Ten Tips for Meal Planning Success

by Laura on July 23, 2013

in Blog, Planning, Ten for Tuesday


Meal Planning template available at TheProjectGirl.com

At the heart of the Family Eats Four Pillars is Planning. It is an essential element to everything you tackle in the kitchen, from what to eat and how much you spend at the grocery, to frustration-free meal preparation and gathering together for mealtime. Without Planning, your efforts to Purchase, Prepare and Partake (the other Pillars) are left to chance.


In this week’s installment of Ten for Tuesday, we offer up 10 Tips for Meal Planning Success.

  1. Crack Open Your Cookbooks: I have a huge bookshelf filled with cookbooks, and I still find myself in a rut, preparing the same meals again and again. But, when I venture into my cookbook shelves for a bit of reading, I find lots of inspiration for new recipes that prove to be great additions to our list of favorite recipes. Take the time to revisit your cookbooks every time the season changes. Or, if you’re more adventurous, choose one new recipe to try each month.
  2. Learn How to Make Sauces and Marinades: Investing the time and energy in learning how to make sauces and marinades will help you spruce up old recipes, leftovers, and the ubiquitous chicken you seem to always be preparing. With a good knowledge of creating these recipe-changing sauces and marinades, you’ll be more confident in the kitchen, and more excited about making mealtime more delicious. Read up about sauces in marinades in your cookbooks, take a local cooking class, or watch a video or two on You Tube. Your tastebuds will be happy you did.

    Cookbook Inspiration

  3. Have the Right Tools on Hand: It may not sound like a tip for meal planning, but if you have the right tools on hand, it makes meal preparation go much more smoothly. Nothing is more frustrating than to find yourself in the middle of a recipe, and not have the proper tools handy for use. So go ahead, update your tools, and make sure they’re handy and ready for use . .  then get cooking.
  4. Consult Your Weekly Schedule: I find that it is essential to check our family schedule before planning our weekly meals. This allows me to better plan each meal according to what is happening on that specific day. For instance, we don’t return home from gymnastics on Mondays until 5:30, which is when the kids are ready for dinner. For that night, I usually plan a meal that can be prepared ahead of time, and kept warm until we arrive. Other nights, if one of us is out of town, or heading out for a business dinner, I alter the amount of food I prepare that evening (which also helps save time and money).
  5. List your Family Favorites: With a big family like ours, someone is always declaring that they don’t like what I’ve made for dinner. While I can’t accommodate every taste on each night, I do know which meals are the most liked by the most members of our family. By asking everyone what their favroite meals are, I lessen the stress of hearing the complaints, and at the same time, everyone feels as if they have a say in what is being served throughout the week.
  6. Know How Much You’ll Eat: Knowing how much meat your family will consume at dinnertime,  or how many apples you will go through in a week, will help with your planning for shopping. It will also help cut down on food waste, and be helpful in planning leftovers.
  7. Plan Your Weekly Meals: Now that you know your weekly schedule, and the favorite family recipes, it’s time to plan your weekly meals. That includes planning lunches, snacks, and leftovers. As I plan, I keep in mind how long meals will take to prepare, and match the easily prepared ones with busy evenings.
  8. Have a Stocked Pantry: A well-stocked pantry filled with rice, beans and other grains along with other essentials including pasta, dried fruits, and nuts will give you the versatility to create many meals and snacks throughout the week.
  9. Make a Shopping List: Create a shopping list according to what you will be preparing that week. Don’t forget to include any items that you may be running low on in your pantry, and also check to see if you have any leftover fruits, vegetables, or herbs in the fridge that can be used for the weekly meals. Be sure to stick to that list when you head to the store.
  10. Ease the Burden: Get everyone involved in the weekly meal planning, purchasing and preparing. If you all take part in this weekly event, you’ll be more likely to gather together to enjoy mealtime together. That’s what the Family Eats Four Pillars are all about.

You can enjoy our previous Ten for Tuesday post, Ten Summer Recipes.

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