the printable. I am stuggling with meal planning right now.

  • Reply Jennifer G January 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I group my items on the conveyer belt…and it never fails, the cashier will reach over items to grab something else and completely mess up my sorting or even crazier, I once had a bagger who bagged all my canned goods in my cold bags and then bag my frozens in regular plastic…um, HELLO!!! I had to have him unpack everything and repack it correctly (I did ask him nicely, though 🙂 We live a LONG way from the store)

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