My Meal-Planning “Strategy” + A Week of Meal Ideas

A few weeks back, I discussed how meal planning finally clicked for us. I had a couple questions and requests to dive a little deeper into this subject. So, here we are! In this post, I’m walking you through my meal-planning strategy – the simple steps I take to prepare a week of meals and use to make sure we’re making balanced choices. Plus, a sample week of meal ideas!

My Meal Planning-Strategy + a Week of Meal Ideas
 
If you haven’t read my other post on meal planning, I highly recommend that you do! But, if you just want a basic gist: what changed the meal planning-game for us was figuring out what day of the week worked best to plan around and grocery shop. For us, that’s Wednesdays, and that’s what you’ll see as the starting point in the sample weekly menu to follow.

Ryan’s schedule changes biweekly so that affects our meal planning in terms of what meals we’re eating together, solo, going out, etc. For this post I’m doing an example week of when Ryan is scheduled to work the weekend.

My meal-planning “strategy” & a sample week of meal ideas

To start, I write out the days (Wednesday to Tuesday) and fill in what I already know and/or have planned out.

+ Weds. – Pizza
+ Thurs. –
+ Fri. – Solo/leftovers
+ Sat. – Date night out
+ Sun. –
+ Mon. –
+ Tues. – Solo/leftovers

Wednesdays always are pizza night in our house – why not celebrate making it halfway through the week, right?! So that’s easy to fill in. As are the nights that Ryan will be at work so we’re eating on our own, and our biweekly Saturday night-date night out! This is a standing tradition every other week on Ryan’s work weekends to give us something to look forward to.

Now, I just fill in the blanks! I can see that I have three days that week that I need to plan meals for. And, to make it even easier I try to plan a meal each that falls under meat, fish and pasta. While I wouldn’t say that we’re exactly “health conscious,” I do make an effort to make healthy decisions for us and cook accordingly! I would eat pasta for every single meal if there would be zero consequences, so breaking down meals into specific categories helps keep me in check that we’re not having too much/too little of one thing.

Here’s what the rest of that week would look like based on the above strategy:

+ Weds. – Pizza
+ Thurs. – Slow Cooker Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches (recipe; cook chicken on high for 3.5 hours instead!)
+ Fri. – Solo/leftovers
+ Sat. – Date night out
+ Sun. – Baked Mostaccioli (recipe; I usually swap ground beef for Italian sausage)
+ Mon. – Shrimp en Papillote (recipe)
+ Tues. – Solo/leftovers

That’s my meal-planning “strategy” and what a typical week of meals look like for us! See how easy it is? It’s less overwhelming and more manageable to break down the days of the week (whatever day your “meal planning-week” starts on), fill in what you know, and then fill in the blanks. Seeing I only need to plan three days of meals opposed to seven does a lot for my mental health! 😉

Where I find recipes

If you’re looking for recipe ideas, read up on the cookbooks I always reach for and my favorite recipes from each. I also pull a ton of recipes from Kraft’s Food and Family – all the recipes are relatively easy, family-friendly (if needed) and most importantly, delicious! I’ve yet to make a bad meal from their recipes. Most make great leftovers, too!

Hopefully this is helpful to you if you’re also trying to jump on the meal-planning train!

What other tips do you have for meal planning?

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  1. Liza wrote:

    Meal planning can be tough when you have one person with a rotating schedule and one that doesn’t change! What work does Ryan do that keeps is schedule changing? Does he take care of his own meals, or do you still cook for 2 and he takes food with him?

    Posted 9.25.19 Reply
    • Karly wrote:

      I typically cook for two, and then we both have leftovers for a couple meals.

      Posted 9.28.19 Reply
  2. cara wrote:

    Love your strategy! That’s pretty much how I plan it to, but there are times I need to be better about planning and not so much winging it lol. Do you ever use yummly for finding recipes? It’s good for searching out the best rated dishes of a specific category.

    Posted 9.24.19 Reply
    • Karly wrote:

      I’ve never heard of Yummly, so thank you! I’ll definitely be checking that out. 🙂

      Posted 9.24.19 Reply
  3. Mica wrote:

    This is a great plan, it’s good it works for you! I usually end up planning food for the week as we walk around the supermarket, depending on what’s on sale / special, haha! I need to get more intentional and plan in advance!

    Hope that you had a lovely weekend!

    Posted 9.23.19 Reply
    • Karly wrote:

      I know that feeling! We’re definitely not perfect and have those weeks, too. Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted 9.24.19 Reply
  4. Brittany wrote:

    I could NOT survive without meal planning! It’s such an important weekly ritual. I love how you break it down into categories – that’s always where I get stuck! Thanks for sharing your process!

    Brittany | http://www.pointed-north.com

    Posted 9.23.19 Reply
    • Karly wrote:

      I’m so glad that we finally figured out what works for us in this department – meals are a struggle enough for just one/two people, so at least it’s now a little easier knowing what I’m going to make ahead of time!

      Posted 9.24.19 Reply
  5. Debbie wrote:

    This is a great strategy and I definitely need some help in this area!

    Posted 9.23.19 Reply
    • Karly wrote:

      It’s hard only having a couple people to cook for!

      Posted 9.24.19 Reply
  6. Biana wrote:

    We meal plan on Saturdays or Sunday’s but the same strategy! I am going to make those buffalo chicken sandwiches – YUM! xo, Biana –BlovedBoston

    Posted 9.23.19 Reply
    • Karly wrote:

      Such an easy and delicious meal, plus great leftovers! Enjoy!

      Posted 9.24.19 Reply

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