Having a good Meal Plan is a great way to save money on groceries, use the food you already have, enjoy delicious meals and save time and energy. This Weekly meal planner is a great way to get organized and stay on top of your daily meals. It is a tried and true system that works for all different families, big or small.
One of the best ways to save some time and money is to implement a good meal planning system or strategy. As a mother of five, I am always looking for ways to get more organized and to become more efficient in and around the home. With several people to feed daily, it can become a bit overwhelming to plan and prepare delicious meals over and over again.
Over the years, I have found the simplest, most effective system for meal planning and have broken it down into three key steps:
- Selecting recipes
- Shopping for ingredients
- Prepping your meals
These steps might seem pretty obvious, and for the most part they are, but there’s a good deal of strategy for each one of them.
WHAT IS MEAL PLANNING?
Meal planning is asking what’s for dinner ONLY ONCE for the whole week, instead of every night, (usually last minute) and then shopping for and prepping the ingredients before cooking. Meal Planning makes it so you are organized and have a plan everyday. Planning your meals can eliminate those last minute dinnertime struggles. I find that everything runs a little smoother in my home when I am following through with our menu planning.
HOW DOES MEAL PLANNING WORK?
Meal Planning is going to look different for everyone. There are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you decide the best way to begin meal planning for your family.
- Are you looking for variety?
- To save money?
- Eat better?
- Eat out less?
- Prevent food waste?
- Preserve you sanity?
- Organize your meals so the kids can help with making dinner?
- Or to have a ready answer to the daily question from your partner or kids of what’s for dinner?
WHAT MEAL PLANNING IS NOT
- A complicated system that is overwhelming- Write it down on a calendar, Write it in your planner, write it down on a paper and hang it on the fridge, or on a menu board. Just put it somewhere you’re going to see it. I have done all of the above in the past and just recently created a Weekly Meal Plan Binder that I want to share with you. I am loving it! I feel so organized and have loved sticking to it!
- Entirely home cooked: Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from making homemade meals, especially on those crazy busy days, or days you just want someone else to make and clean up your meal. We like to plan ahead for going out to eat at our favorite place or ordering pizza for a fun change.
- Just for larger families: Meal planning is for everyone. But there are different strategies to employ depending on the number of people you’re planning for. If you’re flying solo, it can be nice to have a plan for yourself too!
- Expensive: When done well, this practice will save you money. It can also save you from making a few last minute runs to the store when you want to make something but find you don’t have it on hand.
- A lot of work: Not true. You do a bit of planning and preparation work up front, but it’s smooth sailing once you begin to work your plan. It can be a great time saver for those who really stick with it.
- Inflexible : There’s so much room for experimentation, quick revisions, and customization in meal planning. It’s not set in stone. If you don’t feel like eating what you have planned simply switch it up. Use a meal you have planned for later or get some takeout and then move that dinner to another day!
HOW TO START YOUR MEAL PLAN
- Decide how you are going to keep track of your meals. We are using this Printable Weekly Meal Plan Binder. You can grab yours below!
- Decide which recipes you want to use.
- Choose meals that will give you leftover. Or double the recipe. This will allow you to use them for lunches the next day or allow you to freeze your meal to be pulled out and reheated on a busy day. This is a lifesaver for busy moms!
- Cook recipes you know and add in some new recipes. Assemble that master list of recipes you already make and know your family loves. Then add one or two new recipes each week, if you are interested in expanding your menu and finding new favorites.
- 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.
- Cook only things you really want to eat. You might have to spend some extra time uncovering recipes that are right for you, but it’s worth it if you look forward to eating them.
- Pick a day to plan your menu every week. It is helpful if you pick a time that you can do consistently every week and make it a part of your weekly routine. My husband and I like to include this as part of our Sunday night routine. This is when we sit down with the kids and go over everyone’s schedule for the week and calendar it. Its a great way to get the whole family on the same page. And since we have the kids help with dinner one night a week they can help us plan the menu.
- Write down your menu plan. You can do this a month at a time or a week at a time. Add the recipes to your weekly meal planner binder so they are easy to find when you need them. This will also allow you to make sure you have the ingredients you need which leads us to the next step.
- Make a grocery list. Make a list of all the items you don’t have in your pantry, fridge or freezer. You should have the recipes in front of you which will make it so easy to do.
- Go grocery shopping on a set day. Since I set up the meal plan on Sunday. I like to go shopping first thing Monday morning. I bet the crowds and the meal plan is fresh in my mind. I also avoid going when I am hungry or snack-y which prevents me from impulse buying…which is a great way to save money too!
- Prep your ingredients if needed. Take a few minutes when you get home to prep your recipe ingredients. Chop the veggies. Get the meat marinating. Group the ingredients together in the fridge and cupboards for easy access during your busy week. If you have time this can be a huge time-saver for you…especially if your evening tend to be chaotic with your busy schedules.
- Enjoy the process. Mealtime can be an enjoyable time spent with family and the above steps can help you to enjoy it more.
- Get the family involved in clean up. The rule at our house is that everyone who eats gets to help clean up! Many hands helping makes the clean up so fast and easy and allows you more time to get the things done on your to do list!
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN OUR PRINTABLE MEAL PLANNER
The printable meal planner I created and have been using for our family includes the following meal planner printables. If you are interested in knowing what is included, I have shard a list below so you know just what you are getting.
Weekly Meal Planner Cover Page
Use this for the front cover of your 3 ring binder meal planner. It will slide down into the plastic sleeve on the front of your binder.
Weekly Meal Planner Spine Label
There are two different sizes available. Use the size that best fits your 3 ring binder. I used a 1 inch binder for mine.
Weekly Meal Planner Category Pages
The category pages will be inserted in some plastic sheet protectors for each category. You can arrange these how you like to suit your needs. There are Weekly Menu Planner Tabs that you can attach to each category page. See below for how to attach them to the page.
Use this grocery list to write down the ingredients you will need for the entire week’s worth of meals. I like to pull out the recipes I am making that week and add them to the binder. Then I can write down the ingredients on the grocery list so I am ready to go to the store first thing on Monday mornings.
Weekly Meal Planner (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Plan out all of your daily meals on this sheet and place it at the front of the binder so you know what you are making in a quick glance. I save these and place them into the back of the weekly meal planner. After some time has passed, you can pull them out and use them again for those crazy weeks you might not have time to do some meal planning.
Weekly Meal Planner (dinner)
This is similar to the weekly meal planner but only has an option for a dinner.
Monthly Meal Plan Calendar
Use this monthly calendar to plan out an entire month’s worth of recipes. This will help you from using the same old recipes all the time. I tend to do this when I don’t take the time to plan our menu’s out. I find that the family enjoys eating a variety of meals this way!
DOWNLOAD YOUR OWN MEAL PLANNER
Want to grab a copy of our meal planner to use in your own home? I am offering it for a discounted price for a limited time! Grab your copy before the price goes back up!Click on the button below. When your get your meal planner there will be specific instructions for how to put it together. I hope you enjoy it! It has made a difference in our home and I hope it can do the same for you! Feel free to ask any questions if you have any! I am happy to answer them!
SUPPLIES NEEDED TO MAKE YOUR RECIPE BINDER
- Weekly Meal Planner Download (grab it below)
- Standard 3 ring binder– Be sure to grab the binder that has a clear plastic sleeve in the front so that you can slip our recipe binder cover in the front and on the spine. Any size will work…for example 1 inch, 2 inch or 3 inch…it just depends on how many recipes you need to fit into your binder.
- Page protectors– I love using these protective plastic sheets. They will protect your recipes and your binder from any spills while you are cooking which will allow your recipe binder to stay looking great for years to come.
- Heavy duty white card stock– You will want to print your recipe binder and category pages on a nice heavy duty card stock so that it will last and provide nice support for your binder pages.
- Packing Tape and Double Sided Tape or scotch tape– You will need to use these to put on your binder tabs (instructions below).
Looking for some new recipes to try out? We just came out with some delicious and amazing recipe ebooks! Perfect for making your meal planning extra easy! You can check them out by clicking on the button below.
And finally, we have a DIY Recipe Binder that is the perfect companion to your Meal Planning! You can grab that by clicking on the button below!
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