With the question what’s for dinner always looming, it’s time to get organized with meal planning made simple with this great guide and free printable.
I think the # 1 asked questions in everyone’s home is “What’s for dinner?”
And I think 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 won’t like it or feel like that, or I will hear, “we just ate that like 2 weeks ago.”
And then on top of that, we have to think who has practice tonight?
Who has church activities?
Do we have any meetings?
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, “What’s for dinner after 3pm because if I haven’t done anything by then, it is simply too late!
I used to think that at least, but now I am no longer plagued with the all too familiar question, “What’s for dinner because thankfully I got smart about a year ago and started family meal planning.
I know that you are probably thinking, “I’m too busy to sit down and plan out the meals for the week.” I know you are thinking this because I used to also, however, I can tell you when I sat down and took the time to start meal planning it not only SIMPLIFIED my life, but it also SAVED ME MONEY at the store and at fast food restaurants, as well as STOPPED THE KIDS FROM COMPLAINING as much about what we were having each night for dinner.
Have I peaked your interest and you want to know more about how to meal plan?
Here are the 8 Steps on how to Effectively Meal Plan Each Week to Save you Time and Money!
Meal Planning Made Simple
Step 1- Make a List of your favorite Meals
The first thing to do is to make a cheat sheet of your favorite meals. Print off our FREE Our Favorite Meals Planner Here! Write down what the favorite meals are in your house! It doesn’t matter if they are complex like Chicken Madeira or as simple as tacos… Have this be a family affair where everyone gets to put their input in for their favorite meals. This can be a list that you continually add things too! This will serve as your go-to cheat sheet while meal planning!
Step 2- Print out our Weekly Meal Planning Guide
Next print off a bunch of copies of our FREE Weekly Meal Planning Guide here. This provides you spaces for each weekday as well as your grocery list all in one! 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.
Step 3- Before Meal Planning, check your schedule
You can’t even think about what you are going to make for dinner before you know what is going on in your life that week, so check the calendar and write down the things that are happening in the late afternoon or night that would impede you from cooking anything you plan!
Step 4- It’s Meal Planning Made Simple Time!
After you have made your master list of meals and printed your free meal planning guide it’s time to plan. 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!
What works for our family is we have family meal planning, it’s actually a job in our house because I was seriously tired of the kids always complaining about what we were eating. What we do is every Sunday we gather in the living room for 10-15 minutes and we 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. We always have our master list out just in case we need some ideas. Sometimes I will throw in there a new recipe I found on Pinterest to the schedule.
A Few Meal Planning Made Simple tips I have learned:
-Don’t try to have a complex dinner idea every night. 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.
-Keeping it simple is best with meal planning so you don’t get overwhelmed, especially starting out!
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 that is great too! You need to do what works best for you and your family!
Step 5- 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, but let’s be honest I am addicted to Walmart Grocery Pick up for several reasons so I usually just do that!
Here are the 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 lot 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!
Step 6- 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!
Step 7- Go Grocery Shopping (if you didn’t already online for pick up)
If you still love going to the store, take your grocery list and head out shopping, if you are doing an inline pickup order feel free to go in your pajamas like me!
Step 8- Post Meal Plan
It’s time to post the Meal Plan on the fridge for all to see! By doing this your kid’s 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 know longer have to stand in front of the freezer wondering, “What on earth should I make tonight?”
Let us know your meal planning strategies in the comments!
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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!