How to Write a Weekly Meal Plan

by Josée

Writing a weekly meal plan, especially if you’ve never done it before, can seem like a daunting task. Yes, it does take time to write one but the time spent is well worth the time and money you will save each week. If you know what you’ll be cooking every day and you have the ingredients to do so you’ll notice a significant reduction of those “what should I cook?” moments as you stare vacantly into the fridge. Below are some tips for writing meal plans that are healthy and that keep costs to a reasonable amount.

This cute baby is finally feeding himself.

Have a food budget. Start by considering how much you want to spend on food each week. With three little children (5, 2.5 and 10 months) we spend an average of $100/week on grocery. This doesn’t include the cost of meat, which we purchase once a year, or the cost of produce that I preserve throughout the year.

Look in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Write down any food items that need to be consumed. We often waste food because we forget about it or don’t store it properly. Love Food Hate Waste has some tips on how to store food, cook proper portions and use up leftovers.

How did that end up on your sleeve?

Consider healthy foods. Healthful eating means different things to different people. Having a meal plan can help you be purposeful about eating wholesome foods. Our family eats real foods which includes things like organic grass-fed beef, a variety of organic seasonal vegetables and fruits, legumes, rice, sourdough bread, eggs, butter, and coconut oil.

Get inspired. I find it helpful to use a variety of sources for meal inspirations. Check out some cookbooks from the library. And of course there is the internet, there are so many awesome food sites online. Here are some of my go to sites: Food Blog Search, Epicurious, Food Network CanadaFood Renegade and Simply Recipes. If you have favourite food sites I would love to hear about them… hint hint… nudge nudge..

Remember the season. If you want to eat food that tastes good eat seasonally. Don’t eat fresh tomatoes and strawberries in January. Seasonal food is often less expensive too. Win-win!

Check the flyers. It helps to know what is being discounted at the grocery store before you arrive. If you don’t receive flyers many grocery stores have a online flyer that can be accessed. That being said don’t buy junk simply because it’s on sale.

Write down the days of the week, or use a templateMake note of your slow days and busy days. It isn’t wise to make a complicated meal on a day that will be very busy.

Deer sausage – yum!

Assign meals to each day. Keep in mind the tips mentioned about. It also helps to keep a list or binder of your favourite recipes.

Plan to use supper leftovers for lunches. If there is extra food from supper the night before eat it for lunch. Use extra potato wedges to make Irish nachos for lunch or leftover veggies to make a soup.

Make a list of any ingredients that need to be purchased. Always check your pantry before adding items to your list so that you don’t end up purchasing something you already have. I also have a “need to buy” list that I add to throughout the week as we run out of items.

The more often you make a weekly menu the easier it becomes. Feel free to share any other tips for making a weekly meal plan.

This post is linked-up to the Barn Hop.

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Matthew Cowper January 8, 2013 - 9:57 am

More things I wish I had the discipline for… sigh.

Two things I might add- do not be afraid of simplicity! Often the simple things are faster, cheaper and healthier anyways; but more importantly, we need the simple (perhaps even spare) and hearty to allow for the contrast with feasts and celebrations. This was one of the things I most appreciated when I stayed at Madonna House- the simplicity of the weekday fare gave real expression to the rejoicing of Sundays and feast days.

Secondly, I think we don't need perpetual novelty. Discover what you (and your family) enjoy and repeat, even weekly. Another community I lived in had a largely set menu, with almost all meals repeated each week.

Btw, I know potato pancakes as latkes (lat'-kis). I think peeling and grating potatoes for latkes was the first real help I can remember in making meals. Do you ever eat them with apple sauce and cinnamon?

Kim Corrigan-Oliver January 8, 2013 - 11:32 am

Love your tips, thanks for sharing!

Josée January 8, 2013 - 4:29 pm

Thanks for sharing such a great tip Matthew! You're right simple meals can be less expensive, healthier and make those special feast all the more wonderful.

We eat our potato pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream. I haven't tried cinnamon with them before but it sounds delicious.

crunchymama January 8, 2013 - 8:23 pm

Thanks for sharing the tips! I often "forget" to eat seasonal/ or do not plan meals that include mostly seasonal foods. I am hoping to learn how to can more veggies from our garden next year to remediate this problem and have healthier food on the table. I agree that simple foods are just as good! Wasting less food is one of my intentions for 2013, let's see how I can make this happen!

Matthew Cowper January 9, 2013 - 1:20 am

Do try adding cinnamon- some in my family eat latkes with apple sauce, sour cream and cinnamon, so it needn't be at the expense of the sour cream. I'm not particularly fond of sour cream, so it's just apple sauce and cinnamon for me.

Elisa January 9, 2013 - 5:22 pm

Great tips! I love all these ideas.

localkitchener April 10, 2013 - 12:13 pm

Hi Josée,
I arrived here via your beetroot sourdough (oh man, I was so excited to see that, I just brewed a beet beer and have been eating beets like 3-5 times per week since moving to Ontario from Atlanta in January….) but anyway, these are great meal-planning tips. I only just started going through your site but I love it and will continue to read it, thanks!

Josée April 10, 2013 - 11:03 pm

Beet beer! Now that sounds exciting. Wow, you've just had a big move. I hope you're settling in to living in Ontario. Have you heard of They're based in Ontario and you like their site. Thanks for stopping by 🙂


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