Updated: Sep 5
Use These Simple Tips to Set Your Meals Up For Success Each Week
For those that know me, I am a planner by nature in every aspect of my life. Hello to my Enneagram 3! Lol. I always strive to set myself up for success every weekend so I can go into each week feeling prepared and ready to conquer every day. For me, this starts with my grocery planning. Grocery shopping can feel so time-consuming and a hassle at times, and with my busy schedule, I couldn't afford to be spending all that time in the grocery store. I also found that when I didn't set weekly meal plans for myself, I would end up spending a long time in the grocery store and a lot more on my grocery budget than I intended. Over the last year, I have formed this grocery planning routine that has saved me time and much money, and I am excited to share it with you to simplify your meal planning each week! Whether you are new to healthy meal planning, trying to feed a big family, or don't have much time to think about your meals during the week, these tips will be lifesavers for your mind, health, and wallet.
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It might be completely mental, but I feel SO much better when I have put the thought and effort into deciding my grocery shopping list and strategizing my nutrition for that week. I don’t have to scramble at the last minute or give in to the temptation to eat out when I am on the go. I also eat a WHOLE LOT healthier and have a lot less food waste when I have put the time into this planning. These are 6 easy tips that I believe are the best way to make each week’s meals feel effortless.
1. Set A Day. I typically plan out my next week every Saturday. Setting a particular day each week to plan is a great way to set up a good habit, and it will make you more consistent in your planning. Before I begin planning, I always look at my and Devin’s calendars and see what we have coming up that week. For instance, some days we have late work meetings or evening events we need to plan around, so those nights we don’t plan complicated dishes. For those busier nights, we make sure that the previous meals we prepared had enough leftovers or are VERY simple meals.
2. Research. In my meal planner process, I pull out my Pinterest App and some of my favorite Cookbooks like Whole 30 Fast & Easy to find my favorite recipes to use for the week. I typically choose 3-4 bigger dishes or instant pot recipes to make during the week in anticipation of leftovers that can be used for more meals. Using tools like my Pinterest App or some of my favorite cookbooks allows me to plan for the healthy recipes that I want to fuel my week. I tend to always have some “quick and easy” backup ingredients in case something doesn’t go as planned as well. For example, at our house, we always have extra mixed greens, fresh vegetables, and gluten-free spaghetti noodles, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar on hand to make an easy Bruschetta pasta dish in case a meal doesn’t work out. Another favorite to have on hand is Banza chickpea mac and cheese. It is always super easy to throw together if Devin or I had an unanticipated day that prevents us from our original plan. It’s OKAY to fall off the original plan. Life happens, but that’s why we have a “fall-back” plan to still keep you on track for the week.
3. Set Your Budget. I typically have a range that I have determined each week I would like to spend on groceries, and it feels SO good when you hit that budget and make some pretty darn yummy food all in the process.😋 The budget you set each week is totally up to you, but I have found it helpful to at least have a ballpark amount that you are most comfortable with AND that aligns with the health choices you are wanting to make. I have also found that by setting a budget, I am less apt to waste the food I have gotten. Since I have allotted a particular amount and bought what I can afford each week, it makes me more resourceful to use the ingredients I have gotten and fewer leftovers and extra ingredients get wasted.
4. Write It Down. Maybe I am old school, but there is something so gratifying about writing down your plan for the week. I think it just gets me in the right mindset for the week. In my efforts to coordinate my week, I am being intentional about how I am structuring my week which causes less food anxiety and helps me fuel my body better than having to make decisions distressed, tired, and probably overly hungry since I didn’t plan ahead.😆 I typically plan our weekly meals while sitting at our kitchen counter and use my super cute monogrammed Erin Condren Journal (I know sooo extra 🤪) to write down all the details. You can use any of your favorite journals, meal planners, or meal planning apps, but I am just a big fan of my Erin Condren Planners and Journals, and that's what works for me. I map out each day of the week Monday-Sunday. Under each day, I put what dish I am making for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I include some flexible snacks for the week as well. A sample plan might look like this:
Breakfast: Steel Cut Oats w/ Raspberries & Walnuts
Lunch: Asian Salad w/ Fresh Fruits
Dinner: Mango Salsa Halibut
Dinner Backup: Banza Mac & Cheese
Snacks: Sliced Veggies or Protein Bar
As I plan out each day’s meals, I then have a column to the side that has my ongoing grocery list. When I am looking at recipes for a certain day, I always make sure to jot down the ingredients that will be in the recipes I have chosen. I personally think it is important to sit in your kitchen as you plan because it makes it easier to check your pantry or current refrigerator inventory as you are making your grocery list for your chosen recipes. This definitely keeps me from buying items I already have in stock in my kitchen.
5. Shopping. Once my list is complete, I log into my Fred Meyer or Amazon Prime Account. Depending on the week and the recipes I am wanting to make, I either use my Clicklist (Fred Meyer) or my Amazon Prime (Whole Foods) grocery-ordering services. I live very close to a Fred Meyer so picking up my Click List is pretty convenient, but there are some days when I need groceries delivered quicker or I don’t have time to go pick them up myself. That is where Amazon Prime’s Whole Foods delivery is clutch! They deliver right to your doorstep and they can do quick same-day deliveries which is SUPER helpful with our busy schedules.
I go through my whole shopping list and add each item to my online shopping cart on these platforms, and once I have added everything, the grocery's total dollar amount will show. There are times that the total may be over what I wanted to spend for that week. If I am not comfortable with how much it will cost, I go back to the drawing board and maybe swap out a recipe that would be less expensive for that week. I find it extremely helpful to be able to do this with your online shopping cart. I don’t know about you, but when I go to the grocery store physically, I make a lot of impulse buys or don’t take the time to see how much the total will come to until I check out. By using my grocery apps, I can take control of my impulse spending and make sure I am only getting what I need which is a satisfying feeling.
6. Preparing: My last item to set myself up for success is prepping my food. Now I am not talking meal prepping EVERY SINGLE food. I’ve tried this before, and I can say it’s not really my thing well besides breakfast foods like overnight oats or chia pudding… Personally, after a while with meal prepping, the food I’ve prepped just doesn’t taste appetizing, and I am a girl that likes some spice and variety, not the same thing over and over again.
After my groceries have come, I take some extra time to set my weekly menu plans up for success. I start with chopping up any veggies I was planning on having for snacks or to have in meals during the week. Next, I prep any breakfast meals like chia pudding, overnight oats, or oat muffins so that I have those ready to grab and go during the week. You can click here for one of my favorite oat muffin recipes. I wash any greens that are going to be used for the week, and I separate out my meat portions into baggies freezing what will be used later and refrigerating the ones that will be of immediate use in the next 24 hours. Each week this changes depending on the snacks and meals I have planned, but this habit definitely sets me up for success going into my week.
I think more than anything, building this grocery and meal planning routine has given me a lot more time back into my week, and it has given me a lot less anxiety over making "on the spot" decisions for meals. For someone who is very indecisive like me, having to choose meals on the spot usually results in eating out which makes me feel pretty icky and isn't too wonderful on the wallet. Taking the time to strategize my weekly menu puts some control back in my hands and helps me be intentional about my week from Day 1. I totally believe it’s the simple habits like planning your meals each week that help you be more productive during your week, build even better habits, and truly be the best version of yourself. I hope this simple planning process helps you have the best week!