Check out these helpful meal planning ideas for families. Simplify your plan so you can reduce your stress and enjoy your family more.
Most people have a love/hate relationship with meal planning. Meal planning is a wonderful way to be prepared for the week ahead and reduce stress surrounding mealtime. But if you don’t have a game plan when you sit down to meal plan, it could take you a really long time. You might be scrolling Pinterest or searching through recipe books for hours. Nobody has time for that!
Every individual will meal plan a little differently, and that’s ok! There is no one way that is better than all the rest. Use the ideas that you find helpful for your sanity at this time of your life and leave the rest. Just because a method works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Get Meal Planning Ideas from Your Family
Coming up with seven dinners a week every week for the rest of your life can seem daunting, not to mention if you are a homeschool mom and have to think of breakfast and lunch too! I find that the best way to make sure that your kids enjoy their dinner is to take their votes. Throughout the week, if they are requesting a certain meal, write it down on your grocery list. The same thing goes for you and your husband. If you find that you are craving a certain meal, write it down so you don’t forget.
I also like to ask my husband and kids the day that I am putting in our pickup order to see if there are any last-minute requests. By the time you have to sit down and actually write out your grocery list, you may already have enough meals planned for the next week, especially if you have a lot of kids.
Doing it this way will definitely get you a lot of repeat meals. That’s ok! I would rather make a meal over and over again that everyone enjoys instead of constantly trying new meals that no one likes.
Back Up Meal Planning Ideas for Families
Some weeks when I meal plan, I accidentally leave an ingredient or two off the list. Or it’s been a really long day and I don’t feel like cooking what was on the menu for that evening. When this happens, I like to have ingredients for easy back up meals in my pantry and fridge at all times. In the pantry, I like to keep things like bread, noodles, rice and other grains, beans, potatoes, canned vegetables, spaghetti sauce, and dried fruit. In the fridge, I like to keep extra frozen meats, eggs, deli meat, raw/frozen veggies, and frozen fruit in stock.
Keeping these extra ingredients around at all times helps me not freak out when I forget something at the grocery. I know my kids will be happy with a quick sandwich and fruit and vegetables. Or baked potatoes, potato hash, rice and beans, spaghetti, etc. Think of some meals that you can keep ingredients for at all times around easily. Write these meals somewhere for when you forget ingredients for a planned meal, or you don’t feel like cooking what is on your meal plan for that night.
Weekly Meal Planning Ideas for Families
Theme nights are a great way to simplify meal planning. A fun way to create theme nights is by using alliteration. Examples: Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wednesday Wings, etc. Another way to do theme nights is to focus on a different cuisine each night. Examples: Italian on Monday, Mexican on Tuesday, Greek on Wednesday, etc. Repeat favorite cuisines multiple times a week or make extra some nights so you can have a leftover night or two each week. I never complain about my fridge being stocked with leftovers!
Something I like to do is keep a list of our favorite meals all in one location. This helps so that I don’t have to go digging through recipe books and my Pinterest recipes. I can pull out my list of favorite meals and choose directly from it if I am struggling to come up with enough meals for the week. Also, once I’ve made a meal repeatedly and it’s a favorite, I like to type the recipe up and print it out for my recipe binder. So many of my favorite recipes I have discovered on Pinterest and saving it in my binder keeps me from always having to pull out my phone while I cook.
Add your email below to get this cute favorite meals download sent straight to your inbox! The next time you sit down to meal plan and feel at a loss, just glance at your favorite meals list for inspiration.
Meal rotations are another way to cut down on the time it takes to meal plan and write grocery lists. If you made a list of favorite meals, this makes it easier to create a meal rotation. Check out this example:
- Sunday – Greek chicken bowls
- Monday – Zucchini boats
- Tuesday – Oven baked tacos
- Wednesday – Cincinnati Chili
- Thursday – Chicken fried rice
- Friday – Honey Dijon chicken
- Saturday – BBQ chicken
- Sunday – Creamy bacon asparagus pasta
- Monday – Deconstructed burger salad
- Tuesday – Bangin’ ranch drums
- Wednesday – Mexican chicken and sweet potato skillet
- Thursday – Shrimp quinoa bowls
- Friday – Cowboy grub
- Saturday – Grill out
After week 2, go back to the top and repeat. Continue as many weeks as you want or make the next month a totally different meal rotation.
Bonus Meal Planning Ideas for Families
This is a big one for me. Any time I want to try out a new recipe, I plan to do it on the weekend when my husband is home. Even when the new recipe looks simple and easy, I know it will take me longer to make because I have to look back and forth at the recipe so much. I also plan to cook meals that have lots of prep or steps on the weekend when my husband is home.
The whole point of meal planning is to take the stress out of the situation. No one likes feeling anxious or stressed as it gets closer to mealtime and there isn’t a plan in place. Try one or more of these ideas out to help simplify your meal planning routine.
What are some of your families’ favorite meals that are on the menu often? Let me know in the COMMENTS.
Check out my homemade dishwasher powder recipe so you can ditch the toxic chemicals in the kitchen!