Meal Planning Basics

Do you want to lose weight, decrease your stress and improve your health? I have a simple solution for you: meal planning. Creating a plan for the week prevents last minute frozen pizzas and drive thru visits. Meal planning can be a quick process that helps you eat better and saves money.

My DIY model requires 30 minutes or less, a piece of paper and a writing utensil (or a computer).

  1. Look at the week ahead and identify crazy schedule days, note any commitments.
    1. Swim lessons, meetings, birthdays, parties, etc.
  2. Select 1-2 breakfast ideas, 2 lunch ideas, 4-5 dinner ideas and 4 snack options.
    1. Use family favorites, Pinterest, online recipe sites, Eating Well Magazine, cookbooks, friends and restaurants for inspiration. Print or save your recipes.
    2. Invite your partner and/or kids to join the brainstorm.
    3. Identify who’s going to make what and when.
  3. Create a “master” shopping list, look through the pantry, freezer and refrigerator to create an actual shopping list for the week.
  4. Identify things you can prep or make ahead to free up time during the week. Don’t forget to schedule your prep time!
    1. Hard boiled eggs, wash and dice fresh fruit and veg, energy bites or bars, smoothies, batch cook meat, cook a grain for the week, salad dressing
  5. Follow your plan for the week. Feel the “what am I going to eat tonight?” stress melt away and watch the numbers on the scale tic down as you eat less processed, fast food.
  6. Repeat the meal planning process four times. Save each week, the recipes, master shopping list and prep list. And, easy peasy, repeat the week-one plan when you get to week-five. Give week-one a quick review, change any recipes that didn’t work, use the master list to create a shopping list and away you go!

At the bottom of the post is a sample one-week meal plan designed for a family of four. I did not include kids’ lunches in the meal plan or shopping list, please add in what your family needs (we typically use leftovers or whatever we prepared for the adults). Note: The shopping list looks long, but look through the pantry, freezer and refrigerator before creating your list for the week. Many of the items on the shopping list are often in the kitchen of families that shop at box stores.

Does meal planning sound too time consuming? You can purchase meal plans from a variety of sources. My current favorite is Real Plans This company accommodates vegetarian, paleo, autoimmune protocol and traditional food preferences.

Go ahead, give meal planning a shot, you have nothing to lose! If you are overwhelmed by planning the whole week, start with breakfast and maybe snacks, consider adding as you get more comfortable with the process.

In Health,

Sherrill Collins, MS, RDN


Week-One Meal Plan

  Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks
Sunday Pancakes & Sausage Minestrone Soup Italian Sausage Pasta with Salad Apple + String Cheese
Monday Farmers Market Egg Casserole   & Melon Minestrone Soup  

Teriyaki Chicken with Steamed Veggies and Rice

Fage Greek Yogurt with Fruit
Tuesday Pancakes & Sausage Minestrone Soup  

Swim Lessons

Crockpot Chicken Tacos with tortillas, cheese, avocado, mixed greens and plain yogurt

Orange + Beef Jerky
Wednesday Farmers Market Egg Casserole Broccoli Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing and Ham  

Classic Cheeseburgers with oven fries and salad

Carrots + Hummus
Thursday Pancakes & Sausage Broccoli Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing and Ham  

Swim Lessons

Tuna melts with Tomato Soup

Apple + String Cheese
Friday Farmers Market Egg Casserole  

Broccoli Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing and Ham

Spenard Roadhouse Fage Greek Yogurt with Fruit

Farmers Market Egg Casserole

Leftovers Leftovers Orange + Beef Jerky


Prep List

  • Make pancakes, cool and package for the refrigerator, freeze if not eaten after 4-5 days
  • Make egg bake, cool, cut into appropriate portions and place in containers for an easy, on the go breakfast
  • Cut up melon
  • Make soup
  • Make salad
  • Wash and prep all fruits and veggies for snacks

Week-One Meal Plan PDF: week-one-meal-plan-for-meal-planning-blog

Week-One Shopping List PDF: week-one-meal-plan-shopping-list




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