Figuring out what is for dinner is a struggle for many of us. Today I’m going to share some meal planning templates to help you make dinnertime easier!
Meal Planning Templates
For me, I’ve gone through a few variations of meal planning — and today I want to share 3 different ways to meal plan, so that you can make a meal planning template that works for YOUR family!
Before we dive into my 3 ideas, If getting your family into GOOD routines like menu planning is on your list of things to do this year — don’t look further than Family Routines. By automating YOUR life you’ll save time, money and sanity and have more to give your family. You can even save 10% with code PC10.
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Ok, let’s jump into my 3 methods:
Daily Themes for Meal Planning
I really liked how the Food Nanny did meal planning — and you can easily extend that to your family!
The basic idea is that each night has a theme. Ideas for themes include:
- Italian Night
- Burger Night
- Casserole Night
- Pizza Night
- Chicken Night
- Meatless Night
- Mexican Night
- Or, even a Leftover night!
Each week your calendar will have one of these themes.
I think this is great for people who see meal planning as “wide-open spaces” and have a hard time narrowing it down.
For ME (because I have a hard time assigning meals to a night in advance) — when I planned my meal plan, I just always had a
- Soup (or salad if it was summer)
- Ethnic night
That type of loose flexibility made it easier for ME to narrow down meals and made sure we ate a wide variety (super important to me) while still allowing for flexibility based on who’s eating dinner, and other schedules.
Menu Planning Template Around What’s on Sale
This menu plan has three steps:
- Go through the ads, write down what’s on sale
- Then, go through your recipes and find things that fit those items
- Go to the store, get the on-sale items and then use them in your meal plan!
I like this method, and it CAN save you a lot of money. I especially like it for produce. When butternut squash is on sale, then is a GREAT time to get it and eat it.
However, when I buy things on sale it’s often things that keep for a while and I tend to buy in bulk.
Also, this almost requires that you shop weekly (and I try not to, as I spend less, the less times I go to the store).
However, if you’re looking for a great way to make this work — Deals to Meals has this down to a science, and does it for a very reasonable cost!
They go through the ads
Separate pricing out into Good, better and BEST deals
AND they match up delicious recipes with those items
Honestly, some of my favorite recipes have come from them. Easy, and VERY family-friendly. 🙂
Menu Planning on What You Have
This is our current way of menu planning.
I buy a reasonable amount of things when they’re on sale (I have struggled big time with buying WAY TOO MUCH of items in the past), and then I shop my pantry and freezer and figure out what to put on the menu plan that week.
This is a great way to REALLY save money:
- You’re buying things on sale
- You’re USING them up, so they don’t go to waste
- You don’t shop as frequently, which allows you to save more by not being at the store
Menu Planning Template Bonus:
It is REALLY important that my kids have some ownership in the meal plan — especially because I cook with them nightly (which I talk ALL ABOUT in this post– I even have a video with my daughter about how it all works).
I menu plan on Sundays (I put it in my planner) and I really try to include them in the process. Their requests have to mostly fit into things we have (and I keep a lot on hand, so that’s not as hard as it might sound), and we do have to sometimes flex and adjust. BUT, by teaching them how to make meals they like — I’m setting them up for success in life!
SO, how do YOU meal plan?
I’d love to know — tell me in the comments!
Don’t forget to get YOUR family on routine!
And, grab my super-flexible menu planner that includes a grocery list as well. AND, check out my other food-related posts below that:
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