Is Meal Planning Worth It and How Do You Start?

I have been meal planning since I was in college. Honestly I don’t know if I could cook with out some sort of meal plan and I certainly couldn’t grocery shop without it. 

For me meal planning isn’t about being rigid and sticking to a dinner menu, but rather it is a guide so that each night I’m not trying to figure it out. I have enough decision fatigue as it is I do not need add this to my daily list of decisions to make.

Back in college I would meal plan weekly and it would take me about 1 to 2 hours every Sunday because it was simply a chore I dreaded I was constantly trying to come up with the new fabulous recipes.

About three years ago I realized that I was making it way too complicated. My family has 10 to 15 recipes/meals that we all consistently love which is more than enough for us to create a monthly meal plan. Plus a few extra seasonal recipes that only work in the winter or summer and the occasional social media recipe that I want to try.

Now I meal plan monthly and I use the app Plan to Eat. I don’t do this because I’m hyper organized, rather I do it this way so that it is a one and done. It still takes me about an hour, but that’s only one hour a month instead of for to eight hours a month. 

Let’s break it down to the nitty-gritty. 

Step by Step How to Meal Plan

Create some sort calendar

Use whatever calendar system you like best. I personally love Plan to Eat

  • it is digital and I can use it on my phone, Desktop, or tablet
  • easy-to-use
  • upload recipes from the Internet
  • rank the recipes one to 5 stars
  • It will create a shopping list for you
  • You can share your recipes with other people who have the app

If you prefer a paper calendar, Marla from Because I Said So Baby has a great one in her Stay at Home Mom Course (affiliate link) as well as a full module on meal planning and kid friendly recipe ideas.

Create a recipe bank

meal planning recipe bank
  • Collect the recipes that you have save on Pinterest, Instagram, or Tik Tok
  • Collect/ make a list of your favorite family dinners that are already a quick win in your house
    • This doesn’t have to be a huge list, start with 10-15 meals. As you organically find recipes that you want to try add them to your list but don’t stress about needing a big list
  • I upload all of my Pinterest recipes to my Plan to Eat profile.
  • For meals I don’t necessarily need a recipe (like spaghetti) I will still find a recipe on Pinterest to upload to Plan To Eat app so that when I go to create my shopping list it will generate all of the ingredients I need. You can also create your own recipe on the app but I think that is more time-consuming then copy and pasting somebody else’s link.

Start Planning 

  • Grab your calendar and write down any events you need to plan around. 
  • If you have baseball on Wednesdays from 5-6 pm plan a crockpot dinner or if you are going out for a birthday put dinner out on the calendar.
  • If you are like us and do pizza every Friday quickly fill up all your Fridays. 
  • Once you have accounted for all of the special events of the month, start filling in the rest of the month with ideas from your recipe bank.

The Benefits

While I am not rigid with my meal plan, I need it as a guide. We have plenty of nights where we move dinners around because I forgot to take the meat out or we decided we wanted to go out to dinner.

Here’s why I meal plan

  • Saves me from the what’s for dinner game
  • Saves me time and money at the grocery store

You have to try more of our family’s favorite desserts and dinners. These are recipes from my childhood that I loved and now make for Eric and my kids and we are all full, fed, and happy.


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by emily lawson