Don’t feel overwhelmed by the idea of making a weekly meal plan! Try these ten strategies for getting inspired and feeling comfortable planning your meals in ten minutes or less.
We KNOW we want a meal plan. Once that plan is in place, the rest of the week feels easy breezy. (And we know that NOT having a plan can lead to stress and scrambling at 5pm each night!)
But even though we’re well aware of the benefits of having a meal plan, let’s face it. Sometimes we just don’t have the motivation to sit down and finish the task.
In those times, we just need a little boost of inspiration! Here’s what works for me to help me stop procrastinating and get my meal plan done efficiently.
1) Get Inspired with Pictures
Whether I need to find inspiration to clean my house, go for a run, or cook dinner, PICTURES can usually do that for me! That’s why it’s #1 here in my list. If you see a picture of a dinner that you want to try, or you think your family would enjoy, you will be 10x more likely to cook it. Some places I go for inspiring pictures are:
- Pinterest. Search dinner recipes, healthy dinners, quick dinners, etc.
- Magazines – Even in this digital age, I’m still a magazine junkie. There’s something about flipping through a magazine that inspires me. I love Cooking Light & Taste of Home for meal ideas.
- Blogs/ websites
- A meal planning and recipe app like Prepear.
2) Set a Timer for Yourself
In reality is, sitting down to plan your meals for the week takes no longer than ten minutes! If you don’t believe it, set a timer. Once the timer goes off, if you aren’t finished, the rest of the week can be leftovers! (Hah!) But really, I guarantee that with a little practice, you can do it in ten minutes or less!
3) Keep a Calendar
I don’t know about you, but for me, if something is on my calendar I am COMMITTED. Open your calendar and use this visual representation of your week to get inspired to make a plan. (This can really help because you can also easily think about what else is going on with your week!)
I used to use Google Calendar to store my meal plan. Now I use Prepear. It’s got a built in calendar and I can customize what days my meals appear.
3) Find your Family’s Favorite Patterns
To make meal planning successful, you need to create a pattern that fits with your life, and is easy to remember.
Our pattern will be different than yours, but you can find what works for you.
At Super Healthy Kids includes, our pattern looks like this: Meatless Mondays, A pasta dish, A fish dish, A chicken dinner, a crockpot meal, and usually a soup. This makes it easy and swift to fill in the blanks. Other families I know have Mexican night, Italian Night, Comfort food night, and Pizza night.
Having the same theme or pattern each week is inspiring because it takes out what I call “the rabbit hole” of browsing the internet or books. You have one goal, you find the recipe, and you jot it down in your meal planner notebook! Done!
4) Let Your Kids Inspire You
Your kids can get involved and will keep you accountable as well! I can personally tell you, some of my favorite memories are when I would gather the kids around for a Monday night activity, and they would be the ones to plan the meals. They love flipping through cookbooks and showing me the meals they wanted to eat that week. They loved shouting out their favorites, and being the ones to pick the day of the week it would be prepared on. Not only does this teach them what an important activity meal planning is, but also gives you the opportunity to spend some quality time with them.
5) Visualize a Successful Week
I’m a big fan of visualization! In business, in health, in writing goals, etc. If I can close my eyes and picture a full pantry, a healthy fridge, and a hot, healthy meal on the table for my kids to gather around, it inspires me. If you have no meals on your calendar yet, spend a few minutes thinking about how good it feels so have your meal plan done, your groceries bought, and your 5 o’clock dinner hour going smoothly.
6) Don’t Think All-or-Nothing: Make a Mini-Plan.
To diminish the overwhelm and just get started, mini-plan your week! If a full week of meals is overwhelming, just plan for 3-4 days. The important thing is that you are planning for TOMORROW, whenever tomorrow is. We just don’t want it to be 5 pm when you try to decide what to make for dinner. By then, it’s too late to make dinner without stress. Get inspired by small, mini-chunks of planning and stay organized and ahead of the day.
7) Go to the Farmer’s Market (or Think Seasonal!)
Your local farmers’ market can give you ideas based on what’s in season and abundant right now. If you don’t have a local farmer’s market, you can do a quick online search to find out what fresh produce is in season. Then plan meals around that!
8) Start with a Template
Print out a meal plan template that allows you to just fill in the blanks. It’s much easier than having a blank sheet of paper staring at you. A template can help you stay organized and on track, and inspire you to fill it out completely.
9) Recruit a Friend
Find a buddy who wants to plan meals with you, and check in with each other once a week! If you both use the Prepear app, you can follow each other to see each other’s plans.
You can also start a Facebook group with your friends or neighbors to share meal plan and recipe ideas. Get together, share resources, and even share food!
10) Follow a Meal Plan that’s Already Done For You
At Super Healthy Kids, we’ve been providing a meal plan subscription service since 2012. Our meal plans are written by a dietitian and a mom, to keep the meals healthy and kid-friendly!
Tens of thousands of families have cooked our plans over the years, and found new family favorites that are full of fruits and veggies. Learn more about our meal plans and get one for yourself here.
Do you have other ways you get inspiration? We’d LOVE to hear about it!