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What’s for Dinner? How to Meal Plan Weekly to Save Time

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How do you feel around 5 PM when someone asks, “What’s for dinner?”

Are you confident because you know you have both the time and ingredients on hand to prepare it… OR you do you stress out cuz you hadn’t thought about it… and have nothing thawed and little time.

Growing up, a friend of mine went straight to my kitchen counter and exclaimed, “I know exactly what you’re having every night for dinner this week!”…cuz my mom had a neatly written notecard with the days of the week and the meals she had planned. 

“Well yeah,” I responded, “Doesn’t everyone know what’s for dinner?”

Apparently NOT…which is why so many women end up at the checkout counter, in the carry out line or with the cereal box in hand around 5:15 pm. 

Not only does not having a weekly meal plan cost you valuable time, it also costs you money…and potentially your health!  

If we are to glorify Him in all things, including what we put in our mouth, doesn’t it make sense that we make the best use of our time in doing it?  

THE PROBLEM:  Having NO PLAN till 5 pm or deciding each day wastes time deciding, finding ingredients, running to store, catering to everyone’s orders…and when you’re experiencing decision fatigue at this time of day, it’s easy to default to comfort, convenience, carry out…or cereal.

THE SOLUTION: Having a WEEKLY MEAL PLAN eliminates making decisions based on how you feel in the moment…that will save time and money that you can invest in your wellness & relationships with those you share a meal.

The WHAT + WHEN of a Weekly Meal Plan


  • What does your week hold?  Do you have time to sit down or does it need to be grab-and-go? Will you be home for lunch or need to pack ahead? Do you have time to bake in the oven or need to quickly reheat?  Not every meal has to be a production…so base it on what your week holds.
  • What mouths are you feeding? In this season is it just you, you + spouse, you + spouse + others living under your roof?  Don’t become a short order cook making one meal for others and another for yourself. What meals do you and others enjoy?  What can you do to make them adaptable for everyone?
  • What meals are in alignment with your wellness goals? Are you paying attention to what you put in your mouth?  Consider your wellness goals- is it losing weight, building muscle, gaining energy, or something else?  Do your research or connect with a wellness coach like Michelle on Treasured Wellness 
  • What ingredients or staples do you need to have on hand?  Since the basics will most likely be on repeat, make a reusable list then add special ingredients each week. Consider choosing 2-3 Breakfast/Lunch ideas + 5-10 Dinner ideas to rotate, then make a notecard for each with ingredients on the back to make it easy.


  • When will you block off time to Meal Plan for the week? If it’s not scheduled, it’s not that it won’t happen…but it will be more frustrating cuz it will be easy to put off. Decide when you will preview + plan out your meals for the week. If you keep it simple and create a system, you should be able to do it all in 30 min.
  • When will you shop for your groceries? Will you push a cart, pick up with Instacart, or set up delivery?  Will you restock once a week or more?  The less often the better cuz you’ll save time and money running to the store.  Get specific about the day and time and keep it consistent. 
  • When will you preview the day to prep or make adjustments? Each day (or the night before) you’ll need to thaw, chop, marinate or prep, so when will you look ahead to be ready? You may realize plans changed and don’t have the time you thought…so previewing will allow you to adjust your plan before 5 pm. 

Like I teach my REDEEM Her Time students, any RECURRING TASK needs to have a ROUTINE…

So since you gotta eat 3 times a day (or more), let’s get to work customizing a Meal Plan Routine for this Season in YOUR life…

5 Steps to Create a Meal Plan Routine

  1.  IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM. Notice where you are experiencing friction or frustration around meals…Is it on certain days or times in your week? Is it around specific meal plan needs? Is it coming from multiple mouths with different taste buds? Is it due to too many on-the-go evenings? Is it something else?  Answer the question: WHAT is the problem you are running into related to meals?
  1. UNCOVER THE ROOT. Now that you can see the problem, look deeper to discover what’s really the issue…Is it not blocking off time to plan ahead? Is it not having the ingredients you need on hand? Is it too many cooks (aka opinions) in the kitchen?  Is it laziness or gluttony or something else? Answer the question: WHY am I having this problem?
  1. PLAN THE STEPS.  Once you know where things are breaking down and why, think about what series of steps would make meals run smoothly…Start with your breakfast/lunch/dinner options and make sure you have easy access to their ingredients.  Next, make  a preprinted list with the staples you need on a weekly basis to check off along with additional ingredients for the week. Last, decide how you will shop (in-person or on-line).  Add any other steps that would make the process of meal planning flow smoothly for you.
  1. BLOCK THE TIME. If it’s not planned, it likely won’t happen….so the next step is blocking a time to meal plan. When in your week will you commit to doing that (ideally before the week begins)? When will you plan to shop and pick up/receive delivery?  When you make it a consistent time each week…then you won’t have to scramble at the last minute cuz you no longer don’t have a plan!
  1. INVITE THE SUPPORT. If it’s just you at home in this season, it’s all on you, which in some ways makes it easy.  But if you’ve got a spouse, kids or extended family under your roof, you might want to invite them to be part of the planning, the pick up, the prep or the clean up…there’s no reason you need to be the only one in the kitchen. And chances are, they’ll enjoy being part of the decision process and willing to take some of the load off your shoulders.

YEAH!  Now a question you need to answer daily (aka “What’s for dinner?”) will no longer send you hiding in the closet or wandering the freezer aisle.  

And instead of wasting time trying to decide in the moment or in the morning, you’ll have all that wasted time, money and energy back to invest in what really matters like your wellness and relationships with those you love and share a meal with.

I can’t wait to hear- How will this simple routine for something that happens on the daily make your time and life more efficient?


What’s 1 WHAT or WHEN you’ll include in your meal plan routine to make things easier? 

Come join the conversation with other like-minded Christian women in midlife inside the REDEEM Her Time Community  

And since you take the time to fuel your body each day, why not refill your body, mind & spirit each day too?  Grab the free FILL YOUR CUP FIRST GUIDE…cuz you can’t pour from an empty cup.

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