This part of the series looks at planning your family meals for the week. It doesn’t matter how you prefer to do your grocery shopping (weekly, fortnightly, or monthly), but I think you need to plan this weekly. This allows for you to assess what ingredients you have and what meals you can make with those ingredients.
I personally never thought that I needed to plan my meals; I was good at going to the supermarket with the meals in my head that I intended to make, what ingredients we had and/or needed. But once I started organising my household I saw the positives that planning could offer me.
You may say I am a convert. I now plan my weekly meals and use my Meal Planner to help me write my Grocery List and to communicate with my family “what’s for dinner”, without answering that question 10 times every afternoon. It really does only take minutes and saves time throughout the week, especially when you don’t have to think up what to cook and can get meat etc out to defrost ready.
Firstly, you have to think about the meals that you and your family like to eat, are easy to cook, you enjoy cooking and of course, meals that are good for you. Having a Meal Planner also allows you to see how balanced your diet is.
Sit down with your family and talk about each individuals favourite family meal. You could do this on a scrap piece of paper, but I found through one of my favourite cleaning/organisational blogs Clean Mama the ‘Family Dinner Favourites’ print out. Clean Mama is offering this print out FREE here. Then over dinner one night, while we were all eating we started filling out what dishes each member of the family liked the best. If they had more than one that was great, as that gave the list variety. This tool is then your basis to start planning your weekly meals.
Now on to planning. I tried looking around again for a printable Meal Planner that was simple, straight forward and suited my needs. Many of the Meal Planners that I came across included a Grocery List and I wanted to keep that separate. So I decided to design my own simple form.
After looking around and not being completely happy with what was available myself, I have decided to share with you the document that I created, so that you can benefit as well.
Please click on the link below to view the PDF document (for your personal use.)
Now that you have a planner, write on your Meal Planner any sports/activities that happen of an afternoon or evening that will effect your meal preparation or the time that you eat. When you think about these activities you will see this will effect what dishes you will naturally prepare on these night. For example, on Wednesdays my son has judo starting at 5:30pm. We would usually be sitting down to a meal shortly after this time, so I have to prepare something lighter on this night that he (and whichever parent is taking him) can eat beforehand. On Tuesdays my kids have swimming lessons so we don’t get home until 4:45pm so I will have to cook a meal that has a shorter prep time or pre-prepare (slow cooker possibility) something.
Here is a working diagram of how I use my Meal Panner:
As you can see in the picture above I have set the seven days of the week out so there is plenty of room to write your meals. I have also included the ‘Baking” section down the bottom. Not only can you pop the sweet treats here, but lunch box recipes that you may bake once a week etc. If you want to have take out, allocate a night for it, that way the kids won’t be nagging you every night.
I don’t think that I have changed too much about how I did my planning (in my head) before, but now that it is written down for all to see, a pressure has been taken off me. I know what I am going to be cooking and feel in control.
Next, I’ll be covering the Grocery Shopping List. This is a natural progression once you have planned your families meals. I’ll be sharing with you how I use my list and some tips to save you time and money with your groceries.
I hope you have found this helpful. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below and/or sharing with me your planning tips.