The best free printable weekly menu planner
Quick and easy tips to get you started!
DISCLAIMER – This is the everyday practical women’s meal plan. I get anxiety just thinking about going on to Pinterest and looking at these beautiful put together, constructed meal plans (I bow down to you for doing it). This is not that type of article.
I started meal planning out of desperation. I was constantly out of ideas for dinner, missing ingredients and feeling stressed out. I was reading Simple Parenting by Kim John Payne, and the book mentioned that children love to know what to expect and having a nightly meal theme gives them comfort and makes dinner easier for you and the kids.
I had nothing to lose so I gave it a try! The kids loved it. They did not get bored, on the contrary, because I kept tweaking the meals until I had something that everyone liked. I ended up with better eaters which meant less complaining and a calmer happier dinner.
“Why I love meal plans"
Quick – I’m a working mama of three active kids in sports. I’ve had to learn how to get healthy meals on the table QUICK.
Healthy – I truly believe what we put in our body can either fuel us or deplete us. To me, it is important to have a balance of fresh fruits and vegetables with whole grains and a protein, without a lot of processed food.
Simple – When creating a meal plan, I try to minimize waste and money spent on “unique” ingredients. I stick with staples that can have multiple purposes.
Saves tons of money & time – Here is a secret, I only do meal plans once a quarter now. Yup, that’s right. Every season I change my themes, I review my menus, make any adjustments and update my shopping list. As I’m driving home, I do a mental run down of what I have in my pantry and decide what we are having for dinner based on that daily theme. Because I know that my shopping list matches my menu theme, I will always have the ingredients for at least one of the recipes. I save money because I go to the store less often, and food is not wasted.
“How to make meal plans NOT boring”
I hear my friends say that they couldn’t meal plan because they would get bored. I 100% get it. Meal planning is not for everyone, however if you find yourself at 5pm scrambling to figure out what’s for dinner, missing key ingredients and are tired of being stressed and frustrated, read on. Here are a few thoughts to keep meal planning exciting:
Seasonal Menus – Every season, you switch your meal plan out. This allows you to adjust with the temperature, warm comfort food in the winter and salads and BBQ during the summer.
Open Plan – This works well for me for breakfast. I have a list of breakfast ideas with all the ingredients on hand (see sample menu below). I don’t have set schedule I just decide morning of depending on time and mood.
“How to meal plan”
Everyone’s meal plan is unique to their family’s needs, budget and time. Here are a few steps to help you create your own meal plan:
Step 1 - Keep it simple!
Before we start, think about the following:
What do you love to cook?
What does your family love to eat?
How much time do you have to make dinner?
Step 2 – Pick your themes
We have provided you with some ideas to help you get started.
Step 3 – Pick your meals
For each theme pick 4-5 meals. My favorite way to do this is to go to Pinterest and type in Quick, healthy “fill in the blank”.
Step 4 – Test your meals
I have my family vote on the meals and then would narrow down my list to the top 2-3.
Step 5 – Create Your shopping list
Here is the important part. Create a template shopping list either in excel, word or handwritten making sure to put the ingredients from your meal plan onto the list.
When it’s time to go shopping you grab your list and do an inventory check, replacing any item that is missing.
“Sample of what my menu Looks like”
Below is a list of kid approved, quick and healthy meals:
For breakfast and lunch, I keep it open but stick to the following staples:
Breakfast – I try to always serve fruit and hot chocolate on the side.
Old Fashion Oatmeal with brown sugar and chocolate chips
Scrambled eggs or fried eggs
Buttered toast & sausages
Turkey bacon & cereal
Eggy in a blanket
Kodiak Waffles (make a double or triple batch on the weekend and eat the frozen waffles during the week)
Lunch (kid’s menu)– always include a vegetable, fruit, and a snack plus one of the following:
Bean & cheese Burrito
Rice and beans
Pasta and sauce
Almond butter and jelly sandwich
Dinner – Includes a vegetable and a fruit for dessert.
Monday – Pasta Monday
Homemade mac & cheese
Spaghetti and red sauce
Tuesday – Taco Tuesday
Wednesday – StirCrazy Wedneday
Thursday – Thankful for Slow Cooker
Friday – Pizza Night
I talk a lot about fruits and vegetables. Here is a look at my staples – Keep in mind that it changes during the season and I tend to buy whatever is cheapest.
Lettuce for Salad
Now it's your turn! Remember to download your free printable weekly menu planner
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