Topic 1 Steps to Meal Planning Success

Making a meal plan before heading to the store can help you get organized, save money, and choose healthier options. When you decide to plan meals for your family, you should choose options with high nutrient density and low in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars by reading the nutritional facts label. Avoid separating meals for each child, and also between adults and the kids.

  • Discuss with all family members which types of foods, meals or recipes they would like to eat.
  • Start a monthly calendar or spreadsheet to record your meal ideas, favorite recipe websites, and food shopping lists. You should plan your meals considering these five food groups— grains, vegetables, fruits, protein foods, and dairy products. You can find a worksheet example to plan your meals in this link (
  • Collect healthy recipes. Clip recipes from print magazines, newspapers or apps and save in a binder, or copy links of recipes onto an online spreadsheet. Try out some new recipes. Find new ideas for healthy and low-cost meals based on what you have on hand, foods your family enjoys, and foods that are good buys.
  • Consider specific meals or foods for different days of the week. Some families enjoy the consistency of knowing what to expect, and it can help to ease your meal planning. Some examples are Meatless Mondays, Whole Grain Wednesdays, Stir-Fry Fridays, etc.
  • See what you already have on hand. Look in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Check always the expiration dates of each product. It is the best way to avoid food waste and make sure we use up the ingredients we have on hand before buying something new.
  • Write down your meals and use it as a guide. Choose meals you can easily prepare when you don’t have much time. Take into account special events during the week, including when you might enjoy dinner out.
  • List out recipes to try
  • Think about your schedule
  • Plan to use leftovers
  • Make a grocery list
  • Build your shopping list as you go
  • Finally, buy a combination of fresh, frozen, and non-perishable foods

It is very interesting to share the meal plan with your family members so they can help with shopping and meal preparation. For some, the plan can be posted on a white board or a calendar posted on the fridge.

Nowadays, there is a lot of free menu planning apps or tools, available on the internet that will help the families with your weekly menu plan. Next, we present some of the most used platforms. Some of them allow plan special meals such as gluten-free, paleo or vegetarian meal plans for example.

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels