How To Start Meal Planning (plus yummy starter recipes)

Learn how to start meal planning, plus get yummy starter recipes and kitchen tools to make cooking and baking for your family easier!

Meal Planning for Beginners : The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook with 80+ Quick and Easy Recipes, Weekly Plans and Ready-to-Go Meals

 

What is Meal / Menu Planning?

Meal planning is the best thing since sliced bread. You’ll never have to hear your family ask those three dreaded words “what’s for dinner” again – if you’re like me, you’ve printed a menu planner (or bought one here) and thumbtacked it in the kitchen for all the world to see.

One month of glorious days with delicious, easy, (and hopefully) budget friendly recipes that you’ll never get sick of because you’ve realized a whole new world of recipes (thanks, Pinterest)!

Erin Condren Designer Petite Planner Bundle - Meal Planner Bundle with Stickers (Includes Meal Planner with Illustrative, Functional, and Cute Stickers)

Petite Meal Planner Bundle

There are five main tips to get started with meal planning. They are:

Write down recipes you love, and ones you’d love to try (search Pinterest and online)

Write your grocery list of all the ingredients you’ll need (you’ll soon realize that a lot of recipes call for basic pantry staples, which makes this process so much easier in the long run)

Go shopping for all the recipe ingredients (the fun part, right?)

Make sure you also have the kitchen tools for the recipes you need, such as food storage

Prepare your meals!

tips to successful meal planning

Before we go any further, I should note that you don’t have to cook and bake every single day for the rest of your life. No. Absolutely not.

I love eating out or grabbing fast food from my favorite joint just as much as the next gal, so be sure to pencil this in on your meal planner. Maybe every Friday or Saturday is pizza night at your house – add it! Or maybe your family has a fun tradition with other friends and family members like Sunday brunch at Sally’s house – add it!

This will help you to not get burned out from meal planning, and might even give you ideas for the next week / month!

 

weekly meal plan cookbook recipes

Here are a few more tips to successful meal planning:

Start jotting down recipes you know and love. Maybe it’s spaghetti and meatballs once a week. You don’t have to come up with new recipes every single day

Save those leftovers and create a “leftovers day” – trust me, these days will come!

Remember when I said a lot of recipes are made up of basic common pantry staples? You’ll want to come up with recipes that have common ingredients too – this will help stretch your budget. If you are wondering what basic pantry staples are, wonder no more…

Basic Pantry Staples for Meal Planning

Basic Pantry Staples for Meal Planning:

Pantry Staples List Free Printable

List of Pantry Staples

Examples of essential pantry staples:

Oils – extra-virgin olive oil, vegetable oil or canola oil, shortening

Butter – both salted and unsalted

Salt and pepper (you’ll be surprised by how much you use these!)

Stocks and Broths – chicken, beef, vegetable

Rice such as white, brown, jasmine

Pastas – noodles galore!

Beans – black, pinto, kidney you name it

Canned tomatoes – crushed, stewed, diced

Flour – all purpose, bread, self-rising

Sugar – granulated, confectioners (powdered), Swerve / Stevia versions

 

So there you have it! Your quick guide for how to start meal planning, but also as promised, here are some yummy recipes to get you motivated!

 

Breakfast Meal Planning Recipes

Meal prep breakfast yogurt parfaits

Meal Prep Breakfast Parfaits

Overnight oats

Eggs, bacon, and toast cups

Breakfast casserole

Bacon, Egg, Cheese and Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole
Bacon, Egg, Cheese and Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole

Lunch Meal Planning Recipes

Classic Sandwiches

Wraps – these are so versatile!

Copycat Chili’s Mango Chili Chicken
Copycat Chili's Mango Chili Chicken

California Turkey Club Wrap

Dinner Meal Planning Recipes

Slow cooker, Instant Pot, and Air Fryer meals (these three kitchen appliances are God-send, especially come Summer when they last thing you want to do is turn on your oven). If you are looking for some good ones, check these out:

Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S-A 6-Quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker with Digital Timer, Stainless Steel, $44.99 (reg. $59.99)

digital crock-pot crockpot slowcooker

Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Sterilizer, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Saute, Yogurt Maker, and Warmer, 6 Quart, Easy-Seal Lid, 14 One-Touch Programs, $69.99 (reg. $99.99)

Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Sterilizer, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Saute, Yogurt Maker, and Warmer, 6 Quart, Easy-Seal Lid, 14 One-Touch Programs

Ninja Max XL Air Fryer that Cooks, Crisps, Roasts, Broils, Bakes, Reheats and Dehydrates, with 5.5 Quart Capacity, $129.99 

Ninja Max XL Air Fryer that Cooks, Crisps, Roasts, Broils, Bakes, Reheats and Dehydrates, with 5.5 Quart Capacity

Or – you could just buy this All-In-One slow cooker, pressure cooker, AND air fryer 😍 for $129

Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Pressure, Slow Cooker, Air Fryer and More, 5-Quart, Black:Gray

Ooops, sorry, I got off track. Here’s a yummy dinner recipe:

Instant Pot Pot Roast And Potatoes

 

So there you have it folks – how to start meal planning, ideas for kitchen tools, and some yummy starter recipes. Cheers to your new meal planning endeavors!