Learning how to meal plan was one of my favorite ways to get a hold of life, but it wasn’t always that way. Have you noticed that the words “meal planning” brings out the emotions in people? Some sigh, some growl, some roll their eyes. There aren’t many people that squee in delight over meal planning. I used to be the former, but now I’m the latter. How did I change that mentality?
I learned how to meal plan in 5 minutes.
Today, I’m going to share my system with you. Yes, you can do this. Yes, you can do it in 5 minutes. It’s all about understanding that meals can be as simple as possible, and that you don’t have to put in all the details in your meal plan, if you don’t have the time to do so. Are you ready to learn the steps that show you how to meal plan in 5 minutes? Let’s do this.
Write The Days Of The Week
Listen. I know this step may seem self-explanatory, but some of my dearest friends forget that this should be their first step. They may immediately go to the step of picking out their favorite chicken dishes, or adding broccoli to meals because it’s in the fridge. You have to list your days first! Why? Because there may be a day where you know you won’t have to cook, or you know that you eat something specific during a weekday. Does your family have pizza for dinner every Friday? Write that meal in for Friday. Do you participate in Taco Tuesday? That’s another meal! Dinner out on Sundays? That counts, too. If you didn’t write down the days FIRST, you might not have realized that you have 2 of your 7 meals figured out already.
Focus On Proteins and Themes
What proteins are always on your meal planning list each week? Make sure those are represented in your simple meal plan. Our family loves to have a beef, chicken, and fish dish each week, so that makes it easier for me to write down what we are going to have. We also love to have at least one Italian and Asian dish per week. Again, making it easy for me to fill in the blanks on my meal plan.
Here’s the real secret: instead of fretting over WHICH chicken dish to make that week, just write “chicken dish.” You can even write “chicken leg dish” or “chicken breast dish” if you want to get somewhat specific. Why does this help? Because it allows your brain to schedule the meal in your head, but gives you time to actually think of how you want to put it together. Sometimes, I even put “slow cooker chicken dish” so I know how the meal will be made, but I give myself the liberty to decide the other ingredients. This is also helpful if you want to use up items that are in the fridge or freezer.
Fill In The Blanks
By this time, you should have most of your meal plan done, and you should be around the 3 or 4 minute mark. This is when you look at what you’ve written, and start filling in any blanks. Did you add in a vegetarian dish yet? Has a pasta dish been added? Have you added a meal that doesn’t need to be made in the oven (gotta love those slow cookers and Instant Pots). Fill in those blanks with meals that are easy for you to put together, and may use up items that are already on hand in your home.
That’s it! By this time, you should have all of the meals of your week figured out. Whether you stuck with tried-and-true meals, or you gave yourself the option of trying something new by only listing the protein of a meal, you are one step ahead. Rejoice!
One Last Tip:
If you want to make this process even faster, give yourself 5 minutes or so to see what you currently have in your fridge, freezer and pantry. This will allow your mind to think of meals that will use up those items, and free up some of your grocery money. If you have it on hand, and it can be made into a delicious meal, then you don’t need to buy more ingredients at the store that week. But, do keep it to only 5 minutes. All you need to do is glance at each of these places in your kitchen to get an idea of what you have. We’ll share the dramatics of a stockpile inventory for another post.
If you’d like to SEE how to meal plan in 5 minutes, check out this video:
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