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When I first looked at meal planning blog posts, I shrugged them off. They over-complicated meal planning when it can be so simple. You don’t need a type A personality to get organized in the kitchen. I will teach you my way on how to start meal planning TODAY and how you can do it CONSISTENTLY forever.
What is meal planning?
Let’s get to the basics: meal planning is just as the name suggests. You plan out meals in advance, whether it be a week or a month in advance.
In this guide, we will focus on weekly meal planning.
Meal Planning Goals (What do we gain from meal planning?)
First and foremost, meal planning reduces your headache in the kitchen. Instead of idly standing there looking at your fridge or pantry and taking longer than it needs to be, meal planning allows for quick decisions and productive time in the kitchen.
Meal planning lowers your grocery bills. By knowing what you’re going to cook and eat, you won’t be scrummaging isle after isle and picking items you never intended.
Meal planning eliminates waste. When you know how much you need, you do not overbuy. There are fewer chances that the groceries you bought will end up in the trash, rotten and stinky.
What are the steps I need to take to start meal planning?
Make a list of what you like to eat based on breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast: eggs & bacon, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes
Lunch: spam musubi, imitation crab or kimchi fried rice, lazy bulgogi, leftovers
Dinner: udon carbonara, pork bossam, beef and broccoli, bulgogi, buffalo wings, spaghetti, stir fried udon, dynamite mussels, kimchi pork stew, steak, potato tacos, tinola, japchae, etc.
Actively plan for dinner. Wait for breakfast and lunch.
The hardest meal to plan for is dinner.
Look at the list above. Do you notice that breakfast and lunch contain ingredients you can easily store in the fridge or pantry? Breakfast and lunch do not need to be complicated. While it’s a good idea to plan for breakfast and lunch, it’s something you can put on the back burner as you dive into meal planning. Instead, keep breakfast and lunch ingredients that have a reasonable, long-term shelf life and can be stored in the pantry, fridge, or freezer.
Dinner needs the most attention because it’s probably when we have the most time to make food. Dinner can always turn into leftovers for lunch. Whether you eat breakfast or not, it is usually simple like oatmeal, cereal, fruit, etc.
So if you’re going to start meal planning, start with dinner.
If you do not like leftovers…
I’m not a fan of leftovers too, but I’m definitely not a fan of making two dishes a day. If you do not like leftovers, you’re probably thinking about eating leftovers for several days. But if you eat one dish at another time on a different day, it isn’t too bad.
Have a pantry meal ready. (And plan at least once a week.)
Pantry recipes are the best because they are not time-sensitive. These are perfect when your cooking goes awry. You’ll avoid an extra trip to the grocery or a out-of-budget take-out dinner. You also need it for last-minute dinner plan. If you have a pantry meal in your meal plan, you can always shift it to the next week and won’t have to waste food (and money).
Get a calendar and use it!
I’m not type A whatsoever, but these days digital calendars got me hooked. It’s very easy to create an “event” and drop your meal plan for the week. Then you can view it on your phone or laptop any time.
Now here’s what you have to do moving forward:
For the next two weeks, designate a dinner meal for each day.
Keep in mind the days you are most likely not going to cook. For example, I do not meal plan weekends because I visit family and eat with them instead.
These steps are the EXACT steps I took in order to get myself ahead of the dinner schedule and eventually have all my meals planned out.
Be accountable. Leave a comment below if you were able to follow through with these steps and meal plan consecutively.