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There could be any number of reasons you’ve lost your habit of meal planning, it became too tedious, you went through an unpredictable stage of life, or you just got back from vacation. Even if you’re a diligent planner, there can still be times when you get out of the habit of meal planning and need to find your way back to your reliable routine. Just because you’re out of the habit now, doesn’t mean all hope is lost!

One of the benefits of meal planning is you give yourself greater clarity and control over what you’re going to eat and feed your family. No more 5 o’clock freak out about dinner plans! There’s also increased productivity when your meal plan is done because you’re not wasting time every evening trying to decide what to cook or if you should just order take-out. 

You may recognize the need to get back in the habit of meal planning but are still struggling to motivate. Reminding yourself of the benefits like mental clarity, increased productivity, money savings, and less wasted food can help you restart your planning routine.

Meal planning tips to revive your routine

1. Schedule your meal planning and grocery shopping.

A big part of creating a new routine is making time in your schedule for it. If you add time for meal planning and grocery shopping into your weekly schedule, you will be more likely to do it. You can set reminders on your phone or digital calendar to be notified when it’s time to meal plan. You can also break the process down into two days, so you meal plan one day and then shop, or schedule grocery pickup the next day.

2. Keep your meal plan simple.

Don’t overcomplicate the process. Especially in the beginning, keep things simple!
A few ideas for keeping your meal plan simple:

  • Plan 2-3 recipes for your week, increase the serving sizes for leftovers, and then plan for 1-2 nights of takeout.
  • Plan recipes that take 30-minutes or less to prepare (use the “total time” filter to find quick recipes!).
  • Plan recipes you’re familiar with so they can be cooked on “auto-pilot”.
  • Get your family’s input on their favorite recipes or what sounds good. Take some of the mental load off by asking for help!
  • Plan around what you have at home with the With Ingredients filter in Plan to Eat.

3. Get a meal planning buddy.

Enlist a friend, co-worker, or family member to help you stay accountable for creating your meal plan. Text each other recipes you love for inspiration and share what meals you’re making each week.

4. Make the process enjoyable.

Our co-worker, Jess, meal plans in a comfy spot with her favorite beverage. She says, “It becomes a quiet retreat and something fun to do, rather than a chore!” How can you set up your meal planning routine to be more enjoyable?

5. Meal plan from a template.

Planning from a template can take the guesswork out of what types of recipes to add to your meal plan. Eliminating that one step can make all the difference in whether your meal plan gets done or not. In Plan to Eat, you can create a meal planning template with Menus.
Here are some template ideas:

  • Each day has a recipe “theme”, like Taco Tuesday or Meatless Monday
  • Each day is assigned to a family member, who gets to pick the recipe for that day
  • Each day is assigned a main ingredient, like chicken on Monday and fish on Thursday

1/2. Subscribe to recipe emails.

Subscribe to your favorite recipe blogger’s email list. Most bloggers send out meal plans, and daily, or weekly recipe recommendations to give you instant planning inspiration!

Instead of being frustrated at meal times, plan ahead and save yourself the added stress. All habits get easier over time as you establish your routine, so don’t give up!

For more tips on getting back in the habit of meal planning, check out Episode #28 of The Plan to Eat Podcast.

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