Maple Alps


Meal Planning in a Few Easy Steps

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps24 Comments

A few weeks ago, I posted about why I meal plan and today, I'm going to be sharing how I go about meal planning. I know I said I would post this earlier, but it has been a crazy couple of days. Since it's the beginning of the month, I thought I should get to it. 

The process of meal planning itself is a pretty easy one. I plan for the entire month. It used to take up to two hours, but now that I'm better at it, it goes by much quicker - usually no longer than an hour.

How to Meal Plan in a Few Easy Steps |

1) Check the Fridge, Freezer & Cupboards

I do this first because I can then determine what needs to be and can be used. I also do not wish to buy duplicates unnecessarily, so this step usually eliminates that. I also check on my staples to see if they need refilling. 


2) Gather My Recipes

This is my favourite part! I love going through the recipes I love and the ones I haven't tried. In addition to checking my repertoire, I open my Pinterest boards and my Pocket feed to see what recipes have interested me, and what I might be determined enough to knock off the "try list." Note: Our breakfasts are usually pretty standard because of work schedules, so we usually have fruit and whole grain cereal or bread. I don't bother planning for that because they're staples for us. A couple of times a month, we will have a free morning in which we can be a bit more adventurous though! 


3) Get Out the Calendar

I print out a blank monthly calendar to place my meals on. Eventually I want to make and use a reusable one. First, I block off the days where I don't need to worry about preparing food (days we're out of town or eating out, etc.). Next I schedule any grocery shopping trips (usually two). This helps me determine what ingredients I need to last longer. By the way, we personally only eat twice a day (one large breakfast, and an early supper/late lunch). If we are dying of hunger, we'll have a light snack later on.


4) Group Together Meals

I don't necessarily group meals that have overlapping ingredients if I don't plan on making enough to have leftovers. Sometimes we do though, and a lot of ingredients are versatile anyway. Making sure each meal for the day adds up to the recommended amounts of nutrients (more on that in the future!), I start putting them on the calendar. 


5) Make a Shopping List

Being sure I double check the things I already have, I make a list! It's easy. I write down every thing I'll need for each meal I'm preparing and take a poll, so to say. This way, I can be sure I'm getting enough of a certain ingredient. Note: I usually make two shopping lists. One for each shopping trip I need to take. This also helps me make sure that produce will last long enough, etc. Plus, I don't have to take extra time later on to make a completely new list. I can add to it if I run out of a staple or two during the week. 

Note: I group my list into sections according to what store I will be visiting. This way, I'm not jumping between sections and wasting time. 


6) Execute!

The one thing I really like about this system is that it's flexible. If I decide I don't want a certain meal one day, or if something comes up where we don't need to cook after all, it's easy to change it up and move it. It's basically just for my sanity. 


Meal Planning Opt In.pngConfessions of a Meal Planner |

What do you think? Easy enough to try yourself?
Do you use another method? Comment below- I'd love to hear about it. I'm off to meal plan for this month now - a few days late... I'm a little behind in life these days :)


Confessions of a Meal Planner

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps36 Comments

I had attempted meal planning several times over the years, but it never stuck. It takes time and effort - two things I didn't always have. Since I work full-time now, I need to be very intentional to make good decisions. Meal planning is one of those good decisions. 

I've been meal planning three years now, and though I've yet to really perfect it, I would say I'm getting there. There is such a satisfaction I find in it that I've never known before! This may come across quite strong for a topic such as meal planning, but I don't know how else to express myself right now!

Meal planning helps me with so many things. I'll let you see for yourself: 

Updated June 2019

Confessions of a Meal Planner |

Saves Time

I aim to make as few trips to the grocery store as possible. Once a week max! Having a list that keeps me on track not only reduces the time I spend in the store, but the number of extra trips to go because of forgotten items. It’s all in the plan. 


Saves Money

Because I'm making less trips a month to the store, I'm spending less! How? Well besides gas money, if I go to the store to pick up one thing, my eye might catch something else that I end up buying. My quick stop ends up costing much more than intended, and that adds up over time. In the same way, if I forget something, I'm more likely to have to pay a visit to a convenience store where prices are much higher. This is also why I bring a shopping list with me, and why I leave my husband at home :) 


It Helps Me Be Decisive

This has to do with time, but I decided to make it an extra heading. I am extremely indecisive. You would not believe how long I could stand in the kitchen staring at nothing to decide what I should make for dinner. I am the most indecisive person I know! If I didn't meal plan, by the time I would decide on what I want to make, I would already be starving, too lazy to cook, and prone to have trail mix for dinner - or nothing at all. Which would be the best case!


Related: How I Meal Plan


I Feel More Prepared & At Ease

As much as I love cooking, I do not feel like doing it every day of the week. I am a busy teacher and the last thing I want to do after a long day at school is to be in the kitchen the whole evening. I like to prepare freezer meals that can be put into the crock pot or in the oven on days I know I will be busy or unmotivated (or not even home for dinner!). I include these in my meals plans! They are also great in a pinch when life throws the occasional curve ball. Because it’s life. Of course curve balls will be thrown!


I Can Make Better Food Choices

I will admit that I'm not always the most motivated person. If I didn't meal plan, it would be easier to just grab high caloric foods to satisfy my hunger, as opposed to choosing foods that also satisfy my nutritional needs. Meal planning allows me to be intentional about what I feed myself and others, making sure what I eat will benefit my body and life!


Grab my free meal planning guide if you want help starting out with a food plan. In it, I include my basic shopping staples list (which is pretty and functional) and even a sample meal plan.

Meal Planning Guide |

So there you have it: a few reasons I choose to meal plan.
What about you? Do you meal plan? Would you like to start?

In this post here, I talk a bit more about meal planning and my process. 

Meal Planning