Did you know that FNP has a Pinterest page? We have a lot of useful resources on our boards to help you eat smart and move more for better health. And like any good Pinterest page, we have recipes! I personally love using Pinterest to find new recipe ideas and have created a meal planning system around my saved recipes. I’ll show you how I do this and give you tips to personalize the process for your own use.
Save Your Recipes
The first step is to save a collection of recipes that fit your family’s taste preferences and nutritional needs. Set up different boards for different categories of recipes. You can see how VaFNP has arranged our recipes for inspiration. Organizing by season or meal can also work, especially if you have a lot of recipes. This will come in handy when you reach my digital hoarding levels and you’ve saved thousands of recipes (2,583 and counting!). I also use a “This Week’s Menu” board so I can keep all the recipes for the week in a single spot so I don’t have to search for them each night.
Make a Menu-Planning Routine
Meal planning is easier when you have a routine – which meals to plan, how often to shop, menu shortcuts to use, etc. Here’s our basic outline of the steps for meal planning, but feel free to adapt these steps to your needs. I typically shop on Sundays for the upcoming week and I only plan dinner meals (because I eat the same breakfast every day and pack leftovers for lunch). But you can plan your menu based on what works best for your family.
Pick Your Recipes
Here’s the fun part, browsing all your recipes to find meal ideas! I usually start with the entree recipe and round out the meal with any MyPlate food groups that are missing. For example, Bean Enchiladas have whole grains from the tortilla, protein foods from the beans, and dairy foods from the cheese, leaving vegetables and fruit for a balanced meal. So I can add Fresh Salsa to the menu for vegetables and a serving of pineapple chunks for a fruit-based dessert. Bam, 1 meal down, 6 more to go.
I also pay attention to my schedule to pick quick meals, slow cooker recipes, or planned leftovers on days I have something going on after work. If you like to meal prep, you can plan your menu around that, too.
It’s also good to shop your Better Pantry and use any perishable foods early in the week to reduce food waste. Our recipe collection is searchable by ingredient so you can find the perfect recipe for whatever you have on hand. Pinterest also lets you search just your own pins to find recipes you’ve saved, too. You can also use some non-perishable items in your menu and save money on groceries for the week. I like to buy frozen veggies when there’s a sale and use these in my menu until it’s time to stock up again.
How do you normally meal plan, if at all? What are some issues that you’ve run into when trying to get into a meal planning routine? We’re happy to help you problem solve so that you can eat smart with less effort and still save money!