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I’m not a foodie, or a fancy cook, or a wonderful baker. I’m just a person who likes to eat good meals and wishes they would make themselves. Since they don’t, and since I’m really busy, I started planning my meals years ago, as soon as I had my first baby.

For those who haven’t meal planned before, it can seem intimidating. But trust me, once you get in the habit of planning meals it’s hard to imagine winging it ever again.

produce at the grocery store

Meal Planning Saves Time + Money

It might seem illogical, but planning my meals out saves me a ton of time. It’s so much simpler when I know what I need to get at the store, as well as the meal options I have for each day. I mastered the art of running in and out of the store quickly once I had Sylvie. There’s nothing like nursing a baby to keep you running back to your little one any time you leave the house!

I also know that being more intentional with getting the groceries that I know I’ll need for meals saves a lot of money in the long run. Meal planning eliminates guesswork, impulse-buying, and over-buying as well. I’ve had plenty of times when I came home with random frozen shrimp that ended up staying in the freezer too long, for example. It’s just too easy to grab unnecessary things when there’s no plan to work with.

I’d feel lost without planning my meals. I just know that I’d be pretty stressed trying to come up with a dinner on the fly. Doing this saves me stress, so I’m a big fan! Here’s how I do it.

 

My Meal Planning Basics

First, I think about the types of meals I’d like to fill our week. Coming up with meals becomes SO much easier when I know Taco Tuesday is already a solid option.

Here are the types of meals I plan for on a weekly basis in the fall and winter.

  • Meat & Potatoes
  • Soup, Stew, or Chili & Sandwich/Bread
  • Pasta/Italian
  • Mexican
  • International
  • Casseroles/Pot Pie/Skillet Meals/Faux Quiche
  • Eating out/Leftovers/Frozen

 

How I Plan Meals

First, I sit down with my favorite cookbooks. Hopefully, I also grab my coupons. Then I simply write down the ideas I have for meals that week in my fabulous planner, and a page number if it came from a cookbook. I write down 5-7 meals (main and side dishes), plus a dessert to have for the week. I don’t assign most of those meals to a specific night, because I’m at the mercy of when my avocados will ripen for guacamole. Seriously, our entire week depends on avocados.

I add the ingredients for all of those meals to my shopping list. I think about what we need for breakfasts and lunch, and add anything we need to stock up on. Hopefully I’ve already added anything that we ran out of that week to the shopping list.

I plan several easy, familiar recipes each week, plus one or two new ones. I make sure I have options for days when there’s a bit of an obstacle to cooking a more involved meal. Sick kids, missing ingredients (oops), lack of sleep, and other issues have been known to happen quite often around here.

I stock my pantry with things like canned soup and and my freezer with some frozen lasagna. I freeze leftovers for easy meals as well. Also, I’d love to take a day to make some freezer meals for baking during these colder months…I just haven’t done that yet!

Finally, of course, I grab my groceries and see what meal makes sense for each night. I love that all I have to do is check my list and make the dinner I want to make for that night.

Problem. Solved.


For something so simple, meal planning has made a surprisingly huge impact on how I balance everything around here. If I can do it, I promise you, YOU can do it! You’ll get into a rhythm and planning your meals will become easier and quicker with time.

 

Linked up with:
Mommy MomentsModest Mondays,
Talk Tuesday, Encouraging Hearts & Home, Grace at Home

8 comments on “Meal Planning Basics for Fall + Winter”

  1. Okay, I have never meal planned but your inspiring me to do so. I forget what I know how to cook and then stress most evenings over what to feed my family. I can totally do this! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love everything about this post! We started meal planning a year ago and have found that it is a definite game changer. Our weeks go as follows: Meatless/Meatlovers Monday, Taco Tuesdays, Pasta Worthy Wednesdays, Anything Thursdays and Friday Night Pizza Night 🙂

  3. I like these simple tips! I tend to over-complicate things, so I need simplification like this. And I really need to get on the meal-planning wagon; thank you for the inspiration!

    Thanks for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

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