Getting that little bit organized by preparing a weekly dinner meal plan for your family can save you time and money in the long run. Meal planning will provide your family with a varied dinner menu for the week and it will enable you to determine exactly what you need at the supermarket in advance so you avoid those unnecessary and often unhealthy impulse buys once you are there. Grocery shopping becomes a breeze as you confidently stride down those aisles locating and ticking everything off on your Shopping List.
The short time it takes you to prepare a weekly family meals plan is well worth it as it takes the regular “what am I going to cook tonight?” pressure off as you will have an organized dinner menu ready to go and all of the ingredients on hand that you need to pull it off.
Steps to prepare a weekly family meal plan:
Once a week, write some ideas about possible dishes to cook that week:
- Try to include a couple of family favorite dishes that you know that your family will love.
- Search for a couple of new recipes; search through your cookbooks or look on online at cooking sites or ask your friends to share some of their favorite recipes. Try these family friendly dinner menu suggestions.
- Attempt to vary the meal types i.e. include a pasta recipe, a chicken recipe, a beef recipe and a rice recipe etc to ensure a well balanced weekly meal plan
- Try to double the recipe on at least one of the recipes so that you can eat one dish across two nights and/or freeze a meal for next time
- Include a freezer meal that you can take out of the freezer and put straight in the oven
- Incorporate all leftovers where possible i.e. if you buy a pumpkin for a recipe such as Baked Pumpkin, Sage & Pancetta Risotto, then plan to use the rest of the pumpkin later in the week in another recipe such as this Chicken Schintzel Salad.
- Give yourself a night or two off where you can either go out for dinner or have takeout
Use a Meal Plan Template to write out your meal plan for the week:
- Once you have chosen a selection of meal ideas, look through your family’s weekly activity schedule and start allocating the meals for each of the nights. If you know you have a busy couple of afternoons then save the double-up recipe and the freezer meal for those nights. If you have a little more time on one or two of the other days then those could be good days to try out your new recipes.
Use a Shopping List template to write up a grocery list:
- Depending on how often you can get to a supermarket, try and stock up on the required groceries in advance. Many people do one or two bigger shops a week and perhaps one or two smaller shops to stock up on perishables such as milk, bread, fruit and vegetables. Regardless of how you prefer to shop, always look at your weekly meal plan two days in advance to make sure you have the ingredients you require for the upcoming days. If you need to get something from the supermarket then this gives you a little more time rather than it being a rush at the last minute
Keep the plan flexible.
- Remember that things do come up at the last minute and sometimes your weekly plan will need to change.
The small investment in time that it will take you to prepare a weekly family meal plan is well worth it. A dinner menu prepared in advanced enables you to combine a mix of tried and tested favorite dishes along with some exciting new recipes so that you can continue to expand your culinary repertoire and keep your family happy at the dinner table every night.
What are your best meal planning tips?
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