It’s 3 pm. You’ve been running around the house all day attempting at getting all the laundry done, vacuuming the floors, trying to get your work assignment done before the deadline at 6pm… all while trying to get bubblegum off of the couch. And then, at probably the worst time, your husband walks in wondering what’s for dinner… which you haven’t even thought about. Now you have to stop everything you’re doing (and you’re probably going to miss that deadline) to figure out what to make. Wouldn’t it be nice if you already had the meal planned..days ahead? What a relief that would be! Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s a way to eliminate the stress. And, best of all, it’s super easy, ESPECIALLY when an Instant Pot is involved!
Welcome to the world of meal planning.
What is meal planning, exactly? Meal planning is simple – a lot simpler than you might think. You just sit down and decide what you want to eat over the next week (or month, if you’re feeling ambitious). Then you list out the ingredients you need on your shopping list. You can do your meal plans yourself, or you can even have someone else meal plan for you, with a service like 5 Dollar Meal Plan. With 5 Dollar Meal Plan, they actually write out your meal plans FOR you and send them to you every week, saving you the time and effort, and helping ensure that you actually HAVE a meal plan!
In a rush? Join our instant pot for busy people group!
What are the benefits of meal planning?
- It saves time. Just imagine not having to run to the grocery store multiple times a week to pick up ingredients you need to cook anything for dinner. When you meal plan, you have everything you need and you always know just what to make.
- It saves money. By writing out your meals, you can make a very well organized grocery list with a purpose. Not only can you plan your meals around sales and items you already have in your pantry, but you’re less likely to waste food because you can make a plan for turning your old leftovers into something else. (Plus, with 5 Dollar Dinners, all of their meals are under $5 anyway, so that’s a serious saving right there)
- It helps with dieting. Whether you are trying to lose weight or just eat healthier, planning out your meals helps to put your diet in focus. Rather than grabbing something unhealthy at the last minute because you’re too busy to figure something out or run to the store, now you can search for healthy meals and put them on your menu ahead of time, when you’re more likely to make good choices.
- It helps with sanity. If you’re anything like me, being organized helps lift off a “burden” and makes me feel better. By planning out your meals ahead of time, you can get the same feeling! Not only all of that, but you can ultimately be a blessing to your whole family by being so organized.
- You can involve your family! Meal planning is wonderful to do with other people. Get your husband involved by asking him what meals he likes. Ask your kids to help you plan, instilling wonderful life skills in them!
But..I don’t have enough time to plan!
Yes, you do. Remember the point above? Meal planning SAVES time- it’s completely painless! Here’s all you have to do:
- Pick the day you want to plan. Think about if you want to plan monthly, weekly or bi-weekly. I personally prefer weekly so that I can look at the events I have planned for the week and go from there. I also like to pick a day that I don’t have a lot planned.
- Sit down with a planner, a calendar, or even a scratch piece of paper-anything to gather your thoughts. Personally, I use Plan to Eat because I enjoy actually choosing the meals I’ll make each week. I just pick the ones I want and Plan to Eat compiles my printable grocery list for me.
- Write out what you want to make each day. You can always switch things around later if you want.
- Write down the ingredients you’ll need for each recipe as you go. (If you have Plan to Eat, it will do this step automatically)
- Or, if you really, truly don’t have the time to plan, then it’s absolutely worth it to sign up for 5 Dollar Dinners and let someone else plan for you!
Here’s an example: Monday:
-Lunch: Tossed salad with blue cheese dressing
-Breakfast: Instant Pot Breakfast Hash
-Dinner: Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
Doing the paper/pencil version? You can use this meal plan tracking sheet if you’d like. Simply click on the image to view it larger, then print it out.
So, this is the beauty of meal planning. If you want, you can take a week (or more) off. Just reuse a plan from a previous week or use a premade plan instead of making your own. However, I strongly caution taking too much time off. After a while, it will be easy to simply fall out of the habit of planning and you’ll be right back to your stressed out self.What happens when I don’t feel like planning?
Get a freebie: Meal Planning & Shopping List Printable
I found something I want to make, but I already made my plan…
So, you’re on Pinterest and you see an Instant Pot quesadilla recipe that you HAVE to make…like now. But, you already made your plan. What now? Well, you have two choices: Change your plan or you can stick with what you had scheduled. Either is fine. (You’ll still have all the ingredients, so you can always make tonight’s recipe a different day). I actually switch around the order of my recipes all the time.
You can do healthy AND frugal!
A lot of people may think, “How can I meal plan to eat healthier…But also stick to my budget….and use an Instant Pot!?” By searching for and planning your healthy meals before the day you want to make it, you can figure out what ingredients you need and shop around for the lowest prices! It truly is a win-win! Like to bargain hunt? You can set aside a certain amount in your weekly/monthly grocery budge for “future items”- things you might find at a really good price to plan for later. Once it’s time to meal plan again, you can incorporate those items into your planned meals! Or–use these awesome meal plans! They feature delicious and healthy dinners–all for $5 or less!
So, what types of things should I plan?
Whatever you want! Write in your family’s favorite meals or some new Instant Pot recipes you’d love to try. Designate theme nights (like Snack Food Mondays, Soup Tuesdays, Low Carb Wednesday etc)–whatever works best for you. Over time, you will learn which meals are easy and painless and which require more work and planning. Look at your schedule and plan accordingly. You’ll also realize that you might not need to make 6 or 7 meals a week—-you can incorporate eating leftovers into your plan as well.
**Convinced that meal planning is important, but you just don’t feel like doing it? Why not have someone else do it for you? For only $5 a month, you can get all of the benefits of meal planning–the healthy recipes, the time savings, and budget savings–without actually having to sit down to plan! Find out more here.
Do you meal plan? What are your methods of keeping organized? Do you have favorite meals?
Looking for suggestions?
Here are some of our favorite Instant Pot recipes we love to plan!