Menu and Meal Planning Recipes

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:

  1. Write down recipes you love, and ones you’d love to try (search Pinterest and online)
  2. 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)
  3. Go shopping for all the recipe ingredients (the fun part, right?)
  4. Make sure you also have the kitchen tools for the recipes you need, such as food storage
  5. 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:

  • 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

  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Overnight oats
  • Eggs, bacon, toast
  • Breakfast casseroles

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

Lunch Meal Planning Recipes

  • Sandwiches – ham, turkey, roast beef, pb&j (or pb&honey – yum!) and chips
  • Leftover dinner from the night before
  • Wraps – I love a good sammie wrap!

California Turkey Club Wrap

Dinner Meal Planning Recipes

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

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!

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