Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Meal planning is all about making your menu and schedule work for you. With a little patience, planning, and avoiding these six common mistakes, you’ll be a meal-planning superhero in no time at all.
Common Mistakes That First-Time Meal Planners Make
Meal planning makes life so much easier. It gives you a plan of action and helps you to eat healthier. It may seem like a no-brainer. You write down what you plan to eat for dinner each night, but ops.. you get home from work and you can make this meal.
What just happened? You made one of the following common meal-planning mistakes.
Now you feel more frustrated about this life-changing decision to eat healthier.
Falling victim to some common mistakes can be very discouraging, and they may not even try again. So let’s talk about some of these common mistakes so that you can avoid them.
Not Having a Well-Stocked Pantry
Not having a well-stocked pantry can throw even the best-laid meal plans off track. Make sure that you keep several of the items that you use frequently in your pantry at all times.
Things like canned tomatoes, beef or chicken stock, cream of soups, rice, pasta, and spices should always be on hand.
This will make dinner prep happen in a snack. I also like to make sure I write down items on a shopping list when we are close to running out.
Not Writing it Down
One of the biggest mistakes that first-time meal planners make is to not write down the meals planned. Keeping it in your head will eventually fail you. If you have it written down first, you have a plan of action.
Yes, it may seem like a lot of work, but it will help you in the long run.
Think about it.
There is no way that you are going to just remember everything. It is impossible. Writing it down gives you a plan. Then once you have a plan, as you know, you can put it into action.
Grocery shopping for the week just got a little easier, too.
Over or Under Preparing
Another mistake that first-time meal planners often make is to prepare too much or not enough food in the meals that have been planned.
Make sure to pay attention to how many servings a recipe prepares and think about who you will be serving them to.
For example, if you have teenagers in the house, you may need to double the recipe so that it will feed everyone.
On the other hand, if you have a toddler or school-age child whose appetites are not as hearty, you may end up with more leftovers than expected.
Do remember that leftovers can be used for lunches.
You can even think about taking leftovers and freezing them for a future meal. Just make sure to store them properly and label and date them well.
Not Having a Back-Up Plan
Even the most seasoned meal planners will tell you that no matter how well you plan, the unexpected can happen.
A flat tire on the way home from soccer practice, a last-minute work meeting that makes you run late, or having to pick up a sick child from school, can all bring the best-laid plans to a halt.
Instead of having to get takeout, have a backup plan.
Your backup plan can consist of a previously frozen casserole. Making dinner a breeze. Just toss it in the oven.
Other backup plan ideas that are quick and easy include; soup or salad, omelets, or pancakes.
Planning to Cook Every Night
Many first-time meal planners assume that they will have to cook a new meal every night. While you can cook a meal every night, doing so is a great way to ensure that you are going to get burnt out on meal planning and cooking fast.
Have at least one night a week where you make a double batch of a meal.
Think about using your slow cooker. Then either freeze the other half for a future week or plan to have leftovers one night.
Having a supply of pre-cooked or prepared meals in your freezer means you still have healthy dinner options. This way, you don’t have to go without having to cook every single night.
Not Prepping at the Beginning of the Week
Now, just because you have planned your meals does not mean that your work is done. It takes a little time at the beginning of each week to prepare.
When you first start, this may take you a little longer than you like, but as you get used to your routine, it will get quicker.
This may mean washing and chopping vegetables, trimming meat into properly sized portions, or marinating meat.
Any time that you spend prepping at the beginning of the week is saving you time later in the week.
Meal Planning Can Work. Give it a week and you will see a difference.
These are just a few of the mistakes that first-time meal planners make that may discourage them from continuing to try. Have you tried meal planning before?
Did it work for you, or did you make some of these common first-time mistakes?
Other Great Meal Planning Resources
Eating out is easy, and it usually tastes delicious, but it’s expensive. Making these meals at home will save you money. Try meal planning today.