Getting Started on Meal Planning

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Every month I tell my husband that we really should start meal planning. I literally have thousands of amazing recipes saved on my Pinterest recipe board along with all types of calendars and planners and apps. All I need is to actually sit down and begin. I just haven’t figured out how to get started. So I decided to ask a few fellow moms what they recommend. I’m also collaborating with Holley Grainger, Registered Dietitian + Culinary and Nutrition Communications Expert + Spokesperson, Video Host & Producer + Blogger + Mom (yes, it is a credential), to bring you all some meal planning tips!

Meal Planning Tips with Holley Grainger (Guest Post):

It never fails that 5pm rolls around and I start getting “the look” and hearing the proverbial, “What’s for dinner?” question. I would be lying if I said that there are many nights that I have no idea. Sometimes I think I could win Chopped blindfolded because I have become the queen of creating something out of nothing when it comes to putting together a meal.
However, Ive decided not to let the dinner stress overcoming me. I’ve accepted that boxed mac and cheese (with some grated zucchini mixed in) counts as dinner as well as scrambled eggs or waffle sandwiches.
Research shows that only 3 family meals per week have huge long-term benefits for children including having a healthier relationship with food, having a decreased chance of having an eating disorder and having a decreased incidence of becoming overweight. Think about that…3 meals (out of 21 eating opportunities per week) and it let’s me breathe a little easier when it comes to meals planning.
If you’re new to meal planning, start small and aim to achieve those 3 family meals first. They can be any meal–breakfast, lunch or dinner.
For a fun family breakfast, I like making our Family Favorite Pancake Muffins and letting each member of the family customize with their favorite ingredients.
For lunch, I try to plan and cook ahead so we are still able to eat together but won’t have to take a huge chunk out of our day for food prep and cooking. I love making Mason Jar Greek Salads ahead so they are ready to eat when the girls get hungry for lunch. I also will make lunchboxes ahead (even during the summer) so we can pull lunch right out of the fridge and set up our own picnic.
Easy and fast dinners are a must which is why we make Simple Weeknight Chicken Tostadas regularly.

Meet Holley:

Holley Grainger, MS, RD is a nationally recognized culinary nutrition and lifestyle expert and the “Mommy Dietitian in the Kitchen” who instructs families on how to make practical, doable and delicious meals. Her real-life approach to feeding a family and having fun in the kitchen has made her a sought-after partner for brands as well as a social media influencer for moms. She loves sharing the daily ins-and-outs of raising two young daughters, Ellie and Frances, and an English bulldog, Winston on her blog and on social media.

Holley has been featured in more than 800 online videos for her brand, Holley’s Kitchen, as well as Cooking Light,, and Southern Living. Holley has also been featured in hundreds of televisions, print, and radio segments nationwide including The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctor’s, NBC’s Today Show, CNN, The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Eating Well, Cooking Light, and Parents among over a dozen other media outlets and is a regular contributor to the Birmingham, Alabama news outlets.

Connect with Holley:

Follow Holley on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube and Instagram and sign up for Holley’s Kitchen Notes newsletter.

Meal Planning Mama Survey:

I asked a few other mamas what their meal planning tips were and here’s what they said:

Emily Allen from

Lindsay: How many people live in your household?

Emily: 8

Lindsay: How long have you been meal planning for?

Emily: 10 years

Lindsay: What tools do you use for meal planning? (Apps, planners, kitchen accessories, etc.)

Emily: I use a paper chart I created for myself with spaces to plan out every meal of the week–breakfast, lunch, and dinner–for our family of 8. I plan one week at a time, and shop for everything we need on the weekend for the week ahead. My favorite kitchen tools are: My cookie sheets (we do a lot of roasted vegetables), FitPacker containers (for prepped ingredients or for leftovers to be packaged in an appetizing way so they will be consumed for lunches later in the week), my 20-cup rice-cooker, and the nylon scraper and Bar Keep I use to clean our stainless pans.

Lindsay: What tips do you recommend for someone just starting meal planning?

Emily: I recommend that anyone who wants to get started with meal planning try out a variety of different styles before landing on the one that works best for them (or before they give up on it!). For me, I find it has grown easier over the years to forego tedious recipes and develop a meal with what I call “intuitive” cooking, where I might consult a recipe for the ingredient list, but I deviate from it in huge ways (as in, rarely measure anything) and guesstimate the quantities. Because I am already scaling most recipes for our large family, I find this method works really well for me.

Connect with Emily on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Heather from

Lindsay: How many people live in your household?

Heather: 4

Lindsay: How long have you been meal planning for?

Heather: a few years

Lindsay: What tools do you use for meal planning? (Apps, planners, kitchen accessories, etc.)

Heather: I am very unorganized. I go on pinterest and choose the meals I want to make that week from my recipe boards. Then, I screenshot the ingredients and write them all out on a grocery list by section (produce, meat, etc). I usually make breakfasts for the whole week (egg muffins, oatmeal muffins, breakfast casserole, etc) and fruit bowls all at once but I don’t really pre-cook much else unless it’s just a bunch of chicken or roasted veggies. I make those in batches sometimes.

Lindsay: What tips do you recommend for someone just starting meal planning?

Heather: Just start with one week at first! It can be overwhelming if you start off trying to do a month at a time.

Connect with Heather on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Tiffany Wright from Newspaper Ashes

Lindsay: How many people live in your household?

Tiffany: 3

Lindsay: How long have you been meal planning for?

Tiffany: 3 years

Lindsay: What tools do you use for meal planning? (Apps, planners, kitchen accessories, etc.)

Tiffany: Pinterest, printable menus, page markers.

Lindsay: What tips do you recommend for someone just starting meal planning?

Tiffany: It’s easy to get overwhelmed at first, but meal planning isn’t as complicated as you think it is.

Connect with Tiffany on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Are YOU a Meal Planner?

Share YOUR tips in the comments!



Written by Lindsay Satmary

Owner and operator of Paperclips & Confetti, a motherhood + lifestyle blog sharing all the best of #momlife. Lindsay is a mom of 3 (ages 2-7).  Lover of Disney World, office supplies, subscription boxes, and social media. Instagram: @paperclipsandconfetti


  1. Thanks for all these tips. Getting started with meal planning always seems so overwhelming, but I felt reassured after this post mentioned starting with only one week to begin with…thank you!

  2. Things definitely go better when I take the time to meal plan. I’ve been working on trying at least one new recipe a week.

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