Simplify your life with meal planning tips and tricks

Changing schedules and routines can make mealtime a nightmare. But you want to sit down and have a nice meal with your family. With a little planning and organization, you can take the stress out of meal planning.

  1. Figure out what meals you need to prepare.
    Go through your week and decide what days you will need breakfast, lunch and dinner. Use your results to decide what meals you will prepare and how much to make for leftovers.
  2. Find recipes or pull together favorite meals.
    Whether you are looking for new recipes or working off your time-tested favorites, it is great to have them all in on spot. Then you can easily pick your meals/recipes for the week.
  3. Write your weekly schedule.
    Use a planner, notebook or phone app to keep track of your weekly schedule.
    Whatever you use, make sure it is accessible to any person who would be preparing meals.
  4. Write your list and pick a grocery shopping day.
    It helps if you keep the same day of the week, so it becomes part of a habit.
    Take advantage of grocery pick up and delivery options. If you know you are going to be short on time, try out online grocery ordering with pick up or delivery.
  5. Prep as much as you can and consider precooking some foods.
    Cut up veggies and fruits. Weigh meats and separate for each day.
    Cook pastas, rice or grains ahead so they are easy to warm up.
    Sorting your groceries in your refrigerator by the day of the week or by the meal can help streamline cooking on busy weeknights — especially if you have helpers.

Additional tips

Use a meal planning service or app to eliminate steps from your meal planning routine.

Meal kit services

  • There are quite a few subscription meal kit services out there to help you. These services do the meal planning, shopping and deliver your groceries.
  • Meal kit services include HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Sun Basket, Green Chef, Plated, Martha and Marley Spoon.

Meal planning services

  • Some services offer just the meal planning option and send recipes each week. This allows you to choose from those recipes and pick up your own groceries.
  • Meal planning services include emeals (my favorite), Once a Month Meals, $5 Meal Plan, CookSmarts and Plate Joy.

Meal planning apps

  • There are quite a few apps that can help you plan meals as well. These apps have a database of recipes that you can choose (or add your own) and the app helps you track them and create your shopping list.
  • Examples of apps include Yummly, Pepperplate and All Recipes.

Alyssa Monson, Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Weight Management