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How to create a weekly family meal plan (that actually works)

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Are you looking for helpful tips to create a weekly family meal plan? You’ve come to the right place! It’s time to take back your evenings and stop standing in front of the refrigerator, hoping it tells you what to make. Unfortunately, it never answers back, no matter how many times you ask, “what should I cook?” 

Planning and organization are the keys to success in the kitchen, and let me  tell you that a streamlined meal plan is achievable. It will save you time, money, and dare I say it –  you may even enjoy the process. It’s totally doable so read on to find out how.

Why meal planning is a must for busy moms

Meeal planning tips for busy moms

Meal planning eliminates the worry of what to feed your family every day because, let’s be honest, no one has time for that! You have work to do, kids to shuttle to activities, and goals to achieve. Prepping and cooking dinner should not be a concern and, with a meal plan, it won’t be.

1. A weekly family meal plan saves you time

Once you’ve created your weekly meal plan, you know exactly what to shop forYou will not waste time at the supermarket thinking of the items you need to make up a dish you made a month ago. That does happen when you need to get dinner together quickly, does it?

2.A weekly family meal plan saves you money

This method will teach you how to use up any food you have on hand before it goes bad. I know we all have the best intentions when we shop for a healthy meal plan for families, but it always seems to go awry by the middle of the week. With this method, you can say goodbye to food waste. After all, that food costs money and, when you waste less food, you save more money.

3.A weekly family meal plan helps you reduce food waste

This method will teach you how to use up any food you have on hand before it goes bad. I know we all have the best intentions when we shop for a healthy meal plan for families, but it always seems to go awry by the middle of the week. With this method, you can say goodbye to food waste. After all, that food costs money and, when you waste less food, you save more money.

Get your Meal planner to help you get the handle on meal planning once and for all. Just click the graphic and in no time at all, it will be winging its way to your inbox.

Weekly meal plan sign up form

A weekly family meal plan encourages healthy eating habits

When you make up your meal plan, you become more intentional with your food choices. For example, you ensure that you serve a salad, a protein and a side portion of veggies.

Benefits of meal planning

Meal planning ideas for families

If you’re new to meal planning, it  can be daunting. I get it! Here is a step by step guide on making a family  meal plan that  will actually stick. It won’t take you hours to create, I promise!

The focus of this post is a weekly dinner meal plan. But you still need to sort out breakfast, school lunches and an after school snack or two.

I’ve sourced these super helpful videos to shorten your planning for breakfasts, lunches. and snacks.

Breakfast ideas

This YouTube video by 5-Minute Crafts GIRLY  gives you 36 different ideas to use for quick and easy breakfasts.

Add your breakfast choices to your Weekly Meal Planner. 

Related content:

10 Easy Fruit Smoothie Recipes for a Healthy Start to the Day

Lunch ideas

Here’s an awesome YouTube video that will help you cope with the pickiest of kids.

Enter your lunch items on your Weekly Meal Planner. 

Related content:

15 Budget Friendly Meals your Family will Absolutely Love

Healthy Snack Ideas

This YouTube video by Tasty gives you the inside scoop on quick and easy in-betweeners to add your meal plan.

Related content:

15 Insanely Healthy Summer Snacks for Teens on the Go

The Meal Planning Process

If you’re new to meal planning, you need to be guided through the process. Read on to get special tips to make you a meal planning ninja in not time at all.

1. Prepare To Plan

  • Go through the fridge and note all the vegetables you need to use up fast.
  • Go through your family’s calendar to see the schedule for the next week so you can  gauge the time you have to prepare and cook each night. Have a late meeting or practice? Mark it down on the appropriate day. 
  • Write a list of your family’s favourite meals.
  • Print out all the recipes you intend to use in this weekly meal plan.

2 .Fill out your Weekly Family Meal Plan

 

Now start to fill out your printable with your meal choices:

First, pick a day towards the end of the week for leftovers.

Next, think of one meal that everyone likes to eat. Make it  your anchor meal. Every week we have taco Tuesday. You can choose breakfast for dinner, pizza Friday, stir fry Monday, whatever you like—having one set meal takes away the pressure of having to plan so much. Add an anchor meal, and boom, you have another day planned!

Now, start filling your plan with meals from your family favourites bearing in mind the time you have to cook. 

For the other five days, one option is to create meals around your vegetables and leftovers. The key to healthy meal planning on a budget is to work around your vegetables. You are more likely to eat and enjoy veggies when they are the star of the meal. 

Another option is to add anchor days like Wednesday curry or a Saturday grill. 

Fill in each day in this way.

 

3. Time to Grocery Shop

It’s time to create a shopping list. I hope you are still in the kitchen because it’s essential. As you go through the recipes on your plan, check to see if you have the necessary ingredients before adding them to your list. Don’t skip this step as it is a big cost saving. There is no need to buy something if you already have it on hand.

There you have it! You have successfully created a meal plan and a grocery list for the week. 

Meal Planning Tips for Families

Start themed anchor meals

Some examples are:

  • Mom’s day off
  • Kids cook up
  • Mexican Tuesdays
  • Italian Sundays
  • Pizza Wednesdays
  • Meat free Mondays

Go a little over the top with table decor to match the theme and ass some spice to the dinner so everyone looks forward to it.  After a while, these themed meals become a family tradition.

 

Ramp up your leftover meals

Leftovers are almost a dirty word in some homes. Eating the same dinner night after night can be monotonous. It’s time to repurpose leftovers! Grains can be thrown in a salad, meats can be chopped to make burritos, the options are endless.

Need more motivation to use up leftovers? Think of the cost of the food you are throwing out. Money is tougher to toss out than food.

This post gives you a list of aps that give you recipe ideas and tips to use up your leftovers.

weekly family meal plan pin image

Weekly meal plan prompts

  • Are the meals well-balanced?
  • Is there sufficient variety in the plan – are you serving chicken too many times? Too much red meat? Not enough veggies?

Make changes if you have to.

Make life easier

Each night or morning, look at your plan and see what’s for dinner. If there is something in the freezer, put it in the fridge to defrost. 

Are you using canned goods or vegetables? Put them near where you cook. If you have a full time job, take out all your cooking utensils so you can get to work fast.

These simple actions serve as mental reminders that help keep you on track.

Keep your plan updated. As you use up a vegetable, cross it off the list. When you have new leftovers, add them. This will help set you up for success next week.

Plans can be flexible! If you don’t want to cook something one night, change it up. 

Online grocery shopping can save you time. Instead of creating a shopping list, put the items you need directly in your cart, and check out.

Sample Meal Plan For Families

sample meal plan

Final thoughts on why you need to create a weekly family meal plan

There you have it! A complete guide to meal planning. In no time, you have set yourself up with a week’s worth of dinners and prepared your grocery list. All you need to do now is shop and cook.

Now you can spend more time with your family and working on your goals.

Happy meal planning!

Don’t forget to grab your FREE Family Weekly Meal Planner

Related article:

10 Stupidly Simple Ways to Save Money on Food

Do you have any meal planning ideas for families to share? Share them in the comments below.

This is a guest post written by Kristen Markel. You can find her details below.

Kristen Markel is a wife and mother of two boys. She helps busy people learn and grow in the kitchen to feed their families delicious and (mostly) healthy meals. When she’s not cooking or writing, you can find her hiking, skiing, or on the water. Her blog, The Kitchen Chalkboard, is full of helpful information to save you time and money. Follow her on Pinterest for all things kitchen related.


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A former English teacher turned lifestyle blogger. Content creator for blogs and websites. Book lover, scrabble addict and crime show obsessor.

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