Meal planning for families is one of the most time saving and cost effective things I have found to keep my meals running smoothly.
Once you get into a meal planning habit, it takes very little time to have your meals run like clock work.
If you are new to meal planning I have some awesome tips and tricks I have used for years to help you get started.
Benefits Of Meal Planning For Families
1- Saves You Money
By meal planning for your
When you shop once a week with a detailed list and meals in place you can get everything you need in one trip.
2 – Saves You Time
By knowing what the meals are for the week you will avoid the “What’s for dinner” question.
No more scrambling to come up with a meal an hour before dinner or getting something ordered in.
3 – Less Stressful
When you have a plan, mealtime becomes less stressful.
Mama’s, we have enough stress and meals shouldn’t be one of them.
You have everything on hand and a jump start on your meal prep right in your home.
4 – Healthy Meals For Your Family
By meal planning your family will eat much healthier, well balanced meals.
It beats hitting the drive thru or ordering in from your local pizza place.
Your recipes from scratch are always a healthier option.
Successful Meal Planning For Beginners Tips
1 – Start Out Small
I’m sure you’ve seen some people creating a monthly meal plan before. That may work for them.
However, when you are just starting out stick with a weekly meal plan.
Start off for a few months only meal planning weekly.
Pick your designated grocery day and plan a week ahead.
You can work up to monthly meal planning or every other week later.
Create the habit of meal planning first.
2 – Shop Your Kitchen First
When I sit down to meal plan I shop my kitchen before I do anything.
By seeing what I have on hand in my pantry, fridge and freezer I can base meals off of that.
I can not tell you how many times I have found various meats in my freezer that I did not know I had.
But this goes for every meal that your family eats.
My family loves muffins. They will eat them for breakfast or snacks. You might have all of the ingredients on hand to make a weeks worth for your family.
3 – Know Your Families Favorite Dishes
This meal planning tip is crucial, especially if you have picky eaters like I do.
Come up with about 20 different go to recipes you know your family loves.
The whole point of meal planning is to make things simple. You can try new things but keeping those family favorite dishes in rotation is a good idea for the ones who might not like the new dishes.
When you have a list of meals for dinner on hand just pick acouple each week to add into your weekly meal plan.
No need to constantly search Pinterest for new recipes all the time!
4 – Write It Down For Your Whole Family
By writing down your meal plan for all to see will hold everyone accountable.
Maybe you are not the one actually making the meal so this will help the person that stays on track with your menu.
I like to keep mine on a white board on my fridge, it’s part of my command center.
Another idea is to have a meal planning printable to print out and keep somewhere for your whole family to see.
Related: Free Meal Planning Printables
Here is where my whole family can go to see what is for dinner that week.
5 – Cook In Bulk
To save even more time for yourself, double your few favorite go to recipes.
That way you can serve one and place the other one in the freezer to use at a later date.
Like I talked about the muffins earlier, I wind up making more than I need for the week.
That way in weeks to come I can just pull out more muffins without spending any more time in the kitchen.
You can use this meal planning trick for various different meals.
6 – Use A Meal Service
Meal services such as Home Chef have become so popular, especially for busy families.Enjoy health home-cooked meals with Home Chef!
Having fresh groceries delivered right to your door and an easy recipe to follow is a great tip for meal planning beginners.
With meal services everything is measured out for you. This will eliminate time shopping and waste since it is proportioned already for you.
7 – Shop Your Grocery Store Sales
Before you sit down to meal plan take a glance at your grocery store sales.
If certain meats are on sale that week plan meals around them.
That way you are saving even more money when you shop. This is a good time to stock up on items too if you decide to start monthly meal planning.
8 – Include Your Whole Family
If your children are old enough ask for their input for meals.
Maybe your husband or your kids want to try something new that you might not have seen.
This can keep meal planning fresh for the whole family.
9 – Add A Leftover Night
I add a leftover night once a week, every single week!
By Thursday I am worn out and we usually have a fridge full of leftovers.
So nothing goes to waste add in a leftover night each week or whatever works for your family.
It’s one less night of cooking for you and easy clean up!
10 – Coordinate Your Calendar
Keep in mind your schedule when you are meal planning. If you have a night where you have little time pick an easy meal for that night.
Plan each meal ahead of time and meal prep. That includes lunches too!
My kids get a packed lunch for school that I always prep the night before. It is part of my nightly routine but I also prep lunch for myself and my husband as well.
If your kids are in school and mornings seem to always be rushed you can make muffins as I do. It’s a great snack to eat on the go.
Meal Prep Ideas For Meal Planning
Meal prepping can be another way to save so much time for your family!
Here are some bonus tips for meal planning like a pro.
These are all things I like to do the day I go grocery shopping that way I am all set for the week!
1 – Prep Your Veggies
Chop, dice and slice up all your veggies. If you need them for a recipe cut them as so and set them aside.
If they are for snacking bag them up into individual containers so they can be easily grabbed.
2 – Wash All Your Fruits
Wash all your fruits and get them ready to eat for the week.
This is a huge time saver for me, especially for berries and grapes. I like to cut up strawberries and pull the grapes off the stems too.
Since I pack those in my kids lunches I can just easily pull them out and bag them up.
3 – Cook Ahead Of Time
If you can get a jump start on any part of your meals do so.
I will cook up chicken, ground beef, rice etc. Anything to cut down time the night of serving a meal
4 – Create Snack Boxes
I recently started doing this for my kids and they love it!
Create little “lunchables” for my kids. They can pull these out after school for a healthy snack.