Meal Planning Tips for Busy People


Menu planning is extremely popular these days – just take a look at the hundreds of tutorials on Youtube if you don't believe me. With our busy lives, planning meals in advance is a great way to save time, money and still eat healthily. If you work long hours, have kids or just enjoy being organised, meal planning is definitely something to try. 

Firstly, get yourself a planner. It can be as basic as an old notebook or a beautifully decorated folder filled with coloured paper and file dividers to separate the different sections – it's entirely up to you (but any excuse to purchase new stationery is a good excuse in my book).
 
Here's what to keep in your planner:
 
Meal Plans: One day a week (Sunday is probably the most logical because you can plan for the coming week, but any day is fine) sit down and decide on the meals you want to make that week. This doesn't need to take a long time, but at a minimum decide on and note down seven different dinners you can cook. If you want to be really organised you can also plan breakfasts, lunches, desserts and snacks too.
 
Shopping Lists: On a new page or sheet of paper, write a shopping list for all the ingredients you'll need to make these meals. Then rip it out and put it straight into your purse/wallet/handbag/coat pocket so you don't forget to take it shopping with you. This will save you so much time during the week because you'll know what to make and will already have the ingredients. It'll keep you from having to rush to the supermarket after work to pick something up, or giving in and ordering a takeaway.
 
Recipes: A section of your planner should be dedicated to keeping note of recipes – tried and tested, old favourites and new ones you want to try. If you're stuck for meal ideas or sick of eating the same old things every week, flicking through these recipes should give you some inspiration. Not sure where to find new recipes? Cut them out of magazines, print them off from online (Pinterest is great), write them out when you see them on TV or photocopy them from cookbooks. If a recipe turns out to be a dud, don't bother keeping it. You're not going to make it again so just throw it away and don't let it waste any space in your planner (and your life)!
 
Other Stuff: If you have a large family you could also keep a list of everyone's favourite meals, food likes and dislikes, allergies, days you know certain people won't be eating at home, dates any guests will be coming over and any other useful information specific to your tribe.
 
Five Meal Planning Tips
 
1. If you Google the phrase 'meal plan template' you'll find loads of snazzy free printables to download. I think they look a lot more exciting than just plain white pieces of paper with my writing on them. You could choose a different one every week.
 
2. Stick your meal plan for the current week to the front of the fridge so it's easily accessible when you need to see it. That way you'll know what you're cooking and when. But also be flexible – things don't always go to plan, plus you may not feel like eating a certain meal when the day comes. So be prepared to switch days and feel free to save it until next week or even ditch it completely (this is why I suggested coming up with a minimum of seven, to have a few 'back-ups' ready).
 
3. Once the week is over, transfer any unmade meals to your meal plan for the following week and file the old plan and shopping list in the back of your planner. You might forget about a certain meal (I often do, as I like to experiment a lot) and looking back through your old plans will remind you of its existence.
  
4. As well as planning your meals, you could even prepare some or all of them in advance and keep them in the fridge or freezer. This is such a time saver on busy days.
 
5. Finally, don't let meal planning become a chore. It's saving you time and money in the long run. Have fun and be creative with it!
 
Do you plan your meals? How do you do it? Leave your tips in the comments!
 
 
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Comments

  1. I love organizing. Meal planning has been such a lifesaver for me! It makes sure that I have time left for other things that are important.
    I love the fact that there are meal templates out there. I will be sure to find some for my next session :)
    Great post as always hun!

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    1. Thanks! I love organising too. Meal planning can be such a timesaver for busy days. There are some beautiful free templates out there, just Google it and have a browse.

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  2. I really need to plan my meals because i end up having the worst diet! not so healthy! planning meals will surely help and these tips will too!

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    1. It will definitely help! Glad you liked the tips.

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  3. I used to do this all the time in college. It used to help me save the trouble to spend time on wondering about what to cook and how and instead I saved a lot of time in the days.

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    1. It's so useful if you're in college or have a busy job or a large family - it can benefit pretty much anyone, actually!

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  4. These tips are so handy! Since I got a new job at the start of the year I've had to take my own lunches. I usually make them the night before but I've been wanting to try meal prep for a while- https://sophiehearts.net x

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    1. Give it a go - it's not as hard as it seems!

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  5. Great tips Nic! Meal planning worked well for me when I was trying to lose weight. It’s such a great way to save money too. I agree, pretty stationery is always a good reason to start! xx

    Bexa | www.hellobexa.com

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    1. I love some pretty stationery! You're right, meal planning is an effective tool for weight loss as well as saving money.

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  6. I wish I was a bit better with planning my meals over the week :-) it actually saves some money too! These were great tips, thank you:-)

    lots of love, Jasmin
    littlethingswithjassy.com

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    1. It definitely saves money in the long run. Thanks Jasmin, glad you liked the tips!

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  7. Great suggestions. I really need to meal plan more. Some days I just stare in the fridge and don't know what to make. Other days I have nothing defrosted. Thank you for the ideas. Rachel from https://www.explorekidtalk.com/

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  8. We do already do all the tips you have listed and it saves us so much money. Everyone at work always marvels at how little we spend

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    1. That's great, it saves me a lot of money too. Just takes a little bit of planning and preparation but it's definitely worth it!

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  9. Thanks so much for those tips. Defo trying the plan 7 meals out, not sure if I could get 7 different ones each week though!!

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    1. Haha. That would be a LOT of meals. Try going back to recipes you enjoy and making them a few times a month.

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  10. Yass we do all of these and it's a massive help! I also suggest freezing your meat and getting out the meat you need in the morning to let it defrost. It saves so much money and waste

    Kay xx
    www.mummywho.com

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    1. Great tip, thanks for sharing!

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  11. I love meal planning! I need to get back into doing it as I have kind of slipped lately but these are some great tips!

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    1. I enjoy it too. I don't do it as often as I'd like but I feel so organised when I do!

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  12. These are some great tips. I really need to start making note of all the recipes as some are really quick and easy to make and sometimes I forget about them as I haven't made them in a while!

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    1. I'm the same! I try so many new recipes I often forget about ones I've made in the past.

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  13. These are such great tips! I always find myself a little stressed when I need to make lunches to take to work the next day and I realise that there isn't a lot in the house! Planning is definitely something I need to work on so I'll be bearing these in mind, thank you!
    Sophie - https://sophiehearts.net x

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    1. It can definitely be a little stressful when you've got no food left in the house and you have to try and make something out of nothing! Planning ahead definitely helps to tackle this problem, though :)

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