Meal Planning 101 Part 2: The How

by June Fuentes on September 25, 2017 in Food, Homemaking

Today we have a special post by our sweet contributor Rebekah:


Last month we looked at the “why” of meal planning, and I shared with you six different ways in which meal planning can prove beneficial. Today we’re diving into the “how” and seeing exactly what the process of meal planning actually looks like.

So, how do we meal plan? Well, first of all let me say that the answer to this question is where many ladies get hung up, mistakenly starting to believe that they hate meal planning or else are just not cut out for it. This is because we oftentimes buy into the wrong idea that the way we meal plan (or do anything else in life!) has to look just like the lady we follow on Pinterest or exactly the way our mom or sister meal plans, or just how our best friend does it, etc. This simply is not the case, however! We need to first let go of this mistaken idea if we are going to be successful at meal planning. Our personalities as well as our family dynamics are all different, so our meal planning methods will have to reflect that.

With all that said, let’s now dive into the nitty-gritty of meal planning and look at three different methods you can try out to see what works best for you!


The Meal-Rotation Method

For some women, the problem they find with meal planning is that they feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to come up with several meal ideas days or even weeks in advance. Additionally, the thought of finding and trying all-new recipes feels too daunting for them in this season of life. This is where the meal-rotation method comes in! For this method of meal planning, you are going to make a list of as many of your family’s favorite meals and recipes as you can possibly think of – 4 to 6 weeks’ worth being optimal here. After you have made that master list (I know it takes time to do this, but you’re only doing it once and it will save you a ton of time from here on!), you now know exactly what you are going to choose from when it comes to making your menu in the weeks ahead. No longer do you have to scour over a pile of cookbooks or a hundred Pinterest boards. You have meals you know your family loves that you can quickly and easily incorporate into your meal plan.


The Themed-Dinner Method

Many ladies enjoy taking the guess-work out of meal planning by implementing the themed-dinner method. They might have something like “Meatless Mondays”, “Taco Tuesdays”, “Fishy Fridays”, and “Soupy Saturdays”, or else assign a particular type of food to each night – “ItalianMonday“, “Mexican Wednesday“, and so on. They may still need to decide what exactly they are having on those particular days, but they already have a general idea.


The Time-Frame Method

This is the method I use. For some (like my mom), this looks like planning out meals two weeks in advance, making a menu comprised of a mixture of new recipes you want to try, old favorites, etc. For others, (such as myself), this looks like planning out meals one week in advance. This is because my husband and I eat one kind of salad or another for lunch everyday, and I therefore buy a lot of fresh produce that would go bad in two-weeks time. This is precisely why I say you need to meal plan in the way that works best for you and your family. There is no one-size-fits-all method to meal planning. The point is not exactly how you meal plan, but that you are seeking to save your family money (and yourself some stress!) through the art of meal planning.


Tips to Keep in Mind as you Meal Plan


  • Shop your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.

When you are coming up with your meal plan, don’t fall into the temptation of only ever jotting down those recipes which strike your fancy. Try adding those recipes into your meal plan which call for ingredients you already have. You will be saving a lot of money, cutting down on food waste, and making more space in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, as well.


  • Shop the grocery store sales ads.

This is the second thing you should keep in mind before you come up with your full meal plan. What are the grocery stores in your area showing is on sale this week? Plan the meats, produce, grains, etc. you will use this week around what is on sale.


  • Shop the current season’s specials.

Just this week my husband and I saw the importance of this when we watched the price of avocados suddenly skyrocket. We had been in the habit of buying avocados each week to go on the salads we have for lunch. During the summer, they had been around 69 cents each. This week, they suddenly jumped up to early $2 each! Clearly then, we are starting to transition out of avocado season and will not be purchasing avocados as regularly as we have been. The same goes for various types of fruit. Some fruits, such as blueberries, are cheaper in the summer while others, such as apples, are cheaper in the fall. Take note of these price changes and plan accordingly.


  • Shop the same basic staples over and over.

This really cuts down on the amount of work you have to put into meal planning! We have the same basic breakfast everyday (some type of eggs, sometimes with bacon or toast on the side), as well as the same basic lunch (salad, typically taco salad). Our dinners are always varying, but taking the guess work out of breakfasts and lunches really makes meal planning a lot easier!


  • Shop for snacks!

Don’t forget to factor into your meal plan and grocery list the need you will have for snacks! You (or someone in your family!) is bound to feel snacky at some point during the day, so it’s good to plan for this and enable yourself to have healthy choices on hand and ready for your family – things like apples and peanut butter, cheese and crackers, hummus and veggies, granola and yogurt, whatever your family likes!


You Can Do It!

I hope I have taken a bit of the guess-work and stress out of meal planning for you today! You really can do it! Glean the tips you can from this article, advice from your friend, sister, or mom, wisdom from another blogger, etc., but then make it your own to best suit your own needs and family dynamics. Again, the important thing is not that you meal plan the way someone else does. The important thing is that you do what you can to save your family money, reduce food waste, and provide your family with healthy nourishment as best you can!



Website – Hargraves Home and Hearth

Facebook – Hargraves Home and Hearth

Instagram – @rebekahhargraves

Twitter – @hhomeandhearth 

June Fuentes

June Fuentes is the happy wife to Steve and blessed homeschooling mother to eight beautiful children that they are raising for the Lord. She has a heart to see mothers all around the world grasp the vision of biblical motherhood and to see this noble role restored in the 21st century to the glory of God. June strongly believes that weak homes equate a weak nation and therefore blogs at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home to minister to Christian women on how to build up strong Christian homes. She is also the owner of Raising Homemakers, and is the author of the encouraging eBooks, True Christian Motherhood and How to Build a Strong Christian Home. She is the founder of Wise Woman Consulting, her service to teach women how to successfully make money blogging at home and a consultant for Lilla Rose, where you can find unique and beautiful hair products. She would love for you to join her on the journey to biblical womanhood on Facebook and Twitter at @wisewomanbuilds.

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