Meal Planning Part I: Before the Grocery Store

17 Jul

Some of the most popular questions I get are meal planning-related. I am a firm believer in the cliche saying “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” As a dietitian, self-proclaimed foodie, and grocery shopping lover, even have a hard time staying healthy when I’m forced to wing it in the kitchen. Planning ahead, especially when it comes to food, makes for seamless mornings, easy snacks, and {almost} effortless dinners. So here’s a rundown on how I meal plan…

I start by taking inventory of what we already have and make note of any obvious gaps.




(3 things that seem to disappear in an instant at our house!)

I also make note of things that need to be used up.

Then I fill in the blanks with our staple breakfast/snack/lunch foods. Yogurt, “milks”, bars, bread, and hummus are some staple food examples.

In the warmer months, a farmer’s market trip typically falls between the kitchen inventory/staples step and the meal planning step. It’s fun to get what looks good without the restriction of a shopping list! (In the winter, I skip this step and go straight to meal planning).


Farmer’s markets are also great for meal inspiration.


Next comes what many probably consider the most tedious step- actual planning of the meals. This is also the most commonly skipped step! And the key step! I check the calendar to see what the coming week entails. Does JWD have a late ____ (fill-in-the-sport) game? Do I have an early morning/late evening clients? Any fun plans for going out? I make note of anything that will disrupt a normal dinner time and plan accordingly. Meals with longer prep times will fall on weekends or on days that I have a light client load, quick + easy meals (link) will fall on busy nights, and so on. I also try to mix things up so we aren’t having the same foods back-to-back.

As for recipes, I scan my Pinterest board, cookbooks, and magazines for new inspiration. And I always mix in a few memorized staples for ease! (more on these types of meals at a later date!)


After the meals are scheduled, I add required ingredients to the shopping list. I make weekday lunches a breeze by planning for leftovers with certain recipes! I use this nifty planner from May Designs, a company I’ve blogged about before.


(We write our grocery list in code 🙂 )

After my list is complete, I take my book to the grocery store and stock up!

Stay tuned for more!! Thanks for reading 🙂


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