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Easy Meal Planning for Families
Easy meal planning for families? Yes, you read that right. Meal planning can be accomplished without shedding blood, sweat, or tears. You’ll see how I do it with my free family meal plan.
Meal planning is not my favorite mom-chore. Therefore, I’m always looking for easier ways to do get it done in less time. With homeschool, a community outreach program, committee meetings, and running a couple of businesses from home, there is NO extra time. I’ve tried a couple of different ways in the last few years, but the one way I always go back to is the weekly meal planner.
How to Meal Plan
Make a List of Favorite Meals
When I first began meal planning, I made a list of all of my family’s favorite meals. You know, the meals they don’t turn their noses up at? The list was of all of our favorite meals, breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and suppers. (I call it supper, I’m in the South. You can call it dinner if you’d like, but according to my dad, dinner is another name for lunch and if you invite him to “dinner,” he’ll show up real early if you meant supper. To keep things understandable, I call lunch, lunch, and supper, supper.)
Decide What Your Budget is for the Week
My easy meal planning weekly grocery budget for my family of seven is approximately $115 – 120 per month, food only. Yes, there are nights we eat leftovers because I HATE to cook. This also saves us a little money on meals. We change things up a little bit, maybe serve the same meal differently, but no one complains about leftovers when the meals are their favorites.
I also like to use one tray of chicken breasts for two meals or five pounds of hamburger meat for 2 – 3 meals for the week. Your meat is going to be one of your biggest expenses for the week. So, if you can reduce the amount of meat you purchase you can shave a little off of your grocery bill each week.
Check out The Grocery Budget Makeover if you need help in this area.
Take a Look at Your Weekly Schedule
Go ahead and mark the nights you need a quick meal or the nights you won’t mind having leftovers. Make a little note on those dates.
I usually mark the nights I have meetings, nights I’ll be working, especially busy days, and Sundays. Because, well, who wants to cook on Sunday unless you’re having a big dinner or something? Not me, but then again, I already told you I hate to cook.
Be sure to do this step as it sets up your easy meal planning for the week.
Need quick meal ideas? Try this post from LoveBakesGoodCakes.com.
Choosing Your Breakfasts and Lunches
I keep breakfast and lunch choices fairly simple. I choose two or three meals for us to pick from each day during the week and purchase all the food necessary for those meals. You’ll find some good examples of our breakfasts and lunches in How We Save Money on Groceries.
Choosing Your Suppers
Take a look at your weekly meal planner. The nights you aren’t taking kids to practice or going to meetings are the nights you would do the heavier cooking. The busy nights would be leftover nights or nights you’d prepare something quick with little cleanup.
Quick Tip ~ If you can swing it moneywise, plan on buying enough for two meals of one Crock-Pot or InstantPot meal every week. Combine the ingredients in a freezer bag and BOOM! you have an extra meal for a busy day that can just be dumped in your cooker and set. I love Erin’s meals and have used them many, many times. They’re simple and very affordable for larger families too. You can find out more about those here.
Future Meal Planning is Easier
Each week after you have used your weekly meal planner, don’t throw it away. Store it in a binder or folder. When you have a couple of months’ worth of meals down, you can start all over again with your weekly meal plans or just take meal ideas from them to compose a brand new meal plan.
Want a free weekly meal plan? (Talk about easy meal planning!) I have one for you complete with breakfast, lunch, snacks, and suppers. Just click HERE and get access to a full week of meals that you didn’t have to plan.