Don’t Make These 5 Meal Planning Mistakes

Managing your diet can be tricky. But you don’t have to go it alone! Learn how other people make meal planning mistakes and avoid them next time.

The “best meal planning ideas” is a blog post that lists 5 mistakes people make when they are trying to plan meals. The article also provides solutions to the problems.

Don't Make These 5 Meal Planning Mistakes

Here are five meal-planning blunders to avoid–and what to do instead to succeed!


This article was created in collaboration with the Healthy Family Project.

Is meal planning something that, in principle, sounds appealing? Something you’ve tried but never finished? Something you think is more suited to other, more organized moms–the ones who have color-coded calendars and label makers?

I understand. I tried and failed at meal planning many times until I discovered a strategy that worked for me. Looking back, I see how I destroyed my good intentions by making a few major mistakes.

5 Meal Preparation Errors

Ignoring your calendar is mistake number one.

Have you ever puzzled why you scheduled a time-consuming, intricate meal on the same evening as an hour-long primary school talent show? I’ve done it! As a result, I always begin with the calendar. Any meal plan might seem appealing on paper, but it will only work if it is tailored to your family’s daily routine.

Instead, while planning your week, have your calendar in front of you. Knowing what each day has in store for you determines the kind of meals you can prepare. Do you want to spend your Sunday relaxing? It’s a fantastic day for a hearty breakfast and a slow-cooked pot roast for supper. Is it possible to combine a late-night business meeting with piano lessons? Takeout or reheating leftovers seem like a nice idea for tonight.

Mistake #2: Failing to make use of what you currently have.

Once you’ve figured out what kinds of meals would work for each day, start with what you have on hand. Cramming fresh goods into an already overflowing pantry and finding (expensive) forgotten things in the depths of the fridge may make you feel unorganized and wasteful–and food waste is terrible for the earth as a source of greenhouse gas.

Instead, while creating your meal plan, start by focusing on the foods you already have on hand, then add supporting goods to your purchase list. Plan a Snack Plate Dinner to empty out your fridge if you have a haphazard mix of odds and ends.


Mistake #3: Trying to accomplish everything at once.

There’s no need to be a perfectionist here. Nobody gets a gold medal for meal planning or cooking seven evenings a week. Remember that ill kids, last-minute invites, and terrible days may all disrupt food plans. It’s simply a fact of life.

Instead, ask yourself, “Where do you have a problem?” If it’s supper, skip breakfast and lunch and plan solely your meals for the week. If you’re having trouble with lunches, concentrate on them instead. And don’t be afraid to start small, with only a few of plans every week, and develop from there. Roll with it if your meal plan goes off the tracks, knowing that you can start it up again the next day.

#4: Adopting someone else’s strategy.

Meal plans with seven nutritionally balanced, gastronomically inspired meals seem like a dream come true to us. Yes, recipe ideas are fantastic. However, don’t expect someone else’s meticulous plan to work for you–or that your family will like all of the meals on it.

Instead, collect cooking ideas (who doesn’t need a change of pace?). However, don’t forget about the dishes that your family currently enjoys. There’s no shame in listening to old favorites on a weekly basis.

Mistake #5: Starting from the beginning each week.

Trying to conjure up seven days’ worth of meals while staring at a blank paper might be daunting. As a result, you’re more inclined to skip the entire thing and just wing it.

Instead, start your week’s food plan by include a few “Dinner Anchors.” Those are no-brainer, simple-to-prepare dinners like “Leftovers,” “Take-Out,” “Breakfast For Dinner,” or my personal favorite, “Scrounge Night,” when we select items from the refrigerator and everyone eats something different. Scrounge Night is almost every Friday night around here!


Take My No-Cost Dinner-Preparation Challenge

If deciding what to eat for dinner is one of your least favorite parts of the day, I urge you to participate in my free 5-day Dinner Planning Challenge. We’ll concentrate on developing some fundamental skills that will aid in deciphering the dinner-planning code. You’ll leave with a one-week supper menu and a plan for keeping going! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.  

Healthy Family Project is the name of my partner.

I am presently the official dietitian for Healthy Family Project, a cause marketing group devoted to making the next generation healthy. They’ve raised more than $7 million for children and families since its inception in 2002 by Shuman Farms. They collaborate closely with Feeding America and other national nonprofits that help children and families.

This article was written as part of their annual Mission for Nutrition campaign, which aims to encourage families to eat better and understand the need of meal planning. You can get their free meal planning e-cookbook, which includes six quick meal prep recipes as well as a shopping list, here. You may also enroll in free virtual cooking lessons taught by certified dietitians from all across the nation.


“Don’t Make These 5 Meal Planning Mistakes” is a blog post that outlines the mistakes people make when they plan their meals. The author offers solutions to these errors. Reference: easy recipes for meal planning.

  • meal planner ideas
  • meal planning guide
  • meal prep you actually want to eat
  • meal prep that actually tastes good
  • best way to store recipes