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Meal planning!

AimeesdietAimeesdiet Member, Premium Posts: 9 Member Member, Premium Posts: 9 Member
Okay so I've never meal planned before, I'm a very disorganised person and I'm quite indecisive. I seen a lovely meal planner book in Sostrene grene (the shop) and I'm thinking I should maybe give it a go! It might help with the indecision but I'm sooo scared of it restricting me. How has everyone else experienced meal planning?


  • creesamacreesama Member Posts: 75 Member Member Posts: 75 Member
    Meal Prep saves me during the work week. I do it for lunches, that way I can grab it and go which saves time and I'm not tempted to grab something high calorie or fast food. I have a rough plan for dinners each week, a few recipes that I've shopped for that I can choose from. Breakfasts I have a couple reliable go-tos. And snacks are pretty consistent after finding ones that work for me. The last few weeks I've actually made some low-cal treats that last the week and are something I look forward to. Something else I do is fill in my meals the night before, that way I can map out my calories and then adjust as the day goes. These are all things that have helped me be successful so far, 51 days in, 24lbs down. And for the first time I feel like I'm not restricting myself, just being responsible. Hope you find what works for you!
  • scarlett_kscarlett_k Member Posts: 567 Member Member Posts: 567 Member
    I just use a regular lined note book. I pick recipes for the week (or two weeks since covid) and note the page numbers down (I use recipe books almost exclusively) and write an accompanying shopping list of the stuff I don't have. I don't plan which day I cook which thing as that's too prescriptive for me and I want some flexibility.
  • helizihelizi Member Posts: 29 Member Member Posts: 29 Member
    I've meal-planned for years, though originally it was more for budget reasons than health. I take a browse through the fridge, freezer and cupboards, note what we're low on, see what needs used up in the next few days and start to structure meals around that. When planning a meal, consider all the ingredients and what else they can be used for to make a cohesive plan without too much waste. Also don't forget to account for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

    It never felt restrictive, any more than planning out a holiday day-by-day feels restrictive. Some days I don't feel like eating what's on the plan and that's fine.

    (If you're asking how physically to do it, I use the computer. Then it's easy to quickly look up a recipe to double-check the ingredients. At the end the plan gets distilled into a shopping list.)
  • Priasmama416Priasmama416 Member Posts: 60 Member Member Posts: 60 Member
    I do meal planning. I've tried it both weekly and monthly, and it seems to be good both ways, depending on personal preference. For the monthly plan I do family dinners, I find it easier and cheaper to buy things in bulk and separate and prep them for the freezer. Weekly planning is mostly for my husband's work , and kids school lunches. This is budget friendly by planning with what's on sale that week like produce, deli meat ect.....
  • jacqQ2017jacqQ2017 Member Posts: 172 Member Member Posts: 172 Member
    I meal plan. I do 7 days at a time, then I order the food we need to make those meals. I don't plan lunch, since there's a lot of left overs and it's nice to have some choice so I make sure there are some options. Breakfast is more or less the same every day. This means I only buy what we need, and buying/ordering online means I'm not wandering around a store with lots of nice yummy food on offer that I absolutely don't need! I don't usually stick to the meal that I've planned for that day. Sometimes it doesn't fit with leftovers, evening plans or what we fancy. It's just a list of 7 meals that I know i have the ingredients for :)
  • Oneka5Oneka5 Member Posts: 49 Member Member Posts: 49 Member
    I have to meal plan because I don't keep a lot of just extra food in my house so if I don't have a meal to eat then I will just eat out. I'm trying to save money so I try to just eat out once a week. I plan my lunch and dinner weekly, making a big batch for both meals and eating that Sunday - Thursday. Breakfast I switch up between some kind of breakfast scramble and oatmeal. Friday I have breakfast and then I eat out which is usually a big meal. Saturday I go shopping again. Meal planning has been helping me so much with losing weight. And it saves time during the week. I couldn't imagine cooking every day.
  • deeshilohdeeshiloh Member Posts: 24 Member Member Posts: 24 Member
    I've meal planned off and on for several years. What I find best is to just pencil things onto a calendar - either get a weekly pad or put some space in your regular planner for meals, or I've even done it digitally using google calendar - I made a calendar for meal planning and would add all-day events labelled with which meal and food. That way also offers the flexibility of being able to copy meals over to other days for leftovers, or to drag and drop them if your plans change.

    What I find helps most with meal planning is having a list somewhere of the kinds of meals you like and know how to make (I actually have two lists, one for regular meals and one for meals that are easy for when I'm too tired to actually spend effort cooking or know I'll be having a busy day), so that when you're deciding what to eat, you have a handy list to reference of ideas for meals.

    Another option is just to input your planned meals straight into MFP in the notes field - go a few days ahead and just note down in that box what you plan to eat.
  • MelanieCN77MelanieCN77 Member Posts: 4,037 Member Member Posts: 4,037 Member
    A tab for what's on hand so you can look at it all in one place and see what you can make, and another for days of the week and their planned meals. I also have a tab I call "cheat sheet" which is ratios and cook times that for whatever reasons I just can't keep in my head so I have a quick place to look up how to cook up some farro real quick or what the water:rice ratio is in my steamer without googling or pulling out a manual.
    As you get through what's already in your pantry you'll be able to plan and then shop for meals more pointedly. I like knowing what I'm going to make before I get hungry, wandering the kitchen with low brain power, it helps my choices an awful lot. There is also far less waste than just getting whatever appeals at the shops any given day and hoping inspiration strikes. Plan, and never shop hungry :)
  • HeidiCooksSupperHeidiCooksSupper Member, Premium Posts: 3,653 Member Member, Premium Posts: 3,653 Member
    I tried meal planning over the years and never could really stick to it. If I had baked chicken on the plan for Wednesday, I'd get to Wednesday and want anything but baked Chicken. This often led to making less healthy choices. "Oh, heck, I really don't want that chicken so I guess I might as well pick up a double cheese burger, large fries and shake on the way home." Therein lies disaster.

    What worked better for me is to have multiple alternatives available in the freezer. I'd cook up a bunch of chicken, a pork butt, a batch of meatballs, etc. and make sure the freezer was well stocked with meal-sized portions of those and frozen veg. That way, I would go home and be able to decide among the healthy alternatives. Some things like ground meat, fish fillets, etc., I would keep raw in the freezer for making burgers, chicken, and fish meals but for those I had to at least plan ahead to thaw.

    Bulk cooking even works for some veggies. Beets, for instance, can be roasted in foil before peeling. They'll sit that way in the fridge for several days. Take them out of the foil, slough off the skin, and serve them hot or cold, plain, Harvard or pickled. Roast a whole butternut squash (with holes poked in it to prevent explosion) and then scoop out the flesh for the fridge or freezer.

    I also got pretty good at "sheet pan dinners" which are easy ways to make a healthy meal. Throw everything on a foil lined sheet pan and throw it in the oven; there are gazillions of these online for inspiration.

    Having ample stock of seasonings and sauces helps. That way, you can take the cooked pork or chicken or whatever and decide how you want it to be. Italian? Chinese? Barbecued? Just add sauce.
  • LietchiLietchi Member Posts: 1,024 Member Member Posts: 1,024 Member
    Generally speaking I don't meal plan, I just make sure to have a stock of frequently eaten foods in the house:
    - Breakfast is pretty repetitive, but the specifics can vary depending on what's available in the store and what I feel like on the day (yoghurt with different types of fruit).
    - Bread meals vary depending on the toppings we have on offer, what I feel like on the day and how many calories I have available.
    - Snacks vary wildly depending on my mood, available calories,...

    The only exception is hot dinners: these need to be planned in order to write our shopping list (once every 5 days or so). We determine who's cooking when (and whether or not there need to be leftovers) and the person cooking decides what's on the menu. I will then adapt my portion depending on how calorie-dense the dish is.
    We follow this plan 95% of the time, but sometimes unexpected circumstances happen (home too late to prepare food, unexpected leftovers from the previous dinner,...) or we don't feel in the mood for whatever is on the menu: it's simply postponed till the next day.

    I don't think I'd do very well with strict meal planning, and I don't believe it's a necessity for successful weight loss generally speaking. But it might help specific people depending on their personality and their personal dificulties in losing weight.
  • ShortgirlrunningShortgirlrunning Member Posts: 992 Member Member Posts: 992 Member
    I meal plan my dinners for the week but for breakfast and lunch I just make sure to have some basic staples on hand and have whatever I feel like that day.

    For dinners I just pick seven meals to make for the week. Sometimes I’m not thrilled about what I have planned but I just make it anyway.
  • AwesomeSquirrelAwesomeSquirrel Member Posts: 394 Member Member Posts: 394 Member
    I’ve meal planned for years, as a single household it reduces waste, cost and time spent cooking. I can buy full size items at the store (less packaging, Better prices) and typically cook 2 meals on a Sunday and then 2 more during the week (slightly off-set, usually the evenings after each other). I have oatmeal for breakfast every day and lunch/dinner are meals which are interchangeable.

    Usually I start by having a look in the fridge to see what’s urgent and check my biweekly veg box to see what’s coming. Then I write those recipes down in the Notes app on my phone and in that same note I create my shopping list with items ordered/grouped per recipe. There is also a section in the list for staples that are getting low so I know to take advantage of offers for eg. Chopped tomatoes.

    I will also write recipes I’m craving further down in the app at any time so I don’t forget about them and can seize the opportunity when the appropriate discount arises 😊

    I love not expending decision making energy on what to eat multiple times per day, so meal planning works very well for me. I’ve almost never encountered a day where I’ve wanted to deviate. Once or twice I’ve left my packed lunch to join an outing but then I had that food the next day, or brought it home for dinner if I didn’t have anything else planned.
  • MikePfirrmanMikePfirrman Member Posts: 1,652 Member Member Posts: 1,652 Member
    I meal plan weekly. I also do all the cooking as well. I love to use Copymethat for new ideas all the time. It's a great Chrome extension/app to easily copy any recipe from the internet and store it in your own recipe files, along with all your own recipes.

    We try to eat one seafood, one or two chicken meals and the rest plant based. To further complicate, my wife is allergic to cow dairy and I'm celiac (I've had to reinvent all my recipes and cooking style over the years), but don't feel sorry for me, I'm a really good home chef, so eat really well. Actually have a hard time finding restaurants that make as good as food as what we eat at home. So my wife has become incredibly picky about restaurants now.

    My biggest issue/problem is my wife is a meat and potato girl at heart. Actual conversation that just happened. Wife -- "what's for dinner tonight?". Me -- "Cauliflower Buffalo Wings made in the air fryer". Wife -- "Ah, that's a hard hell no, maybe with some chicken wings on the side...". Me -- x5z68zdcnhh5.jpg
  • cleopold4cleopold4 Member Posts: 15 Member Member Posts: 15 Member
    Using MFP I plan my meal only on the day before. I have tried multiple days, but I always change.

    As an Italian, I don't buy 3 potatoes and 4 onions and 2 cans of tomatoes.. I buy a 10kilo bag of potatoes,5k onions, dozen cans tomatoes lol.

    My diet is working really well for 6 weeks now, and I probably only cycle a dozen meals.

    I keep most of my needs in the cupboard, and general replenishment weekly... if I'm shopping I'll buy ad-hoc. ie..Ahh Calamari.. Ill do something this week....

    As I scour the net for different meal ideas, I might plan that way. But 90% of meals are repetitive.

    Works well for me....

  • breanacasey2017breanacasey2017 Member Posts: 11 Member Member Posts: 11 Member
    On Saturdays, I cook for the next 6 days(Sun-Fri.). It's just my sister and I in the household and i cook all of our lunches. We both typically fix our own breakfast consisting of oatmeal, veggie sausage, and eggs.

    Saturday is the cheat day and my one rule is that we have to make the cheat meal ourselves. We used to go out, but the self control was basically non existent lol and I'm also trying to save money.

    To get creative, we made a cheat meal jar full of our favorite fast food or indulgent meals. Every week, we randomly pick a meal out of the jar to recreate on Saturdays.

  • whoami67whoami67 Member Posts: 206 Member Member Posts: 206 Member
    I do more the method HeidiCooks mentions. I have a lot of meal size portions of ingredients in the freezer that I can turn into the meals that sound good at the moment. And I have about 2 dozen favorite meals that I regularly rotate and can make on the spur of the moment.

    I make a lot of meals from Budgetbytes website (I think she even has some meal planning info) or from the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook. I have a well-stocked pantry, spice cupboard and freezer. When I do meal plan for the week, I've learned not to plan more than about 3 meals. It usually turns out there are leftovers to use up or I don't want to eat what I've planned.

    Anyway, if I have portions of cooked chicken and a wide variety of frozen veg, I can decide on the fly what I want. Am I in the mood for cajun chicken? I've got chicken, pasta, tomatoes and the spices that go in it. Do I want Asian stirfry? Pull out some chicken, frozen and fresh veg, spices and sauce. Thai curry? Again with the frozen prepped chicken, veg, canned coconut milk, curry powder or paste. Italian? Yep.

    Most of my meals seem to have similar ingredients, but they have different spices added to make them taste very different, so I just have to pre-plan/pre-prep the meat portion.
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