Meal planning can sometimes feel like you’re throwing spaghetti on a wall, hoping it sticks, right? Did you know there are many different ways and methods? We’re going to talk about the three most popular meal planning methods and which one is best for you.
(This post probably contains affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is quite boring, but you can read it here if you’d like!)
I have been meal planning for decades.
I have tried all of the methods.
These are the top three ways and you’re going to see how meal planning can really save you some time and money.
I’m also going to share with you the one secret that I have that will work for any of these ways.
1 Weekly Meal Planning
This is by far the most popular! Almost everybody I talk to that meal plans, meal plans weekly.
I also personally think this one uses the most time and also the most money, and I’ll tell you why.
So when you’re weekly meal planning you’re gathering all of your stuff that you need, right? You’re sitting down with your meal planner, your calendar, and your recipe ideas or meal ideas. Maybe even the flyers for that week if you coupon plus your coupons. That’s a lot of “stuff” to get before you even sit down to meal plan, right?
So if you meal plan weekly, you’re doing all this pre-planning work 4 times per month! And you haven’t even planned a single thing yet. That’s a lot of wasted time. Sorry, I know you didn’t want to hear that!
I think there are better ways, like I said.
But I get that this does really work for some people and I understand why – it’s easy! You can get into a routine with doing it every Sunday, or maybe Saturday morning if you’re going to grocery shop that day.
It also works for people that have a schedule that changes very often – if you don’t have the same schedule at work every week or maybe your kids do something different every every week or your husband’s schedule changes, then weekly might work for you.
How to meal plan weekly:
1 gather all of the “things” – planner, calendar, meal ideas, flyers, coupons, etc.
2 look at your calendar and say okay, you know this night. I am going to be home late on Monday, so let’s have a crockpot meal that night. We have soccer practice Tuesday, so it’s just going to be sandwiches for dinner that night, etc.
3 write it down
4 make your grocery list
So that works for most people because it’s the way that they’re used to. And it’s simple! But I’m going to challenge you to think about other ways.
So before you go grabbing some weekly meal planners in my freebie library, keep reading to see if another method might work better for you.
Weekly meal planning is for you if you…
- are a commitment-phobe
- have a constantly changing schedule
- are completely new to meal planning
Related Post: 50+ Amazing Theme Night Meal Ideas (plus a free list and worksheet)
2 Monthly Meal Planning
Okay, so the second second way to meal plan is monthly. I personally love love love love LOVE monthly meal planning!
Don’t be a commitment-phobe when it comes to meal planning – it’s not set in stone!
Your meal plan is simply that – a plan! Things change, things WILL go wrong – somebody will eat something you needed, you’ll decide to go out for dinner, somebody will cancel plans, whatever things go wrong sometimes.
Still. Monthly meal planning is a great way to have a good overall strategy for the month. And I personally think this is the one that will take up the least amount of time for you!
Why do I think that?
Because you’re only sitting down with all the “things” ONCE instead of FOUR times in a month.
That in itself will save you time, but I also think that most people have schedule that does not change all that often.
Monthly Meal planning is for you if you…
- want to spend very little time meal planning
- don’t have a constantly changing schedule
- want a ton of variety all the time
Related Post: Monthly Meal Planning (Make it in less than 1 hour!)(plus a free planner!)
3 Capsule Pantry™ meal planning method
The third way is my Capsule Pantry™ way of meal planning which is basically still monthly, but you’re using a master meal plan that rotates every season. It’s like a mix and match meal plan!
It’s based on the foods and meals your family loves and it takes a more intentional way of taking your meal plan up a notch. Also, if you live in a place that has various seasons, you can create this around seasonal ingredients and cooking methods. Which will save you time and money!
The Capsule Pantry method uses minimal ingredients, and that’s what I love about it. It’s a simple way to cook, plan your meals, and keep your kitchen and pantry under control.
Just think how much this will save your grocery shopping! and it’s all based on the things that you love so it’s taking your monthly meal plan and putting it up a notch basically.
There are quite a few instructional articles on the Capsule Pantry, and I even have a course on it that goes way more in depth on how to do it.
If you want to simplify your grocery shopping and your kitchen in general, then the Capsule Pantry will be your best friend.
Oooh, and the Capsule Pantry is excellent for picky eaters since you’re creating that plan around what they already eat and love! Then you just add in some new foods and variety here and there!
The Capsule Pantry is for you if you…
- both love planning and hate planning (type A AND type B!)
- want the quickest method possible
- practice minimalism or zero waste
Related Post: How to Meal Plan only 4 times per year (plus a free Checklist and planner!)
SECRET WEAPON (for all methods!)
So I have this secret weapon that I use that works with every type of meal planning. Using this simple secret weapon will transform your meal planning, no matter what kind you do.
✔︎ fly by the seat of your pants
✔︎ Capsule Pantry
Can you guess what it is??? it’s Theme Nights, of course!
Theme Nights will make your life so much easier and most people use them based on what they’re eating (like the ever popular Taco Tuesday!) and I like to start off with how I’m making it. So instead of having Taco Tuesday and Waffle Wednesday you would have Slow Cooker Saturday or Sheet Pan Sunday.
Plus, I think that will work with your schedule much better so anyway. You can grab a list of over 50 ideas here.
If you’d like to get started with the Capsule Pantry, you can grab the free Capsule Pantry™ Checklist & Planner below.
There you have it. Now go grab your planner and start meal planning LESS!