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What's for dinner? Does this question come up every night?

As the fall season approaches and the aroma of freshly baked apple pies fills the air, or perhaps as your kids settle into their school routines with after-school activities and playdates, the challenge of mealtime may start to loom large on your daily agenda. For many of us, the key to maintaining order and sanity in our lives lies in the art of meal planning and preparation. It's not just about convenience; it's about ensuring that nourishing, delicious meals are always within reach, even on the busiest of days.

I've got food allergies, and I'm pretty much always in the kitchen whipping up gluten-free and dairy-free goodies. Having a meal plan is a total game-changer for me. I've been curious if anyone else is into meal planning too. That's when I thought about my super-organized friend and decided to hit her up for some tips on how she manages to make delicious and healthy meals while juggling work and family life. It turns out she's a pro at weekend meal planning! I knew that she prioritized her meal planning on the weekends, but I learned that she even went above and beyond to organize her kitchen too. She shared her secrets with me, and I was so inspired.I learned that it's not as tough as it seems, and it really saves a ton of time on the weekdays. Continue reading and check out the video of how one busy working mom plans her meals for the week. 

Also, in this blog, I'll delve into the world of meal planning and food preparation, offering tips, tricks, and insights to make your culinary journey more manageable and enjoyable. So, whether you're a seasoned meal preparer or just embarking on this organized meal planning challenge, join me as I explore the wonderful world of planning and preparing meals. I am betting you wonder if there are any benefits to meal planning in the first place. Knowing how crazy busy life can get, adding another chore is just more work. Will planning in advance really help save time, save money, and reduce stress?


Meal planning can be a game-changer when it comes to organizing your meals, saving time, and making healthier choices. Many people struggle with the constant need to decide what to eat, resulting in frustration and poor dietary decisions. However, by implementing a meal planning system, you can alleviate these pain points and enjoy the numerous benefits it offers. In this blog post, we will explore five key points that highlight the advantages of meal planning: time-saving, cost-effectiveness, emotional well-being, avoiding guesswork, and environmental consciousness. Let's dive in!


One of the primary benefits of meal planning is the time it saves in various aspects of your life. By creating a master list of ingredients for your favorite recipes, you eliminate the need to think about and make a grocery list every week. This not only reduces mental effort but also streamlines your shopping experience. With a well-structured meal plan for the week, you can minimize trips to the grocery store, saving valuable time. Additionally, planning ahead allows for batch cooking and meal prep, enabling you to freeze meals and conveniently enjoy them during busier days.

Saving Money:

Meal planning is not only a time-saver but also a money-saver. When you plan your meals in advance, you avoid unnecessary purchases and reduce food waste. By utilizing a comprehensive shopping list based on your planned meals, you can stick to what you need, avoiding impulse buys. This practice ensures that you make the most of the ingredients you already have, preventing them from expiring and going to waste. By reducing food waste and making conscious choices, you contribute to a more sustainable environment while also saving money on grocery bills and dining-out expenses.

Emotional Well-being:

The impact of meal planning extends beyond practicality and financial benefits. It also has a positive effect on your emotional well-being. By having a meal plan in place, you can significantly reduce stress. Even the simplest step, like taking out meat to thaw for dinner, brings a sense of preparedness and eliminates the daily question of "what's for dinner." Knowing your choices in advance and being organized in your approach can alleviate stress and create a sense of calmness in your daily routine.

Avoiding Guesswork:

Meal planning eliminates the need for guesswork and last-minute decisions when it comes to your meals. By taking inventory of what you already have, you can maximize your pantry and refrigerator contents, saving money in the process. Store flyers can provide excellent deals, and you can incorporate these offers into your meal planning, making the most of discounted items. Additionally, by planning meals that use common ingredients, you can streamline your cooking process and avoid repetitive shopping trips. Stick to your planned list to resist the temptation of impulse purchases, and explore alternative options on the top and bottom shelves for more affordable choices.

Environmental Consciousness:

Meal planning also promotes environmental consciousness by addressing food waste and its impact. By reducing food waste through effective planning, you contribute to sustainability efforts. Certain foods require more energy to produce and result in higher environmental footprints. By making conscious choices and planning meals around ingredients with lower environmental impacts, you can minimize your ecological footprint. Additionally, being aware of the packaging and transportation processes involved in food production can guide you toward more environmentally friendly choices.

Here are a few helpful tips that make meal planning easier:

To make sure you don't make the mistake of buying something you already have, take pictures of your pantry(s), refrigerator(s), and freezer(s) the day before or the morning of shopping. When in doubt while shopping, just pull out your phone and look at the pictures

Tip: make a master list of meals that your family loves separated by protein, main ingredient or category: chicken, beef, soup, new to try, etc.  I will do a monthly inventory of the deep freezer and pantry and go from there.  Also, Instant Pots are lifesavers!

Create a binder and fill it with recipes that you like. You can write them down or print them out to include as a reference for meals you enjoy. Over time, you will build up a great collection of recipes and meal inspiration.


Implementing a meal planning system offers numerous benefits that go beyond mere convenience. By saving time and money and reducing stress, meal planning enhances your overall well-being and organizational skills. With a structured plan in place, you eliminate guesswork and have more control over your meals. Moreover, meal planning encourages environmental consciousness, enabling you to make sustainable choices that align with your values. So, why not embrace the power?

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Blog post by Elizabeth Lulu Miranda: Lulu has been working as a home and office organizer in Chicago for over 15 years. She brings new perspectives on how to have an organized life. Writing for the Mercury Organizing blog “Create the Flow" and her personal blog “What would Lulu Do?"

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