Sticking to your diet and eating yummy food don’t just happen on their own, trust me. If you’re here because you want to know the best way to meal plan, then you’re in the right place!
I’ve just finished my meal plan and grocery list for the coming week. What’s on the menu? Citrus oven-roasted chicken, curry in a hurry, tuna bake, broccoli salad, chicken and cauliflower casserole, and lemon butter shrimp.
So why do I sit down once a week and do this? Because it makes life sooooo much easier and helps me stick to a healthy eating plan. I’ve found that a little planning goes a very long way here:
- It saves money because I only buy what I need on my list and nothing goes to waste, so I have more freedom money in my pocket
- I don’t buy food I want to avoid on my diet – if it isn’t in the house, I can’t eat it!
- We don’t get takeaways when there’s good, tasty food in the house
- I never waste time wondering what to make for dinner because I have a healthy meal plan ready
- I mix things up (fish, chicken, beef, pork), so we get a lot of variety and never get bored
- I can cook some meals in advance, freeze them, and have them ready to eat on busy days
- Mr Tiara Tribe and I can share shopping trips because we know exactly what groceries to get
It took a little time to set up, but now that my system is in place I spend about 10 minutes planning my meals and groceries for the week. It’s totally worth it and makes the world of difference in how I eat and feel for the rest of the week.
I use a very affordable recipe manager (about $20 once off) and Pinterest to do all this.
You will need to get the Paprika recipe manager to follow this meal plan system. There’s a free trial and it can be loaded onto any device – Android, Apple, Windows, etc. I have saved so much on groceries with this app that it has paid for itself many times over. If you really use it, it’s worth the small upfront investment.
First set up the meal plan system
Save recipes that you like on Pinterest. I save my recipes to my Yummies board (you will see that I mostly follow a keto or primal diet). You could even follow a few Pinterest boards that have recipes for your diet and save recipes to Paprika directly from there.
To set up Paprika, click on the Main Menu in the top-left corner. Select Recipes, then click Add in the Categories column.
Here you can add all the categories you want to save your recipes under. I use the following categories:
When you have some free time and you want to file your recipes from Pinterest into categories, open Paprika. Click on Browser in the Main Menu in the top-left corner.
Copy the www website links (urls) from the recipes in your Pinterest board into the Paprika browser. Click enter, so the recipe loads. Now click Save Recipe in the bottom-right corner of Paprika.
The recipe will load with a picture of the food, the number of servings, a list of ingredients and cooking instructions. Add anything that doesn’t load automatically (some websites are difficult for Paprika to read without a little help).
Remember to always put the recipe into a category or several categories before saving it, otherwise you will struggle to find it later. To do this there is a gray button called Categories by the recipe info.
Now make sure you save it by pressing Save in the bottom-right corner.
Save a few recipes that you like and want to try. Your choice will grow over time, as you save more. If you try something and you don’t like, you can just delete it.
If you try a recipe and you really like it, you can give it five stars as a rating so you know how much you liked it. This is a great paperless system – I used to have a recipe file full of tatty stained papers that was very difficult to manage.
You’re all set up!
Then plan your meals
You can plan your meals as far in advance as you want. We only have one small fridge and tiny freezer at the moment, so I can only do this a week in advance as I can’t store much food.
To make a meal plan, open the Meals tab under the main menu. Click on a recipe you want in the far-right column and drag it into the calendar in the middle. Drag over all the recipes that you want in your meal plan. I just save everything under one date as I want to keep things simple.
Once you have all the recipes in the calendar for your meal plan, select them all by clicking on the top one, pressing the Shift key and clicking on the bottom recipe.
Now click Actions at the top of the page, then Add to grocery list. A grocery list will pop up. Uncheck any ingredients you already have at home that you don’t need to buy. Once you’re happy with the grocery list, click Add.
Now click on Groceries under the Main Menu. You will see that all ingredients from the same grocery store section have been grouped together, to make shopping much easier. You can visit the dairy section at the store and buy all your dairy products together because they are together on your shopping list. The same goes for meat and vegetables and other similar foods.
Add any other items that you want to buy that won’t be in your recipes, such as coffee or toiletries.
I edit the ingredients on my grocery list so that I have the full number to buy with each item. So, instead of 2 eggs from one recipe and 3 eggs from another, I delete one entry by right-clicking and deleting it. Then I double click on the second entry and edit it – here I would make it 5 eggs. This makes the list shorter and easier to use.
Then click Actions and Print. Voila! Your grocery list prints itself.
If you really want to make life even simpler, order these groceries from an online store. We don’t have any great delivery services here, so I go to the Saturday morning markets or stores myself.
The food’s bought, now to cook!
When you want to cook a meal, open Paprika and go to the Meals in the Main Menu. I use my tablet in the kitchen when I want to cook something, so I have the instructions right there with me.
Click on the recipe you want to cook and it pops up. Follow the instructions and enjoy a tasty meal – all without any stress.
The more you use this system the more you will love it. It really is the best way to meal plan, at least the best one I’ve found.
The first time will take a little work, but once you know how to do this you won’t look back. I’ve tried going to the shops and blindly buying food, which just doesn’t work for me: I forget a lot of things, throw away a lot of food, and don’t like the effort of thinking what to cook every night.
This meal planning has made a huge difference and helps me eat healthy meals with Mr Tiara Tribe every night. We also experiment with new meals and flavors all the time. He loves it too!