Organizing Your Meal Planning


By Amy Bergman, Amyzing Spaces

As a professional organizer, I help declutter and organize a lot of pantries, refrigerators and cabinets. While working with my clients in these kitchen spaces, the conversation quite often turns to meal planning. Many of them would love to get on the ‘Meal Planning Train” but feel challenged or overwhelmed by the notion—and I tell them, you don’t need to be. Instead of thinking about it wholistically, as creating a week worth’s of meals and snacks, let’s break down meal planning to three simple steps: selecting recipesshopping for ingredients, and prepping your meals. These steps might seem pretty obvious, but each one of them is critical. 

Before we get started, let me answer, “what is meal planning?”. Quite simply, it is the act of figuring out what you are preparing and serving for your meals a week at a time. Meal planning does solve many problems like time management and sticking to a grocery budget, but the best thing it does is it answers the daily “what’s for dinner?” question. So, I have broken it all down for you below and  I have also  designed a meal planning and shopping list to help you get started. 

Begin thinking about your meal plan at least three days before you want to give it a go so you have a few days to go through the full process of making a shopping list, shopping, and then prepping. This is typically on a Friday. 

Next, follow these steps: 

Check the calendar: Since our schedules can change every week, it’s important to look at the week ahead and see what you have planned already. Do you have any work meals, dinner dates, or happy hours to plan around? What about the kids’ schedules? What nights will you actually be home at dinner time? How many lunches do you need to pack? Are there nights/days when you will have guests or visitors staying with you? Do you want to schedule one night a week to order in or eat out? 

Choose Your Recipes: Choosing your recipes puts the philosophy of meal planning and the reasons why you’re doing it into action. It is most critical step since it sets this whole process in motion. As mentioned above, make sure you are aligning your meals with the schedule. For example, maybe a slow cooker meal that you set and forget in the morning is better for the evening where you will be strolling into home around dinner time with no opportunity for prepping anything. What mornings can you anticipate being tight on time where leftovers from the night before would be easier to grab than packing up a lunch in the morning?

Below are some tips on recipe selection:

  • Choose meals that guarantee you with leftovers: They’re the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Pick recipes based on common ingredients: This starts with looking at what you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Shopping your home kitchen can help you decide on recipes and avoid wasted food. This is the money-saving aspect of meal planning in full effect. An example of this would be ground beef for taco night that could also be used for meat sauce on Italian night. 
  • Cook things your family really likes: Ask everyone for their top three favorite dinners or lunches and see what they have to say. 
  • Still need some ideas? There are so many online resources available with great meal ideas. Here is one on Pinterest.

Post Your Plan: Once you have decided on a plan for the week, find a place in your kitchen to display the meal plan for the week so everyone knows what to expect. This is also an opportunity to discuss who can help execute the plan each day. Who will be home the earliest and can start prepping? Who gets up the earliest in the morning and can start the coffee or packing the lunches?

Take Stock: Make an inventory list of what your stock in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator (this is different than your grocery list). Some are able to make a mental note, others need to physically write it down for reference. With time, you may be able to intuitively know what you always have, what you are low on, and what inventory needs to be restocked. This will also help you create your grocery shopping list. It also helps if your pantry and refrigerator are organized so that it’s easy to see what you have and to retrieve your items. Working with a professional organizer (like me 😉) can help with this. 

Make the grocery list: Referring to your inventory list and the recipes for the meals you are planning to make, write down all the ingredients and items you will need for the coming week. Begin by grouping ingredients together by departments in the grocery store (dairy, frozen, produce, etc.). Take it a step further and put those sections in order of how you like to shop whine in the store. Some like to leave the frozen section for the end, and swing by the deli and meat department first if you want them to slice up meat for you or separate a package of chicken breast — all things your grocery store butcher certainly can and will do. You can also mobile order your deli items so they will be waiting for you. Pro tip: Don’t forget to take your grocery tote bags with you before you head to the store!

Spend an hour on Sunday prepping and resetting your kitchen: You picked your recipe, you made a grocery list, you shopped for the meals, and now you’ve come to the point where the plan truly becomes the meals. Taking one hour (or less) to do some of the prep work for your meals will make all the difference. What can you pre-chop and set aside in the refrigerator? What produce can be pre-washed? Taking care of these steps on Sunday will make “Tuesday you” less rushed and happier. Also, take some time to walk around your kitchen, what needs to be put back in its place? How can you tidy up and reset for the week? What items need to be refilled like the coffee canaster or sugar bowl? Are the lunchboxes, food containers, travel mugs and water bottles clean?

And that’s it! Meal planning may seem like a lot of steps, but it can truly make your week much less hectic and meal time much more enjoyable! Maybe you want to start small by planning just lunches for the week instead of for every meal. Once you get the hang of it, I promise it will save you time and money (because you are only buying what you are going to actually prep and eat). It’s also a great opportunity to try out new recipes and cuisines. By incorporating meal planning into your routine, you will bring more joy into your kitchen and dining rooms. It will be Amyzing!




Amyzing Spaces provides professional organization for your home & office! Amy Bergman (pictured above), a native Floridan living in Wellington, has always had a passion for organizing & simplifying things in life. She has always been obsessed with creating and organizing functional spaces, and recently turned her hobby and passion into her profession. She is a member of NAPO (the National Association of Productivity & Organizing) and has several certifications in various areas of the field from them.
She would love to help you make your space Amyzing!!! Check out her website at, also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.