Meal Planning

Meal Planning – one of my goals for the year

Meal Planning is something I read about all the time and I know its a good idea but I just don’t seem to have enough energy to get my head around it.


I am no expert on this clearly – so I knew that I had to get someone to help me work through this. Thankfully Diane N. Quintana from DNQ solutions has come to our assistance is going to help us work out how to do it.


If we follow this step by step guide we should be able to get our head around Meal Planning. I am committed to doing it this year! Come on – let’s do it together.


Thanks Diane, I really appreciate your help with this!


Meal Planning – how to avoid last minute cooking


Do you ever find yourself scratching your head and wondering what am I going to whip together to make a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner? I have a solution for you. You have to take some time each week and plan these meals.


Doesn’t Meal Planning take too much Time

Yes. I agree. But it is worth it.


Meal planning does take time. The good news is that the more you plan your meals the easier and less time consuming it becomes.


The Benefits of Meal Planning

There are many benefits which come from meal planning. You will:

  • learn which meals your family love.
  • save money by first shopping from your pantry instead of buying everything you need for a recipe at the store.
  • save time by having almost everything already at home – no need to rush to the store in a panic searching for something to prepare quickly for your family.
  • spend less time eating out or ordering take away.


meal planning for beginners

The Step-by-Step Meal Planning Guide


Here is a step by step guide to planning all the meals for your family; breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Find the time to Meal Plan

  1. Set aside an hour one day a week for this task. I like to plan my meals on Saturday morning and then shop on Sunday afternoon. You decide what works best for you and your schedule.
  2. Take out a calendar. I recommend a paper calendar. You can use a monthly calendar with big blocks or a weekly calendar. I have included a free printable weekly calendar attached. Write with pencil so that you don’t have to scratch things out.
  3. You can transfer it later to your electronic calendar if you wish.


What to consider

  1. Look at the activities for the week.
  2. Note when the afternoon activities end. This will have an impact on your choice of evening meal that day.

For example, you may want to make a casserole or one pot dish in the morning if you will be getting home late in the afternoon.


Start with breakfast 

I’m not suggesting that you must make a hot breakfast every morning.


I AM however suggesting that you look through your pantry and figure out if you have enough breakfast food to last the week.


I used to leave out fruit, cereal, milk, bread, or muffins for my children when they were old enough to get their own breakfast.


As a former pre-school teacher, I know that the children attend better when they have had breakfast in the morning.


Plan Lunch

Whether your children carry their lunch to school or have lunch at home plan to have some of the following on hand:

  • sandwich material
  • soups
  • fruit
  • snacks
  • cookies to either pack in their lunch boxes or have at home.

I also like to plan to have healthy snacks for when the children and I get hungry in between meals. Small packs of chips are great because the serving size is pre-determined – there isn’t an option to over-indulge.


Plan Dinner

  1. Work out how much time you’ll have to prepare the meal. Consider the activities that take place in the afternoon. I always plan on getting home a little later than I think I will. There’s usually something that delays me from getting home right on time.
  2. Choose your recipes based on the time you have available.
  3. Now that the meals are planned look in your pantry. Do you have any of the non-perishable ingredients you will need this week?



Shopping in accordance with your Meal Plan

Draw up your grocery list and schedule time to go to the store for all the non-perishable ingredients and 2 or 3 days’ worth of perishable ingredients.


Make a list of the perishable ingredients that you will need to buy later in the week. It’s important to schedule that next trip to the store to get the remaining ingredients.

meal planning how to start

I’m a mom – I get it!

I fully understand that life happens and sometimes the best laid plans must be changed. However, it’s easier to shift gears, switch meals around, or decide that take out is the best option today when you have a plan to change.
You won’t have to waste time wondering what to cook for your family and then running out to the store.
Try planning your meals one week at a time for a month and see if you save yourself time and money. This is a system that works well for me and I hope it works well for you, too!



Diane N. Quintana, CPO®, CPO-CD® is from DNQ Solutions, LLC. You can find more from Diane at her DNQ Solutions site  or follow her on Twitter or like her Facebook Page.


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5 thoughts on “Meal Planning

  1. I love that you acknowledge that this is a struggle for you too! The fact that my husband does the grocery shopping makes this even more of a challenge for me. Taking some time to at least get my lunches planned for the week would save me from going out to eat so often, which means fewer calories and spending less money.

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