11 Steps to Meal Plan Easily and Efficiently

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Hello, hello! I’m happy to be back with another blog post for you! Today’s blog post is a life-changing one; I’m sharing my process on How to Meal Plan Easily and Efficiently. I don’t know about you, but when I read about what other women and bloggers are doing to meal plan, it seems like their meal planning system is making their lives more complicated instead of easier! This is super frustrating, as I’m looking for a system that can save me time and money, and provide relief in regard to the mental load around grocery shopping and cooking.

I set a goal to find an easier, more efficient way to meal plan. I’ve spent much time creating a system just like this and am excited to share my process with you today! Let’s get to it!

Step 1: Consider using Walmart or Amazon Fresh.

This is by far my top tip to meal plan easily and efficiently! I have tried both Walmart and Amazon Fresh, and I personally enjoy using Amazon Fresh because the 365 brand (Amazon and Whole Food’s generic brand) is sometimes cheaper and has higher quality ingredients than generic brands at other retailers. Additionally, both retailers allow you to add options from a laptop or mobile device, which is very convenient! Amazon Fresh even has an added perk in that you can command your Amazon Alexa to add options to your grocery cart.

I love being able to order my groceries online and finding the groceries magically delivered to my doorstep just a mere a few hours later! I live on the 5th floor, so delivery options help massively. It’s so nice not having to lug all the heavy groceries up 5 flights of stairs!

Screenshot of Amazon Fresh Home screen

Step 2: Add the basics to your cart or grocery list as soon as you run out.

If you use the last of the ketchup, immediately add it to your cart or list. I use this principle with items such as cheese, milk, eggs, meat, and pasta sauce (the staples in our home). Now I don’t have to worry about trying to remember what we need more of when I grocery shop. Instead of forgetting a staple, I take 1.5 minutes to add it to the cart once I use the last of it.

Step 3: Create your grocery list from your kitchen.

Oftentimes, when I decide what to cook and begin creating my grocery list, I can’t remember if I have a certain ingredient that’s needed for my meal. Consequently, I’ll order the ingredient just to be safe, and then find when the items are delivered, I already have 7 containers of breadcrumbs in the pantry.

Otherwise, If I can’t remember if I already have an ingredient, I’ll risk it and skip ordering it to save money. Later, I’ll have to make last minute grocery runs because I didn’t actually have the ingredient. Womp, womp! This is so inefficient and especially wasteful for ingredients that expire!

Instead, make your list while you’re standing in the kitchen. Then, you can quickly take a peak in the fridge to see if you have an ingredient already or need to add the ingredient to your grocery cart!

Couple creating a grocery list using an iPad from their kitchen.

Step 4: Take inventory.

Grocery shopping can be so expensive these days, am I right?! To stay in my budget, I begin my meal planning and grocery list by seeing what ingredients I have in stock. In doing this, I frequently realize I already have most of the ingredients for a meal we love, making it more budget friendly to plan that particular meal for the week!

I also take this time to see what items are about to expire. If I know an item is going to expire soon, I’ll prioritize a meal that includes the expiring ingredient so we can use it up!

Step 5: Research sales.

For the next step in my meal planning process, I’ll open the website for the retailer I’ll be shopping and check out the sales.

Typically, I’ll have one tab of my laptop open to Amazon Fresh, and one tab open to Pinterest. I love using Pinterest to research recipes! It’s so user-friendly and has such a wide variety of recipes available.

For example, if I notice marinara is on sale, I can quickly search “recipe with marinara” on Pinterest and browse the results for a recipe that looks yummy and achievable for my experience level of cooking.

Step 6: Use Pinterest to find your recipes.

After taking inventory of ingredients I have in stock and researching sale items, if I still have a few meals needed, I’ll search Pinterest for recipes that look delicious and have simple ingredients. Add any ingredients you need to make the recipe to your list or cart to meal plan easily and efficiently!

screenshot of pinterest board entitled "dinner", with many pictures of meal options.

Step 7: Print your recipes.

Once I’ve decided on the meals for the week, I print the recipes. I keep a binder with laminated sleeves (this way I can easily wipe off any spilled ingredients on the recipe while cooking.) I’ll add my recipes for the week to the back of my binder in a laminated sleeve.

If you like to stay organized like me, you can even add tabs to the side of the binder to categorize your recipes. You could have a tab for each day of the week and place the recipe behind the tab with the corresponding day, or you could categorize tabs by type, such as “poultry recipes”, “pork recipes”, “side dishes”, and “pasta dishes”.

Step 8: Schedule your meals for the week.

It’s completely unreasonable to plan to cook on Tuesday if you work a late shift and then attend a class at the gym after work, arriving home at 8:00 pm! Find days of the week when you’ll be home at a decent hour and still have enough energy to cook and schedule your meals then! On the busy days, you can plan to warm up leftovers, heat a frozen meal (be sure to add this to your cart or list), or grab takeout!

Step 9: Check out of your cart or physically grocery shop.

Now you’re all ready to shop! Another reason I love Amazon Fresh is because I can simply checkout and schedule delivery, making this such an easy step to meal plan easily and efficiently!

Step 10: Prep ingredients while putting away the groceries.

This step in meal planning involves completing any steps that will make your life easier when you cook later in the week! For me, this step includes freezing any items and washing all my produce so I don’t have to worry with it later in the week when I’m busy.

person washing produce

Step 11: Set reminders.

This is the last step in my meal planning process! I’m the queen of forgetting things, and I’d be rich if I had a quarter for all the times I’ve forgotten to thaw the meat for a meal. If any steps in the cooking process require work in advance (such as thawing meat), set a reminder on your phone for whenever you need to accomplish the step! This way you won’t have to worry about potentially forgetting, and then having to call in takeout consequently.

Wrap Up

Well, there you have it! My 11 Step Process to Meal Plan Easily and Efficiently! Using this system has taken so much stress out of meal planning for me, and I hope it does for you too! What tips do you have to make meal planning easy? Let me know in the comments below!

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23 thoughts on “11 Steps to Meal Plan Easily and Efficiently”

    1. I get that! Sometimes I think to myself, “I’ll just wing it” but it always ends up taking so much longer! I’m much more organized when I plan!

  1. You’re so organised!! Step 7: “print recipes and put in laminated sleeves”! I haven’t done that but that sounds like a good idea instead of scrolling to find a recipe I saved weeks ago.

    1. My mom actually taught me this tip and it’s made such a huge difference for me! She even has a binder full of her holiday recipes in addition to the year-round recipes!

    1. Yes, I’ve done the same so many times! Now I always make my list from the kitchen, and it hasn’t happened to me again! Hope this helps 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet compliments! Outsourcing the shopping has helped me immensely; I’m just too busy these days! Hope this helps!

  2. I love anything that makes cooking dinner easier – and these tips on meal planning will definitely help! I really like the tip on setting a reminder on your phone. I would never have thought to do that – great tip!

    1. I agree, less time cooking, more time eating and spending time with family! That’s my motto! Thanks for your sweet comment, I hope this post is helpful!

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