Simple meal planning for busy people

We’ve all got crazy lives, hey.

My week is scheduled within an inch of itself with work, dropoffs, corporate meetings, personal-training, after school appointments, washing, reading stories, playdates, social events and blogging. And good nutrition is important to me. But that becomes a massive chore to get organised.

Maybe I’m a bit slow in the brainbox, but if I don’t plan my meals, I tend to not be able to think on the spot. I can’t decide what to cook. Or I end up only having half the ingredients to make a recipe. Then I fall back on stuff that doesn’t have many ingredients and is easy, like pasta or risotto which isn’t very nutrient-dense. Or we get takeaway. And takeaway makes me MAD. It’s never very tasty and it’s not healthy and it’s expensive. Or we waste food because I forget what I’m cooking, and waste makes me even madder than takeaway.

So I’ve worked out a failsafe method for meal planning and now I couldn’t live without my weekly session. Some of you may prefer to fly by the seat of your pants, but for me the fear of showing my butt-crack is too frightening.

Here’s six simple things you can do to plan your meals:

1. Start Simple

I can at times be paralysed into inaction by overthinking. There is no need to overthink this at all. We all need to eat and you’re better off eating good food than bad food and planning makes everything a bit more efficient. In order to expedite the process I mostly only plan our dinners. Doing all our meal planning is is waaaaay too hard and confusing and time-consuming. I may write notes on the meal plan if I plan to cook muffins early on Wednesday morning for a work meeting, or if I am hosting a lunch on Saturday. But mostly it’s just our evening meals. Think about which meals you have most trouble pulling together and start there.

2. Prompt Cards


Write down a bunch meals you like to cook. Do this one night while your watching TV. Or over a few weeks. These will help to remind you when you’re doing your planning and ensure you have some variety and don’t just do the same thing over and over. Don’t over complicate it, they don’t have to be fancy meals, just make sure there are meals everyone likes and are easy to cook. Variety is the spice of life!

3. Recipe Cards



I have some of my favourite recipes written down on cards and stored in a box. That way when things are busy I don’t have to go rooting around for a recipe that I can’t remember. The great thing about writing them down is it helps you to memorise them too.

4. Setting Aside a Time

You may think “I don’t have time to fuck around with stupid meal planning, what a waste of time”. But honestly you spend the time anyway on the night. Thinking about what you are going to cook and contemplating ingredients, racing to the corner store because you’ve forgotten something etc. I prefer to spend my time up front and be less stressed. For me it works best to do the meal planning prior to doing the shopping. This tends to be on a Saturday or Sunday morning because that’s when I have the time to go to the supermarket. Sometimes I arrange to click and collect or home delivery depending on when I need the groceries. I generally find I need to have my shopping done by Sunday as I often do some cooking Sunday afternoon or make a slice or protein balls or something for lunchboxes.

5. Planning Around the Schedule

When I’m doing the planning I have my prompt cards/recipes there as a guide. I also do the meal planning with my husband and we check the weekly diary at the same time. For example if I have late meetings, we plan something that my husband finds easy to cook such as fried rice or pasta. Or we have something on those nights that can be defrosted. On very busy afternoons, the kids might just have leftovers so they can eat on time and we might have a special ‘adult’ meal later at night, like thai seafood salad with HEAPS of chilli. (In your FACE children, with your boring, underdeveloped tastebuds).

6. Write it down and Put it Where you Can See it


I found this giant post it note thing from OfficeWorks and I really like it as I can write down the meals and then write down my shopping list on the side thing. Then I can tear off the list and take it shopping and put the other bit up on the fridge for the week. But really two pieces of paper and some fridge magnets would be fine. You don’t need anything fancy at all. It’s the process, not the tools that are important. Just make sure you have the menu where you can see it in case you forget what you’re cooking!

7. Practice Makes Perfect


It took me a long time to get into the swing of this. But that’s because I tried heaps of other methods that didn’t really work that well. This is super simple and very quick. Try it a few times and let me know whether it helps you to be more organised!

Do you plan your meals? How do you do it?

Have any awesome tips on meal planning you’d like to share?


Written By

Gillian is a marketing savant and brand strategist with over 20 years of experience in above and below the line marketing, digital strategy and creative direction. She is an exceptional people person who loves to collaborate with clients every step of the way to achieve the best possible outcome. Gillian is also a successful makeup-artist and make-up obsessive who loves to share her tricks of the trade and help women to look good and feel great.


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