How to Meal Plan for the Week

On Stories, when I asked you what you were most interested in or needed the most help with in organizing and productivity, I was flooded with responses!  It seems we all have areas we struggle with and many of us have too much to do and never enough time!  By far, the overwhelming majority of you said you wanted tips with meal planning and I totally get that!  The struggle is real with “what’s for dinner?”  We go through that in our house too.  I’m not above admitting that some nights it’s cereal for dinner! It happens!

How to meal plan the easy way

But, you don’t need help choosing a cereal, you need a plan!  So today, I’m going to share how I meal plan for our family of 4 and hopefully, this is helpful for your own family.

 1. Pick one day a week to meal plan

I think the hardest thing about meal planning is just setting aside a certain time of day each week to do it.  Then, plan for grocery shopping.  Then, plan for cooking.  It’s not that difficult to choose the meals you want to eat in a week, but you have to figure out what those meals will be, plot out the ingredients, shop for them, then make the meal.  Do you have a set time each week for that?  If not, write that out now!

how to meal plan

Skinny JoggersAthletic Top • Seamless Sports Bra 

On Saturday mornings, after I’ve gotten the kids breakfast made and they’re playing, I sit down with my cup of coffee and make a meal plan for the week.  I actually love this part of my Saturday morning.  I might actually escape to my room for 30 minutes so I won’t have kids crawling all over me while I do it!

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2. plan your meals according to your activities

Before I plan what we’re going to eat each night, I figure out what’s going on in our week.  If we have sports or something, I won’t have time to cook a big meal, so I plan for something fast, use the slow cooker, or eat leftovers that night.

Also, it’s easy to meal plan if you eat certain things on repeat. For example, for breakfast, I always have either a protein pancake or oatmeal.  I might put peanut butter on my pancake, or change up the toppings on my oatmeal, but that’s what I eat every single day.  I really haven’t gotten bored of it because I like both of those things, but every once in awhile I might change it up and have peanut butter on toast or bacon and eggs.

For lunch, you might often have a chicken salad or soup and a sandwich with some fruit.  Easy peasy.

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3.  check your fridge/freezer/pantry

I’ve been working at getting better at seeing what’s inside our pantry, and planning meals around that.

If you are out of meal ideas (we ALL get in ruts!), type in “healthy dinners” into Pinterest, Food Network, Google or and have a million options at your fingertips.  Or search “30 minute meals” or “chicken dinner” if you have chicken on hand, but not a clue what to do with it.

Last year, I wrote out a long list of meals (with where the recipe came from) that we like to eat and put it inside my recipe binder, so I’ll often pull that out for ideas.  I’m usually surprised that I forgot, “oh yeah, we like spaghetti carbonara” or whatever and add that to the meal plan.

I also LOVE reading through my cookbooks and getting ideas from there.

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Think Internationally 

Another way to think of meals is to always eat a certain type of food on a certain day, for example:

Meatless Monday

Taco Tuesday

Italian/Chinese/Indian – Wednesday

Salads on Thursday – doesn’t have to just be lettuce and tomatoes! Think pasta salad, bean salad, noodle salad . . .

Pizza on Friday – you can make your own!

Saturday – dinner out or order in

And honestly, we only cook about 3 dinners a week.  The rest is leftovers!  And once a week we go out or order in! 

how to meal plan 8

Moto Leggings Sports BraAthletic TopPink SneakersNo Show Socks 

4. Look at store sales

I don’t use coupons unless I’m shopping online and there’s a virtual coupon right there with the item.  I just find them too time consuming and not worth it.  But, I will browse the sales and see if there’s anything that catches my eye that I can get at a bargain and incorporate that into our meals.

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5.  Plan your breakfast, lunch and dinner each day

Especially if you’re trying to eat healthier or lose weight, plan what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It helps to do this the night before as opposed to on the spot because if you don’t set your plan, chances are what you “want” to eat may be different from what you’ve “planned” to eat.  Am I right?!

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So, once you have your meal plan ready, you’ve written out what you need to shop for, go to the grocery store only once a week!   We go on Saturday, but either: 1)  just my husband will go to the store while I stay home with the kids; 2) we all go as a family; or 3) I order online and one of us goes to pick them up.

Ordering groceries online has been really handy!  It costs $5 at my store for pickup and you can even get them delivered for $12.  Have y’all tried that?  Because shopping with kids . . .

He said she hit him with that box! Poor guy!


Of course at the beginning of the new year I’ve been extra motivated to workout and eat healthy.  The athletic wear I’m wearing in this post is all from Nordstrom and they have a huge selection of quality workout clothes!  I usually shop online because #time, but also because their website is super easy to navigate with big, clear bright photos.  And the free shipping and free returns makes it a no brainer.

For workout clothes, I’m a huge fan of Zella because not only is their stuff cute, but it lasts forever!  How cute are these leggings?! I love the ‘grey wolf’!

If you need a really good sports bra for running, I recommend the this one!  It’s super comfortable and you can adjust the velcro shoulder straps. No more doubling up on sports bras to run!

zella joggers and sports bra

JoggersSports BraNo Show Socks • Sneaks

Trust me, you will love these joggers!  They are perfect for running around in too and super lightweight.  XXS is my perfect size in them.

This sports bra is great for low impact sports and I like it for weight lifting.  It has a cute keyhole back too!

Definitely invest in a good pair of no show socks if you haven’t already.  This is my current preferred pair that stays put and doesn’t make my feet sweat!

My sneakers are pretty and functional, unfortunately, sizes are limited!

These high waist crop leggings are my go-to for working out.  The high waist makes me feel less self-conscious and they feel great on!


Now that you’ve got your meal plans ready and your new athletic wear – what’s for dinner this week?! I’m looking for some new recipes πŸ˜‰


Affiliate links used in collaboration with Nordstrom.



  1. January 10, 2018 / 5:49 am

    I love planning one theme for each night of the week. Makes meal planning so much easier!

    • January 10, 2018 / 2:56 pm

      Yes! And can be so fun on the night of. Also helps keep things consistent for my picky eater!!

    • January 10, 2018 / 2:58 pm

      Hi Deanna! All hail grocery pick-up! It’s been a real lifesaver for us!! πŸ™‚

  2. Melissa
    January 10, 2018 / 6:07 am

    I loved this post! My son is getting a lot better now that he’s 7 for actually eating the meals I make ? but now my daughter (2) is starting to get picky! Ah! I also love grocery store pick up. Worth the $10 to not have to take kids!

    Xo Melissa

    • January 10, 2018 / 9:38 am

      I have the opposite problem! My 7 year old is the picky one and my almost 2 year-old eats everything!

  3. January 10, 2018 / 6:19 am

    The weeks I take the time to meal plan always run SO much smoother and also end up being healthier. I just have to be intentional about doing it- I love your idea of picking one day a week to commit to planning!

    • January 10, 2018 / 3:00 pm

      That’s been the BEST thing for me! Before, it would be Sunday night when all I wanted was to go to bed or some random time during the week and I wouldn’t really put my best foot forward on the planning. It’s a really good thing to keep up with that one time a week that’s just for me and meal planning… and coffee!!

  4. Kristi
    January 10, 2018 / 7:11 am

    Thanks for these ideas! Setting a specific day and time to meal plan is something I need to do. My weeks go so much better when I plan it out. I also keep a list of meal ideas that I can refer to. I keep the list on my phone so I can look at it when I’m drawing a blank on what to make (usually when I’m standing in the middle of the grocery store in a big hurry). If I cook something new and everyone likes it, I add it to my list. My big challenge is finding meals everyone will eat. I try to make it healthy plus fast plus I have a picky eater in my house.

    • January 10, 2018 / 3:02 pm

      Hi Kristi! Good idea keeping that list on your phone for those time we’re in a pinch! I might have to add a go-to list to my notes for those crazy days/weeks!!

  5. January 10, 2018 / 7:33 am

    OMG I love this. I do this but I need a cuter meal plan notebook. Where’s yours from?

  6. Julie
    January 10, 2018 / 7:59 am

    Making a super easy Chicken Tortilla soup tonight in the crock pot! Thanks for this! Where did you get your meal plan notebook from?

  7. Mireille
    January 10, 2018 / 8:21 am

    Planning out not only dinners but also what I will eat for breakfast snacks and lunch definitely helps me eat healthier. I can wing those for the kids but if I am not intentional with what I will eat the rest of the day apart from dinner I will eat junk food!

    • January 10, 2018 / 3:04 pm

      Hi Mireille! Yes, planning it ALL is a great idea! Then you know you have the good stuff on hand, or if you make the effort to meal prep a snack, you’re hopefully more likely to eat that instead of stealing some extra goldfish from the kids πŸ™‚

  8. January 10, 2018 / 9:17 am

    I was planning to post how we meal plan this week as well, but got sidetracked with mom being in the ER. We plan very much the same way. I sit down on Sunday with cookbooks, my favorite recipes binder, and new print outs from Pinterest. Make a grocery list after choosing the meals for the week. We rotate our proteins, something my naturopath suggested as to not have our bodies develop sensitivities to things we eat repetitively. We do try to have one meatless night a week. Doing this more now that Katie has to restrict her beef intake and gets tired of fish and chicken. I do believe the KEY is having a well stocked pantry, and I know you would agree. If things get sidetracked during the week we usually have something else we can put together with what’s in it.
    I am dying over the pic of James and Jordan…so remember shopping with mine at that age. They will tell you we loved our local Kroger back in the day. McDonald’s was in the same parking lot. It is amazing what a large fry can do πŸ˜‰

    • January 10, 2018 / 2:55 pm

      Aw Lauren, sending prayers for your mom!!

      I like the rotating proteins, I always think about not getting bored of the same food – but I guess it’s a good health/science reason too! And I do agree on the pantry, working on getting a post together for that too! It’s always good to have a fall-back for those crazy days (or heaven-forbid I FORGET to set the crockpot!!!). It’s always an adventure grocery shopping with those two, we may have to pack snacks next time!

  9. Crista Holstege
    January 10, 2018 / 12:19 pm

    Love this post!! In my house we are meal planning junkies! It’s so much easier during the week! Thanks for the post on new ideas on theme nights, love that!

    • January 10, 2018 / 2:50 pm

      I have loved incorporating the theme nights! I hope y’all will too! It’s helpful on the front end and can be exciting on the actual night of the meal too!

  10. Angie
    January 10, 2018 / 12:30 pm

    Where is your grocery list pad from?

  11. Amy
    January 10, 2018 / 2:22 pm

    Great post!! Meal planning for us is a must, otherwise we end up eating out too much. I love having leftovers too….helps so much to make large batches of something (chili) and freeze some for nights with sports practice, etc. Thanks for the great tips!

    • January 10, 2018 / 2:47 pm

      Thanks Amy!! It’s so easy some days to just call in something when you’re running behind!! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  12. January 10, 2018 / 3:19 pm

    Great tips! And I love your handwriting! I have SUCH a hard time with meal planning because of picky eaters (and I don’t have kids!). I also completely forget to eat during the day, though I feel awful when I don’t. You’re right about being intentional, you have to sit down and make a plan, then shop for the groceries and then actually make the thing. I need to find a time to make some of these decisions because it’s really not fun scrounging around at the last minute or running to the grocery store at 9 pm!

  13. Desiree
    January 10, 2018 / 7:33 pm

    Thank you Megan for this post. I definitly need to start taking time out during the weekend to meal plan so we don’t go off from eating healthy and eating bad food. I just used your link to pick up that meal planner from Amazon. Have a great night!

  14. Jane
    January 10, 2018 / 9:07 pm

    Great post Megan! Planning ahead makes meal times so much easier.
    I would encourage you to check out the cookbook “”Yum and Yummer”.
    There is a website too with quick videos of every recipe (which you can link to through the QR codes in the book).
    There are some great recipes in there.
    Give it a try!!

  15. January 11, 2018 / 2:54 am

    I like planning process too, I love that photos with everyhing is available in your food storage, so is sure you don’t overbuy determinated items you don’t really need…also if I’m not a mum ywet I understand that do shopping with kids can became a little bit hard, I saw and still seeing scenes into grocery…this january one of my goals is eat healtier but low cost and planning and leftovewrs can p me a lot:DAll of your tip are welcome:D

    • January 15, 2018 / 10:05 am

      It definitely helps when it’s easier to see everything! It can be difficult, but it becomes a little easier when you’re organized and know what you’re going in for. You got this! Hope your year is off to a great start! πŸ™‚

  16. January 11, 2018 / 9:33 am

    Your post inspired me to actually try meal planning! The few times I’ve done it the week has gone much smoother. I plan out my lunche and breakfast is always the same, but dinner can go haywire. And I LOVE that you have the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks! She’s my fave, I have them all too πŸ™‚

    • January 15, 2018 / 10:03 am

      Yay, I’m so glad!! I love them so much! So many yummy recipes πŸ™‚

  17. Giuseppina
    January 11, 2018 / 10:38 pm

    Love this! Can you share some of your favorite meals?

  18. Lindsey Giles
    January 14, 2018 / 9:02 pm

    Tell me about where you got the containers and things to organize your pantry! I’m on a big organizing and purging kick and am wanting to tackle the pantry next.

  19. Alison K
    January 14, 2018 / 9:06 pm

    I have meal planned for years. I used to figure out my meals waiting in car pool. Now I do it on sunday evening since I work part time
    I write my menu out and what I need at store then my husband adds what other things we need plus we have a board to write things on that we are out of. My husband looks at the sales and look for coupons. The best thing he does for me because I don’t like going grocery shopping is put things down on the list by aisle. I would rather be doing other things then going to the grocery store I don’t mind cooking I just don’t want to go buy the stuff and unfortunately he does not have the time with his job to do it for us. But meal planning is great.

    • January 15, 2018 / 9:47 am

      Wow this is so awesome, sounds like you guys really have your routine down! It’s great that it’s something you do together. Grocery shopping isn’t my favorite either but if you’re organized at least you get in and out fairly quickly. Hope you’re having a great start to your week! πŸ™‚

  20. Jess T
    January 19, 2018 / 4:38 pm

    Can I just say, that picture of the kids in the shopping cart made my day! Glad I’m not the only one who sometimes has uncooperative kids when it comes to grocery shopping!!! They are so cute, even when they aren’t having the best time. Haha.

    • January 21, 2018 / 4:05 pm

      That’s shopping with kids for ya!! πŸ˜‰

  21. Victoria S
    January 22, 2018 / 9:15 am

    Do you guys not have WalMart pick up in your area yet? Order your groceries online, drive to the store, and they’ll put them in your trunk. And it’s FREE!

    A new quick recipe I found is cool ranch chicken tacos in the slow cooker:
    2 lbs chicken breast
    2 tbs vinegar
    2 tbs olive oil
    1 packet ranch seasoning (or use homemade seasoning)
    1 packet taco seasoning ( or use homemade seasoning)

    pour liquids in bottom of slow cooker, add chicken and seasonings.
    Cook 7-10 hours on low, depending on if you used frozen or thawed chicken breast.

  22. Rubal
    April 10, 2018 / 3:07 pm

    Hi Megan,

    I love your blog. You mentioned you have picky eater. My 8 year old is picky eater as well. I never know what to make him for dinner. He won’t touch anything I make for everyone else. I am always struggling and try to come up with new things for him to try. Can you please do a blog on what you kids eat.

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