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Meal planning will save you time. Its a simple as that, and that is why we do it. One of the big time consuming tasks, that is not always filled with hygge, is getting meals on the table. We love sitting down together as a family, and enjoying meals that are cooked from scratch with ingrediencies that are grown right outside in the garden, but we are also a 21 century family with loads of other things to do. That means that shopping for food, hauling it home and making sure that we have dinner before everyone gets hangry (You know that special kind of angry that shows up when you are hungry?) can be a challenge.

When we started our adventure as a family we didnt worry about meal planning. We lived right next to a grocery store and, at that time, we only had one child. Every day at four o’clock we would start thinking about what we would have for dinner. With that we would look at what we needed to cook a healthy (or not so healthy) dinner. 

Picture of a bag of groceries and a note with the words meal plan

That was a very expensive and very time consuming way to live our lives. Not only the every day trip to the store, but also the every day temptation of buying something that we didn’t need. Man, those supermarkets know how to make you NEED stuff, you never knew existed. 

Why is meal planning important?

Like I mentioned above – meal planning is a way to get away from the daily shopping trips. Doing shopping and dinner prep like that every day, is both expensive, and not as good for the environment, as you will need to drive to the store every day. You could probably have things delivered to your door daily, but lets face it, that’s another habit that is not really consistent with becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Having a meal plan also helps us get variety into our diet. It helps us look at the week with new eyes and see, when do we have time to cook, when would it be convenient with left overs and what other things are on the calendar that is important that we make time for.

How to get started with meal plans

While I would reccomend to anyone that they mealplan and buy in bulk, its not always easy to change your habits. We changed ours ten years ago. We moved to the countryside it was no longer convenient to shop every day. We had to change our habits. The house we moved to was bigger, with a cold room for storing food and shops are now 10 minutes away by car. That lead to meal plans, buying in bulk, smarter cooking, a garden and with that a lot of money saved.

Yes, that is all well and good, Malene, but HOW do I get started. Dont worry – I´ve got you!

Elements of a good meal plan.

There are a few things that you need to consider before you start making your meal plan.

  1. Know what you need to fill out the week
  2. Know what you have on hand
  3. Know what you want to focus on – Healthy? Quick? Kids involved?
  4. Know your week.

Knowing all of the above will help you create a meal plan that will actually work for you and your family.

Know what you need to feed everyone for a week

Before you get started with meal plans I suggest you write down what you eat during the week. This is easier if you look at the meals one at a time. What are you having for breakfast? Write down what every person in your family is having and try to get an overview of how much food you need for your breakfast. Then write down lunches include everything like snacks or drinks. Finally write down your dinners. What are you having remember all of the salads and sides. If you go out a lot try and write down what you’re having.

This list will give you an idea of how much food you need in a week. Maybe your family that only eats three times a day. Or maybe your family that eats five or six times a day. Your meal plan needs to reflect your family.

Know what you have on hand

Knowing the things in your cabbords, pantry and freezer is important. So much food gets left behind because we just buy new things every week. Knowing what we actually have on hand before we start shopping list for the meal plan is essential for us. That paired with the knowledge of what you actually need to feed everyone for a week, you have a really good starting point for what you might need to buy.

Whats your focus of the week?

Now that you have an idea about what you eat in a week try to write down all of the dinners that you can cook by heart.

What are your go to recipes? The recipe is you know that everyone in your family I happy to eat when you make them.

From here on my meal planning technique is quite simple. I write down the days of the week at the top of the page. Then underneath each day I write down what we’re having for dinner. Then I go through each meal in my head and write down all of the ingredients that I need to buy for that meal.

If there is something that we have in the house already I don’t add it to my shopping list.

I try to write down the things that I’m buying in categories. So for instance if we’re having hotdogs I am right down the sausages and one row and the bread in another. That way when I later on come to the lunches and I add the lunch bread I write that in the same row as the bread. This way I can easily get an overview once I’m at the shop of what bread I need to buy. This saves me a lot of running back-and-forth and makes shopping so much easier.

Thats all of my best tips for meal planning. If you have any questions about this please send me a message and I will try and answer.

What is your best meal planning tip??

Until next time,


picture of a meal with the caption - basics of meal planning