Meal Planning

Topic Overview

Planning your meals can help you eat more nutritiously, reduce trips to the grocery store, save time at the store, and save money.

Menu planning tips

Use the menu planner and grocery list shown below as you follow these steps:

  1. Get out your cookbooks and plan several main meals. Make a list of these menu ideas on a menu planner. Plan some quick meals for busy nights. You also can double some recipes that freeze well, and save half for other busy nights when you don't have time to cook.
  2. Check your pantry for all the ingredients called for in recipes. Write down all the ingredients you need to purchase. If you notice you are running low on certain basic items, put these on your grocery list as well.
  3. Now fill in foods that you use to make breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, such as eggs, cereals, breads, tuna, milk, and juice. List plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  4. Post this list on the refrigerator and add to it as you run out of foods or think of other things you need.
  5. Take the list to the store and stick to it. You save money by not making impulse buys. However, you don't need to be so rigid that you pass up a good sale item.
  6. When you get home, cut out and post the menu planner in your kitchen. You may want to write down page numbers from recipe books for quick reference. This way, whoever gets home first can start dinner.

The first few times you do this, it will seem like a fair amount of work. But the rewards are worth it, and you will become faster at the planning process. You can even save some of the menus and grocery lists and use them again in a few weeks.

Menu planner

Plan your meals for at least 3 days.

 

Breakfasts

Lunches

Dinners

Day 1:      
Day 2:      
Day 3:      
Day 4:      
Day 5:      

Grocery List

Write down any basic food items you need and the ingredients for your meals.

Reorganize this list, if needed, to match your grocery store's layout.

Produce

 

 

Bakery/Bread

 

 

Baking, oils, seasonings

 

 

Pasta, grains, dry beans

 

 

Ethnic

 

 

Canned foods

 

 

Condiments

 

 

Deli

 

 

Frozen

 

 

Cereals/Snacks

 

 

Paper/Plastic

 

 

Milk, cheese, yogurt, dairy

 

 

Pets

 

 

Beverages

 

 

Laundry, cleaning

 

 

Other

 

 

Credits

Author Debby Golonka, MPH
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Ruth Schneider, MPH, RD - Diet and Nutrition
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Last Updated February 6, 2009

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