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Where to start when you suck at meal planning

Meal planning is always easier said than done. However, where do you even begin? A complete overhaul NEVER works. It’s just too much work. So if you’re trying to save money, eat better, and not eat out all the time, where do you begin?


As I said above, meal planning saves you money (It saved me over $400 a month), helps you eat better, reduces eating out, helps you lose and maintain weight, saves you time in the kitchen and so much more. Meal planning makes your weeks smoother. It gets dinner on the table faster. It ensures you have plenty of variety so you don’t get bored. (Boredom is the #1 killer of healthy eating habits.)

Meal planning is a must but it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re ready to take the leap, here’s where to start.


#1 Write down what everyone likes to eat right now

Look at what everyone is already eating and write each one on index cards or in a spreadsheet. Once you think you have everything, think of more. Most people eat the same 4 things until they get bored and then start eating out. However, I know that there are at least 16 things that you make at home that all or most people like.

  • Pizza
  • Hotdogs
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Hamburgers
  • Tacos
  • Spaghetti
  • Alfredo chicken pasta
  • Kung Pao Chicken
  • Meatloaf
  • Grilled chicken
  • Taquitos
  • PB&J
  • Pancakes (breakfast for dinner)

You get the idea. Write them all down and have them cataloged in some say. Right there you already can pick 5 meals a week and rotate through them to prevent boredom.

#2 Now, add to what you know everyone already likes to eat

Now, most people when trying to eat better remove all the “bad” food. This isn’t a good way to go. Instead of taking away all your family’s favorite meals, add healthy stuff in. For example:

  • Do roasted broccoli with your spaghetti.
  • Add a side salad (and dressing) with your pizza.
  • Add a baked potato to your steak instead of fries.
  • Fry up zucchini fritters instead of potato cakes.
  • Do peas with your corndogs.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Um….corndogs aren’t healthy. Why would I continue to feed those to my family?! 

Here’s why: You want to develop habits that will stick. Completely removing everyone’s favorite foods only sets up the household (and yourself) for failure. People feel deprived. That is the last thing you want. Instead, focus on adding vegetables in and eating them first. (If you save them for last they don’t get eaten, trust me 😉 )

#3 Be Flexible

The mistake many people make is that they make the meal plan, buy all the things, but then on Wednesday, they don’t want spaghetti. Pizza sounds wayyyyy better. But they didn’t plan it for that day, so they just give up and throw in the towel. “Meal planning didn’t work!” 

Instead of being rigid, plan your meals that sound good to everyone, buy all the ingredients, have the meals on day for the sake of sanity and everyone in the house knowing what is on the menu but if you want a meal on a different day……you have permission to move things around.

Who cares if you have tacos on Monday instead of Tuesday?! It’s okay to be flexible and still eat everything you bought for the week. If you find you consistently aren’t in the mood for one particular meal, throw that meal card away. Obviously it’s not a favorite and you’re wasting your money.

These tips have proven successful for hundreds of people over the years and I know they’ll help you be successful too. Which one is your favorite? Let me know!

If you’re looking for someone to do all the hard work for you and make eating healthy a million times easier, check out my Meal Planning Made Easy program.

Where to start when you suck at meal planning



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About Us

Hi friend!

I’m Marian Mitchell, Health Coach, Chronic Illness Warrior, Mom, and Food Lover. I help you navigate the food and lifestyle side of Chronic Disease Management with coaching, meal plans, recipes, podcast, and this blog. You can thrive without eating the same 4 things every day. I’m here to show you how.

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