meal planning 101: how I meal plan

I have been meal planning for years now; basically, since I graduated college. It has definitely evolved since then but I am always surprised by how many people still don't meal plan. I began to write only one post on this subject but then I realized I had so much to share. This is the second of two posts!

There are many ways you could meal plan. Today, I thought I would share with you how I do it and what works for me. Feel free to use what methods fit your lifestyle and change what doesn't. 

For me, meal planning actually begins the week before. I have a meal planning calendar saved to my computer and I keep it open while I am working; adding to it as I come up with meal ideas. Since I usually drink Shakeology for breakfast and eat leftovers for lunch, I focus on dinners first. 

This is a picture I took (for an accountability group I was in) of my very first 21 Day Fix meal plan. I color-coded it to coordinate with the portion control containers. Since creating this meal plan a few months ago, I have learned to keep things a bit simpler - utilize leftovers and don't plan too many complicated recipes.

I tend to keep my most complicated meal for Sunday night since I have more time on non-work days. I find inspiration for  that meal from cookbooks, pinterest, and blogs.  For the rest of the week, I keep it simple with a protein, veggies, and a carb. Healthy eating doesn't have to be complicated! 

On Thursday, I complete my meal plan and create my grocery list. After work, I go grocery shopping before I pick up Olivia from daycare. It moves a little quicker that way!  This is when I tend to pick up most of my vegetables, eggs, and a few pantry items. 

On Saturday morning, I do a Sam's Club run, if necessary. This is when I pick up a lot of our meat since we freeze most of it to save money. We also pick up some pantry items that are less expensive to buy in bulk like nuts and olive oil. I may also grab some vegetables that we eat a lot of during the week like spinach and avocados. 

On Sunday, I meal prep. I wash and cut up fruits for snacks for the week. I also make a big batch of bone broth in my pressure cooker. Then, I chop veggies that I will use in meals over the next two or three days. If I have time, I make any sauces or salad dressings that will be needed. That evening, my more complicated meal usually goes quickly because of all the prep earlier in the day. 

On Wednesday, I will do a bit more chopping for that night and Thursday but those meals tend to be the least complicated since I am less motivated to cook later in the week. 

It really isn't that complicated! You just need to find a method that works for you and stick with it!

How do you plan your meals for the week?