Do you often find spoiled food or expired untouched in your refrigerator or pantry?  Have you experienced cooking your meal only to find out you are missing a key ingredient?  Are you tired of the same meals over and over again? Do you end up ordering food or dining out because you don’t have ingredients?  If you said yes to any of the questions, you need to start or level up your meal planning.

Meal planning is essential in every household.  When you plan your meals, you will enjoy the following benefits:

·       Reduce food wastage

·       Introduce variety in your meals

·       Lesser trips to the grocery

·       Save money

·       Help you make healthier food choices

We are sure these benefits are enough to make you excited to start your weekly meal plan.  To help you, we have prepared 12 tips on how to prepare a meal plan.

12 Tips to Make Meal Planning Easy

1.    Set a regular day to make your family’s weekly meal plan and grocery shopping.

Pick a day in your week when you intend to do your meal plan and grocery.  It’s best to stick to the schedule so that it becomes part of the household routine.  For example, you can do your meal plan every Friday and do your grocery shopping every Saturday.

2.     Use a Meal Planning Template

Use a meal planning template to organize the list of your meals and grocery items.  You can download and print the Tiny Steps Meal Planning Template for your convenience. 

Alternatively, you can also search Google PlayStore and Apple Store for meal planning and grocery list apps if you prefer to do things on your mobile phone. 

3.     Check your pantry and refrigerator.

When you do meal plan, you should consider the ingredients and leftovers you still have in your pantry and refrigerator.  Plan to eat the leftovers, fruits, vegetables, and other food which are nearing expiration date early in the week.  You may choose to re-heat the leftovers or re-invent it into a new dish.


Keep your pantry and refrigerator organized by categorizing the food items.  This way, it will be easier to see the inventory of your stocks at home.

4.    Keep a list of food that is low in supply.

It is good to have a well-stocked pantry at all times so that you can quickly whip up meals using pantry staples. 

To lessen the time you spend on checking on your inventory weekly,  list out the pantry staples you notice that already low in supply.  You don’t have to wait until meal planning day to make this list.   Remember, do not wait until your containers are empty before stocking up again.  Doing this will help you lessen if not eliminate, last-minute grocery runs.

Tip: Keep this list near the pantry or on the refrigerator so that it’s visible.

5.    Get your family involved in meal planning.

Consider your family members’ preferences and diet restrictions when planning the meal.  You can ask for their suggestions on what meals they prefer.  You can have a regular meal planning meeting or casually discuss the meal plan over dinner.  

Your husband and kids will surely appreciate that you are considering their opinions. Also, by involving them in the meal planning, you can ensure that they will enjoy the food selection and share the responsibility of meal planning among the family members.

6.    Keep a list of well-loved food.

It can be challenging to think of food to prepare and cook every week.  To make it easier, you can make a list of food that you and your family enjoy.  Divide your list into categories like Appetizers, Salad, Pork, Beef, Chicken, Seafood, Vegetables, Smoothies, and Desserts.  In this way, it’s faster to select food and ensure variety.


You can also organize your recipe according to cuisine. You can opt to have a specific theme or cuisine on a particular day or week. For instance, you can have Taco or Pizza nights.

7.    Try new recipes. 

pumpkin soup recipe

Be on the lookout for new recipes to try. You can check out the internet, social media, or recipe books for ideas and inspiration.  When the family likes what you have cooked, do not forget to list the recipe for future reference.  Keep all recipes organized and handy, so it’s easy to list the items you need to buy from the market or grocery. 

8.    Consider your family’s lifestyle and schedule when planning the meals.

Take into account the family member’s activities and lifestyle throughout the week.  These can affect the complexity of the food you will prepare, the selection of ingredients, and the amount of serving.

For instance, if you know that you will have a busy day at work, plan for something easy to prepare. If your kids have sleepovers, consider preparing less food while they are not home.

If you have family members who are athletes, and have specific nutrition requirements, consider that in your plan.

9.    Be prepared with back-up meals.

There might be instances when the store runs out of the product you need for your recipe, or you suddenly become busy that day.  Be ready to adjust your meal plan for quick and low prep time meals.

10.  Go Easy on yourself.

If you are a meal planning beginner or expert, don’t pressure yourself to plan and cook all meals seven days a week.  Allow yourself to have some dinner nights off from cooking. You can take a break once in a while. 

11.  Use frozen ingredients.

Frozen vegetables may have more or less the same nutrient content as compared to fresh vegetables. You may opt to consider to keep frozen ingredients handy for longer shelf life.

12.  Consider cooking in big meals

One way to save time on meal planning and preparation is to make a hefty serving of a meal and then freezing portions of it. You can quickly heat the food for busy days and nights.

Meal planning does not need to be intimidating, especially if you follow the tips we listed.  With practice, we are sure you will be able to be an expert meal planner.

We love to hear if you have found the meal planning tips helpful in your home.  Please send us your reactions and feedback in the comments section below.

Tiny Steps

We play,learn and grow with children.

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