I share my weekly healthy meal plan ideas with you guys all the time, but I haven’t really shared my process for coming up with a plan for the week! I’ve been taking meal planning seriously for almost a year now and it’s been a huge time and sanity saver for me as a busy mom of two girls.
Why I Chose to Meal Plan
Before meal planning, we would just buy things we thought we needed and inevitably would be missing an ingredient we needed for a recipe, which meant an unplanned grocery trip. These little trips happened frequently, wasting time and racking up our grocery bill. I set out to simplify our weekly grocery trip and dinner routine, which led to spending less, eating healthier and having more time in the evening – all thanks to creating a healthy meal plan.
Healthy Meal Plan Process
I actually start my meal planning for the week about halfway into the week…crazy, right? But as I’ve learned from mom life, getting a jumpstart on things means there’s a chance you can actually get it done on time! On Wednesdays, I start thinking about dinner ideas for the week, almost always using my Pinterest boards for inspiration. I try to vary the types of protein we have in a week, but there are times where we might have chicken several times, for example. I recently went through and categorized my boards by type of dish, which makes it simple to find a seafood recipe or a side dish, for example.
I make a list of 5-7 ideas in my Notes app, pull up the recipe links and then I use the Out of Milk app (love this for grocery lists – and it’s shareable, so my husband can add things directly to the list!) to add the ingredients that I know we’ll need for the recipes.
Once I’ve done that, I like to peek in the refrigerator and pantry to see what we’re out of or need more of. Because I’ve been doing this for a year and we’re creatures of habit when it comes to most things we buy, it’s easy for me to glance at everything and know what I need to add to the list.
After I’ve added everything to the grocery list, I will peek at our local Sprouts and Kroger weekly sales to check prices, then pull up Walmart Online Grocery and add things to the cart. If there happens to be a lot of produce or meat on sale at Sprouts or Kroger, it usually justifies a trip and I’ll simply remove that item from my Walmart grocery cart. I love Walmart Grocery and it’s a huge timesaver, but if you’re into saving money, it’s a good idea to check prices to ensure things are cheaper. I’ve found when our regular grocery stores are running good sales (especially on meats and produce), you can get better deals there than you can at Walmart!
I don’t really meal plan when it comes to breakfasts or lunches. My husband usually takes leftovers from dinner for his lunches and there’s usually enough for me too. If not, I prep some chicken salad and eat it on top of a salad for lunch. I do prep my husband’s breakfasts – sweet potatoes, turkey sausage and scrambled egg bowls (a Whole30 recipe) and I usually just have a protein pancake or a protein smoothie for breakfast. As I’m in the middle of 80 Day Obsession, I’m supposed to snack throughout the day, so I will prep hardboiled eggs and roasted sweet potatoes for myself before the week begins.
On Sundays, I usually fill out my planner for the week ahead (love the Simplified Planner!) and this is when I’ll assign a dinner idea to each night. I like to fill out my schedule first to see what my days look like and if we have a busy day or evening, I’ll choose a more simple recipe for that day (or a slow cooker recipe). From time to time, we’ll still shift dinner ideas around if our plans change or we don’t get an early enough start on dinner and need something quick – but for the most part, having these ideas planned out in advance and knowing we have the ingredients makes our week run so smoothly.
Be sure to follow me on Pinterest for a new healthy meal plan every week + lots of recipe ideas!