Does that question strike dread in your mind whenever it is asked? We lead busy lives; our children lead busy lives. Meals sometimes end up in the fast food drive through, which we know isn’t the healthiest or the most economical way to feed our family. Meal planning doesn’t have to be daunting or difficult… I should know, I wrote the book on it. Literally, I wrote a simple book on meal planning: “Mom, What’s For Dinner?” It has many helpful tips and ideas, and a pull out menu planning worksheet and grocery list.
Meal planning is simply a system and, once we have a few weeks accomplished, we can rotate those meals through for the coming week with minor adjustments. But there are basic principles that we follow to get our meals set up, our grocery list written and the food bought and then prepped.
Write down a list of family favorite meals: it is always gratifying to hear “I love this!” when we are preparing or serving the meal. Get family input: what have they wanted to try, or had at a friend’s? Gather recipes: this may mean from family members, friends, neighbors or even the Internet or television. Grab the calendar: like I said earlier, we are busy, and some of our meals may need to be grab and go, or waiting for us in the Crock Pot/Instant Pot.
Grab the worksheet: my book includes a colorful pullout worksheet for meal planning. This can be copied and used for each week. (Or use a spreadsheet or just a piece of notebook paper.)
- First, date the worksheet and determine if this will be rotated through again, and if so, label it Week 1.
- Classify the meals by marking which nights will be “eat out” or need it to be a Grab-n-Go and this will leave the remaining nights as our “sit down” nights.
- Fill in the dinner entrees; add in the veggies and side dishes.
- Fill in lunch meals next, utilizing leftovers or having our children help us plan what they will take for lunch or which days they will buy at school.
- Fill in breakfast. While we may think that we always just grab the same things for breakfast, these items need to be on our grocery list and who knows, with planning, we may get to try something new.
- Advance preparation makes us jot down items that may need to be prepped the day before, or thawed in advance.
- Complete the grocery list. My meal planning worksheet has a large grocery list on the back that includes many of the basics many of us tend to buy all the time… just cross out what you don’t need that week.
If you would like a copy of my book, with more of these helpful hints and tips, and the full color meal planning worksheet and grocery list pull-out, click here. All profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Feed My Starving Children.