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Meal Planning Tips and Tricks

Life · Organization · March 10, 2017

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I remember years ago not understanding why people meal planned. It seemed so silly. Who needs to think that far ahead I thought. Boy was I wrong! We started meal planning almost two years ago and it has made our lives so much easier. I wanted to share our meal planning tips and tricks because it’s really helped us cut down on waste, save money, and not be scrambling last minute!

meal planning tips and tricks

Meal Planning Tips and Tricks

Tip 1 – Make time to plan: We do our grocery shopping every Saturday and hit 3 stores. Which seems like a lot but it’s what works for us. Before that we take a few minutes to discuss the next week and plan out our meals. Usually this consists of just mainly dinners. We pretty much eat the same stuff for breakfast and lunch. Andrew almost always takes leftovers for lunch or makes himself something healthy. Once our dinners are planned out for the week we can make our grocery list.

Tip 2 – Take inventory: We do not always need everything for the meals. We tend to have about half the stuff already, so it’s time to look in our fridge, freezer, and pantry and see what we may need. This is so helpful to ensure we aren’t being wasteful with things that can go bad easily. It also helps when were shopping and wonder if we need more of something.

Tip 3 – Research: We get bored with meals sometimes, so I feel like I am always scouring Pinterest for recipes that are easy and healthy for weeknight dinners. I am a big fan of the slow cooker so major win if it’s a slow cooker meal with very few ingredients. I think my favorite part of meal planning is finding new recipes!

Tip 4 – Keeping a list: We have a grocery list on Google Keep that we share. We add things to it throughout the week as well before going to the grocery store. It’s great because Andrew and I can add things whenever we think of them, and whoever is at the store can always have a list of everything that we need.

Tip 5 – Put it all together: The key for us is planning. Once research is done, planning is done, and inventory and list making is done the week goes so smoothly. We know in our calendars what we are having every night so any prep that needs to be done the day before, anything that needs to be defrosted, or taken out ahead of time is easy to see.

Do you have any meal planning tips and tricks? I would love if you could share them below!

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  • 37 thoughts on “Meal Planning Tips and Tricks

    1. Sam

      I love this so much! It’s so simple but so important and often times a life saver during a busy week! Thanks for sharing.

    2. Laura

      Meal planning is VITAL!!!

      I definitely try to theme my week to minimize on what I need to buy. Also taking time to pre-cut-and-marinate your meats or veggies and pop them in the freezer not only saves you time, but if plans change, you can use them next week!

      Laura @

    3. Jeff & Crystal

      Some really great advice. My wife says to always “shop your cupboard”, before heading to the store. We only buy groceries every other week, and just pop in for fresh fruit and veggies on the other.

    4. Andrea Karwandy

      I use the app “Grocery King”. You can take inventory of your pantry and fridge and enter everything in, update quantities, sizes etc. I find it super handy because then i always know exactly what we have, as long as I remember to update the quantity as we use items. It’s easy to reference when meal planning, and if I suddenly think of something at the grocery store that I *might* need, I can check if I *actually* need it.

    5. Bethany Lotulelei

      I was an avid meal planner before I got pregnant, but then once I was battling nausea all meal prep went out the window! Now that I am FINALLY in the second trimester, and I can handle thinking about food again, I really need to start meal planning once more. We have spent so much more money on food since I have stopped meal planning. Sigh. It really is a necessary evil. When I try to just wing it, I always end up wasting food, time, and money.

    6. Kerry

      That sounds just like us! We shop just once a week on Friday, and sometimes we take advantage of 24 hour shopping if we’re up early. We use an app called Bring! for our shared list. It’s visual, with cute little icons. They add more all the time.

    7. Sarah Jean Althouse

      Every now and then I am great about planning my meals for the week and then fail at it the next week. This is one of my top goals this year though because I know it makes a huge difference in cutting down on stress and saving money.

    8. Meredith

      I love meal planning! It has made me feel so much more on top of things. Plus, we have a chalkboard menu so everyone can see what we’re having for dinner all week long. I plan quick cooking meals around our busier nights and it’s so stress-free!

    9. Trish

      I was so good about meal planning when I was younger, and I feel I really ate much healthier as a result. This is something I need to get in the habit of doing again. Your tips were really helpful. Thanks!

    10. lisa

      I recently started to get back into meal planning and it really does make the week go smoother. As long as I remember to sit down each Sunday night and make my menu I’m good to go!

    11. Annemarie LeBlanc

      My family and I prepare a meal plan every Saturday night. We pitch in for meal suggestions which is good because it ensures everyone likes the meal for the day. Saves us money too, because we can prepare ahead instead of going into crunch time and end up eating out or ordering for take out.

    12. Lianne

      great tips! I meal planned for a while and it meant we were so much more organised! but I haven’t been doing it lately and need to start again, I must waste half an hour a day standing in the kitchen trying to decide what to have for dinner!
      Lianne | Makes, Bakes and Decor

    13. Mistle

      Great tips girl!!! Meal planning makes the week a lot easier, so you’re not always trying to cook after work. I will be honest having to cook when I get home after a long day, is the last thing I want to do. I also believe that taking inventory is important to not waste money.

    14. Allison A

      I’ve learned (the hard way) you need to take inventory of what you already have in the house before shopping! I hate coming home with groceries and realizing I already had a lot of the stuff/ingredients!

    15. Nadine Cathleen

      I really want to plan more but these days we just buy for the night. Want to go back to ordering online for a week or two so that I know that all healthy stuff is ticked off my list 🙂


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