a couple doing their weekly meal planning

Do love local, seasonal produce? Then a weekly meal plan is best for you!

Are you the type of person who likes to grocery shop on the weekends, and do your meal planning on Saturday or Sunday? Or maybe you browse your local farmer’s market, to see what local, seasonal produce looks good. If so,  then a weekly meal planner may be a great fit for you.

Benefits of a Weekly Meal Planner

There are a number of benefits to meal planning – in general – from saving time and money to bringing more delicious (and nutritious!) meals to the table. But let’s take at look at why planning weekly may be the best bet for you.

Less Time Commitment Planning by the Week

One of the main benefits of meal planning by the week is that there isn’t so much up front time involved. In fact, creating a meal plan for the month – from scratch – can take a solid day. For many people, it is a lot more manageable to work week by week than trying to create a meal plan for the entire month.

Last Minute Deals Equals Cheaper Meal Planning

Did your local farmer get a bumper crop of peaches? Or are apples on sale for $0.50 per pound at your local grocer? When you use a weekly meal planner, you can take advantage! While you’ll have an idea of what’s in season  each month using seasonal charts (see ours here), you can’t predict when that overfilled truckload of perfectly ripe peaches might appear. Planning your meals by the week gives you more a little flexibility if you’re not great at improvising and substituting.

More Wiggle Room for Spontaneous Meals

Expecting guests who will double your meal planning needs? Enjoy the excitement of picking your menus and figuring out what you’ll be savoring each week? Then the week-by-week method is probably best for you. You can still save big on staples and frozen items, allowing your creativity to flourish in the produce section.

Five Steps for Meal Planning by the Week

Making a meal plan can save you a lot of time and money in the long run – especially if you are buying frozen or non-perishables in bulk. Here are five simple steps for weekly meal planning.

  1. Plan your menus by day– Monday night is salmon, Tuesday is grass-fed beef, Wednesday vegetarian meal, etc.
  2. Itemize all ingredients in each recipe, and scale for the number of people in your household
  3. Create your shopping list from the ingredients
  4. Take inventory of staples (like spices, salt, sauces) that are low  – you probably didn’t account for those!
  5. Go shopping!

It seems easy enough, but it can be time consuming. In fact, more than 5 hours are spent on average per week planning meals. And when we don’t plan in advance…

  • We end up empty handed and make meals that are boring
  • We eat the same foods over and over again (which isn’t just boring but also unhealthy)
  • We make “comfort foods” and old favorites that are typically high calories… and low in nutrients
  • We make multiple trips to the store taking MORE time and money

 

These are just a few things to take into account when starting the meal planning process.  You’ll find the full-sized version of the below meal planning template plus tips on saving money, time, shopping smarter, planning leftovers and more in Meal Plans 101 – Yours FREE when you sign up for our newsletter (to the right).

weekly meal planner template