Meal Planning Made Simple with Free Family Meal Planner & Monthly Meal Planner Template Printable
With the question of what’s for dinner always looming, it’s time to get organized with this free weekly meal planner & printable. This is the best family meal planner that will change your life!
Busy Mom Meal Planner + Free Printable
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Would you agree that the #1 asked question in everyone’s home is “What’s for dinner?”
And the #1 thought most moms have is, “What on earth am I going to make for dinner tonight?”
I hate deciding what we are having for dinner because I almost can guarantee someone will have something to complain about the meal I cooked.
On top of that, we have to think about who has practice, church activities, or meetings that may affect dinner time.
From the time the kids get out of school until bedtime we hit the ground running hard with all the different events going on in the kid’s lives, which leaves little or no time for me to think about what we are having for dinner.
Often times, when I don’t have a plan for dinner, my family ends up missing out on a healthy meal sitting together enjoying family time. Instead, they get a rushed less-healthy option as I try to pull something together with no plan!
Do you know what’s saved me though? Simply choosing to create a meal plan at the beginning of the week. Having a busy mom meal planner has been a life-saver!
I know that you are probably thinking, “I’m too busy to sit down and plan out the meals for the week.” But let me tell you something. You are too busy NOT to sit down and plan.
I can tell you when I sat down and took the time to start meal planning is not only SIMPLIFIED my life, but it also SAVED ME MONEY at the store and at fast-food restaurants.
Once you are in the habit of meal-planning, it’ll only take a few minutes at the start of the week that will save you stress and time the whole week!
Have I piqued your interest? This family meal planner is going to change your life when it comes to dinner time!
How to Use a Family Meal Planner
Here’s how you get started!
Make a List of Your Family’s Favorite Meals
The first thing to do when creating your family meal planner is to make a cheat sheet of your favorite meals. Check out these 15 quick and easy ideas to help you get started!
Print off our FREE Family Favorites Meal Planner Here! Write down what the favorite meals are at your house! It doesn’t matter if they are complex like Chicken Madeira or as simple as tacos.
If it feels overwhelming to have to think of everyone’s favorites, get the family involved!
Sit down and have a family meeting to come up with your favorite meals. Make a huge list that everyone can keep adding to as you think of new ideas. This will serve as your go-to cheat sheet while meal planning!
Not only does making this list with your family ease your burden, but it also helps everyone in the family take ownership of your meal plan. Your kids will be able to see what’s for dinner and know that their favorite meals will soon be on the list too!
Less complaining about meal times from kids is always a mom win!
Print Out Our Free Weekly Meal Planner Template With a Grocery List
Next, you will want to print off a bunch of copies of our FREE Weekly Meal Planning Guide. This has the perfect amount of space for each weekday as well as your grocery list all in one place!
Don’t just print one at a time, print a bunch so you can start meal planning for the following week without having to come print off more.
Or, if it’s easier for you, you can even laminate it and use it over and over again. This family meal planner would be awesome laminated and stuck on your fridge so everyone can always see itl!
The printable even includes a monthly calendar, a sectioned grocery list to fill in, and space to plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Using Your Busy Mom Meal Planner
Time to get to planning! Now that you have your master list of your family favorites, planning out your family meal plan should be simple!
You can do this in several ways!
Some people plan meals according to what they have on hand in the pantry/ freezer or what is on sale that week. These are both ways to save at the store!
You can also have themes for different days of the week that help keeps things interesting. Think “Taco Tuesday” or “Pasta Fridays.”
What works for our family is having a family meal planning session, it’s actually a job in our house because I was seriously tired of the kids always complaining about what we were eating.
We gather together every Sunday in the living room for 10-15 minutes and plan out what we want to eat. We pick easier things on our busier nights and more complex things when we are going to be home.
Everybody has a say in what we are eating, which means they can’t complain at dinnertime. It’s not just my mom meal planner, it’s also our family meal planner! We always have our master list out just in case we need some ideas.
If you feel like you don’t have time to sit down and plan meals each week, we can still help! We have done all the work for you with our weekly meal plans that come out each and every week to make your life easier. You can sign up to get them sent straight to your inbox if this is easier for your family
A Few Meal Planning Tips I Have Learned:
If meal planning is new to you and your family, here are some tips to help you be more successful with free weekly meal planner.
- Don’t try to have a complex dinner idea every night.
Be honest with yourself about what is reasonable for your family. If there’s one thing I learned it’s that you are setting yourself up to fail if your plan is too complex for the time and energy you have! Throw in some Go-to Lazy Girl Meals, especially on busy nights!
- Don’t plan to cook every single night.
It’s okay to have pizza night or burger night at your favorite hamburger stand. And leftovers are great too!
- Keeping it simple is best with meal planning so you don’t get overwhelmed, especially starting out!
Start with familiar dinners and if that feels comfortable you can always try new meals, include lunch and breakfast, or get more complex in other ways!
I know meal planning as a family does not work for everyone. Some people like to take a few quiet minutes and do it on their own or use our weekly meal plans that are all ready to go. There is no wrong way to meal plan. You want to do what works best for you and your family!
Create Your Grocery List!
At this point, everyone is excused in our family to go off and play again so I can focus on making a grocery list.
If I am headed to the store I use the side of the Menu Planner where the grocery list is, but let’s be honest, I am addicted to Walmart Grocery Pick up for several reasons so I usually just do that!
Reasons Why I love Walmart Grocery Pick Up!
- It is so convenient to pop on the computer and start my grocery shopping with my recipe right in front of me. I can go recipe by recipe and I have a much smaller chance of forgetting something.
- I don’t have to wander the isles for 10 minutes looking for the obscure items I can never find at the store.
- I know my total for the most part! Walmart Grocery gives you a running tab of how much your groceries cost, which is awesome for budgeting. The only thing that is not exact is the stuff that needs to be weighed, but from my experience, it is within a couple of dollars of the total with what they estimate.
- After the shopping is complete. I pick a convenient time to pick up my groceries at my local Walmart.
- I drive there park in the spot and they bring my groceries out to me.
- I don’t have to worry about getting the little kids dressed bright and early on Monday morning to go to the store to do our weekly “big shopping”. Okay who am I kidding, I am usually still in my Pajamas too!
- If you haven’t tried Walmart Grocery they give you $10 to try it out. Just click here!
Include Everything You Need on the Shopping List!
After you have planned all the dinners for the week, don’t forget about the things you need to pack lunches, items for your pets, cleaning products, and laundry detergent. As we as your hair care products and toilet paper. The last thing you want to do is have to go back to the store to pick this stuff up!
How to Create a Monthly Meal Planner
Part of the free meal planning printable is this amazing Monthly Meal Planner Calendar. When planning meals for an entire month, keep in mind ingredients you can use up with different recipes.
Go through and inventory what you have and need for all your meals and start filling in spots! If you’re the type to shop once a week, break your monthly meal planner grocery lists into what you will need weekly so your ingredients will stay fresh and not spoil before you have the chance to use them.
Post Your Busy Mom Meal Planner
It’s time to post your family meal planner on the fridge, or wherever is best for your family, for all to see! By doing this your kids will never ask you what’s for dinner again! (okay they will, but direct them to the list to look).
Posting it also gives you a reminder of what to get out and what you planned, so you won’t have to worry about forgetting anything. Say goodbye to standing in front of the freezer wondering what on earth you will make for dinner tonight.
So are you up for the challenge of saving money and time by Meal Planning? Tell us what works for you with meal planning in the comments!
Looking for Great Recipes to add to your Family Meal Planner? Check out these favorites!
We hope that you enjoy our free weekly meal planner! Be sure to share your experience in your stories on Instagram and tag us @confessions_of_parenting! We love seeing what you are up too!
Don’t forget to save this Free Weekly Meal Planner on Pinterest so you can find it easily to reference when you are making your meal plan!
Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!