Family Meal Planning
Do you know what was the biggest relief in terms of family management when my Daughter started to attend kindergarten? I had to think significantly less about meal planning… 😅
I love getting things organized but to be honest, meal planning is something I tend to forget about and leave to the last moment.
Luckily I met April, who is such an expert in cooking and meal planning and she was happy to write a guest post for The Organized Family with her best hints! 😊
Hey! I’m April, the owner of Chaos & Wine! I’m a mom of 4 boys and chaos reigns in my house! Between homeschooling, cleaning, and running all the errands and carpools plus cooking my life is chaos!
With a family of 6, all with busy schedules, having a weekly meal plan is key to keeping us not only fed but organized as well! It also keeps the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner, Mom?” to a minimum!
Benefits of Creating a Weekly Meal Plan
I’ll be honest creating my family’s weekly meal plan is not my favorite thing to do but I’ve learned over the years the benefits of having a weekly meal plan ready to go! It causes me so much less stress over the course of the week because I know exactly what I’m making for dinner each day.
Creating a meal plan and a coordinating grocery list streamlines my grocery shopping and gives me so much more time for other more fun things.
Having a weekly meal plan reduces the overall stress of trying to decide what I’m going to make for dinner each morning or afternoon. I can be prepped and ready for a whole week of meals without worrying at the last minute if I have this ingredient or that.
Did I mention how this reduces the dreaded, “What’s for dinner, mom?” question that I get a least a half million times a day! I post my weekly meal plan on the fridge and they can refer to it whenever they want to know what’s for dinner.
Make it part of your morning routine to check the meal plan and prep anything that needs to be prepped before you head out the door!
I can make healthier choices for my family by creating a weekly meal plan and choosing to serve dishes that are well-rounded and healthy. It prevents me from ordering a pizza or swinging through a drive-through because I didn’t plan ahead for dinner!
I try to provide well-balanced and nutritious meals for my family and really limit dining out not only because eating at home is healthier it’s also much more budget-friendly!
Planning your meals in advance is also so much more cost-effective and budget-friendly than heading to the grocery store without a plan or worse grabbing take-out on your way home from work or soccer practice.
Before creating my weekly meal plan, I always check my favorite grocery stores ads and deals for the week and plan around those. This week, for example, I found chicken breasts for a great price so some sort of dinner requiring chicken breasts was definitely going on the menu. Plus, I can pick up an extra package for the freezer for next week.
I also check my favorite coupon apps like Ibotta for extra savings and add any relevant coupons. Check your grocery stores app as well as they often have great coupons to add to your card!
Don’t forget to think about what’s already in your fridge and pantry as well. Did you grab an
extra package of spaghetti when it was on sale? Be sure to use it as well as any vegetables, like those potatoes that might start sprouting any day now, and add those to your weekly meal plan.
Having a weekly meal plan really helps me keep us within our family budget.
Streamlines Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping is probably one of my least favorite chores especially if I have extra kiddos in tow. With 4 boys including 2 teenagers, we go through a LOT of groceries!
Personally, I shop about every 3 days to refill our fresh fruit and veggies but I only do one main shop after creating my weekly meal plan. I know exactly what I need going into the store and I have a list so I don’t forget anything.
Having a plan prevents food waste and helps keep us on budget when grocery shopping. Having a list helps reduce impulse buys as well.
Just make sure those littles aren’t throwing extra stuff in the cart as you go!
How to Create a Weekly Meal Plan?
While creating a weekly meal plan is not my favorite chore, it is rather satisfying to get it done!
I sit down on Sunday afternoon with my Weekly Meal Plan and Grocery List worksheets and set to work.
I then try and decide if there are any days of the week that will be super busy in the afternoons and evenings. For example, Wednesdays we have several boys in after school activities so that’s usually earmarked for a crockpot meal or a leftover night.
Weather is huge here in Minnesota but we like to grill year-round – are we expecting any really nice days that lend themselves perfectly to grilling or is there a blizzard heading our way and should I put a nice hot soup on the menu?
Any birthdays or family dinners with extended family? We like to do a bigger meal on Sunday evenings and have some family over so I usually plan something a little special for Sunday dinner.
Last, I’ll ask my kids and my husband if they have any requests and if possible, I’ll try and take those into consideration. I remind them often – I Don’t Care, I Don’t Know, and Whatever You Cook are not edible!
Taking all these things into consideration will greatly reduce my stress level later on in the week when I’m in full mom mode with school, sports, and my husband’s busy work schedule.
Here’s what a typical meal plan might look like for me:
Monday – Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Crusty Rolls
Tuesday – Swedish Meatballs with garden salad
Wednesday – French Dip Sandwiches (Crockpot) and French Fries
Thursday – Leftovers – cause we all need a break!
Friday – Orange Chicken with egg rolls and rice
Saturday – Stuffed Pork chops with roasted green beans
Sunday – Lasagna with Homemade Bolognese, garlic bread, and a salad
Once I’ve got the menu planned out, I grab the grocery list worksheet and start filling that in referencing, of course, whatever I might already have in my pantry, fridge, and freezers – this is just another way of creating a weekly menu plan saves you money since you aren’t standing in the aisle of the grocery store wondering if you need onions!
Meal Planning for Breakfast & Lunch
Personally, I do not make a meal plan for lunch or breakfast. We stick to pretty much the same meals for lunch and breakfast and keep it simple. However, there are many families that do a weekly meal plan for breakfast and lunch as well!
Breakfast is eggs, toast, cereal, donuts (occasionally), sausage or bacon, and fresh fruits. With six people in the house, all waking and leaving at different times, all but the youngest make their own breakfasts. I usually just put choices on the kitchen island while I enjoy my coffee in the morning!
Lunch for me and the kids, two of which are home all day is leftovers. I love leftovers and it’s a great way to reduce food waste and save money. The two kids that go to school get packed lunches which may be leftover soup, sandwiches, and a few sides like chips and fresh fruit or vegetables.
I just make sure to add all of the things we typically eat to my weekly grocery list – fresh fruit, sausage, sandwich fixings, chips, and other things we typically eat each week. I always make sure to check the grocery sales ads to see what might be on sale for example it was bacon this week so I grabbed a few extra pounds for the freezer!
Final Thoughts on Creating Meal Plans
While I’ve shown you how I do my meal plans, there are many different ways to create your meal plan. Find a solution that works best for you. Do you need a worksheet or perhaps a pretty dry-erase board for the wall? Choose what fits you the best!
I always have a grocery list going on my fridge as well so I know what I’m running out of and can easily add it to my weekly grocery list or grab it on my way to pick up my fresh produce. I love using a magnet grocery list from Amazon as well.
Finding a system that works for you is key to creating and sticking to a weekly meal plan. Regardless of what system you use whether it’s a fancy worksheet or a blank piece of paper snagged from your kids’ craft station, it will reduce your stress over what to make for dinner, simplify your grocery shopping, help you stick to your budget, and streamline your dinner
Oh, and if you have picky eaters, you might would like check Julie’s post as well!