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6 Habits of Successful Meal Planners

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How do people get so good at planning their meals?? These tips for meal planning will help you get on track and stay there!

Do you ever sit and wonder exactly what it is that makes people so good at meal planning? They seem to know exactly what to buy, what to make for dinner, and how to make food work for them in general. How do they do this???

I thought about it for awhile and was able to come up with 6 habits that successful meal planners use each week to feed their families good food AND save money in the process. These tips for meal planning will hopefully inspire you if you’re stuck:

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Meal planners stay consistent every week

This might be the most important habit, so I’m putting this one right at the top. It can be hard to get into a habit of doing something. But once you do it multiple times you’re golden.

I’ve been keeping up with meal planning every week for 8 years. If I try to skip even one week, everything falls apart. I won’t know what to make for dinner that night and I’ll stress out. Then I’ll beg John to take us out somewhere.

Set aside a small chunk of time every week (an hour at the most) and commit to meal planning during that time. You’ll be surprised at how much calmer you’ll feel knowing what you’re eating that week!

See: Meal Planning for Beginners

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They keep track of their spending

I don’t know about you, but I feel more in control of my life when I see where my money’s going. Having a budget has kept us accountable in more ways than one, and a grocery budget is probably the biggest thing I track.

You can organize your spending in a few ways. One is to keep an envelope with cash that you use just for groceries. When it runs out you’re out of luck until you can fill it again.

Another way is to use an app to keep track of how much you spend on your debit card. We use Goodbudget, which is basically a digital envelope system. All the money is in our checking account but we have it “divided” into sections in Goodbudget. When I buy groceries, I enter it into the app and the app will tell me how much more I can spend. It’s been a real life-saver!

See: How We Use Goodbudget as Our Envelope System

Image of a filled pantry

They know what’s in their pantry

Making “free” meals from your pantry is a skill everyone should learn. It’s easy to do- as long as you have a way of knowing what’s in your pantry at all times.

The best meal planners keep an inventory- whether it’s a paper they tape to their pantry door or freezer, or an app like Out of Milk that you can digitally update when you add or remove foods.

This actually takes a lot of discipline to keep up with every week, which is why I put “being consistent” at the very top of the list. You can’t make amazing meals without knowing what you have!

Image of scrambled eggs with vegetables and a dish of pineapple

They turn food waste into new meals

How many times have you thrown away a little bit of shredded chicken because you no longer had salad mix to eat it with? Or that last cup of raw carrot sticks because you had no use for it?

Successful meal planners know how to use those odds and ends to create unique and delicious meals. That chicken will be scrambled up with some eggs to make a huge, protein-filled breakfast. And the carrots will be roasted with the zucchini she bought for a roasted veggie medley.

See: How to Use Your Pantry to Create FREE Meals!

Image of bags filled with freezer meals

They utilize their freezer

Meal planners know a good sale when they see one. And if food is the right price, they’ll buy as much as they can afford to freeze for later.

If chicken breasts are usually $1.88 per pound and right now they’re $1.29 per pound, that’s going to be a huge savings! Most foods freeze very well, so buying all that chicken won’t go to waste.

Successful meal planners also make freezer meals here and there to make sure they have breakfast for the week, or an emergency dinner for when things happen. Being prepared really gives you peace about the future!

If you’ve been wanting to fill your freezer, be sure to check out the freezer meal plans I have available!

Image of pizza bagels

They keep things simple

Finally, meal planners don’t make things any more complicated than they need to. Their meals need to be easy to cook because they’re crunched for time; anything that requires 10-12 ingredients may not make it on their list.

They don’t eat the exact same meals every week, but you can tell there’s a theme going on. There’s always a Mexican dish, a pasta dish, breakfast for dinner… having a system in place to help streamline their meal planning totally saves their lives.


These 6 habits ensure that you’ll stay on track with your meal planning, save money on groceries, and eat good food every week! You won’t be perfect at it- nobody is- but following these habits will help set you up for success!

Which of these habits do you follow, or which do you wish you could be better at? Leave a comment and let me know!

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