If your home life is anything like our family's it is busy! Weekdays are jam-packed with homework, after school activities, projects, gymnastics practice, and on and on, right? Add to that: work, doctor appointments, laundry, workouts, shopping, running errands, and the last thing you want to think about is what to make for dinner tonight.
I find that if I plan out our dinner menu I am more likely to actually get food on the table and not resort to take-out meals or breakfast for dinner on most days! I mean, come on, I'm no dinner-making machine and some days mommy just needs a break! Although I try to make dinner most days, it doesn't always happen even when I have a meal plan. Just imagine if I didn't have a plan! Oh wait, I don't have to imagine, because it totally does happen. Without a weekly meal plan, it's a lot more take-out than I care to admit. Not only is this not healthy, it's not good for the budget either. If you're like and want to work on this too, here are few tips that have helped me get (mostly) better with meal planning.
Meal Planning Sheets:
I use these handy meal planning sheets I found on jennycollier.com under the freebies tab. I print out a bunch at a time and put them in a binder I keep in the kitchen. I've been using these for over a year, so not sure if they are still on her blog, but you can check it out. I'll warn you, she has a ton of content, so you just may end up finding all kinds of other fun stuff! I've been super happy with the one I have because it also has spaces for my breakfast, lunch, and snack. So although I use it for my own weekly meal prep, I use the dinner space to write down our family dinners together.
However, if you only need/want to get started on dinner meal planning, I really like this menu planner pdf I found from design finch which includes the shopping list right beside it. Talk about super helpful, huh! You can also just google 'free printable menu templates' and a ton of options show up.
I look over the coming week's activities to see how busy weeknights will be. On super busy days, I will most definitely pull out the crock pot. If I know we'll be out around dinner time, usually on Saturdays, I don't stress it. That just becomes our eating out night. We really do enjoy eating out and so it's definitely something we look forward to. Being flexible about meal planning is super important to keeping my sanity and not being overly rigid. Life happens and we gotta roll with it.
I like to see what I already I have on hand first, then take it from there. I'll stick to our tried and true recipes, but I also like to look at a few of my favorite food bloggers, and Pinterest boards for new ideas. I may even ask the kiddos or the hubs for some suggestions too if I'm feeling especially nice that morning ;)
After I have all my meals planned, it's time to get the shopping list started! Fun times for sure! (just so you're certain, that was sarcasm) We prefer to buy our meats and as much as we can in bulk. Although we still go grocery shopping on a weekly basis, buying in bulk lessens the load. Every other week is a "big" shopping week, I truly mean this in both financially and amount of stuff we get! The other 2 weeks are "small" and just require us to grab items that run out quickly, foods for a specific recipe, and so forth. I especially like these lighter grocery shopping weeks.
I really hope these small tips were helpful to getting you and your family on the meal planning bandwagon! Like I said early, being flexible is super important but I can guarantee that if you plan out your weeknight meals, you'll stick to it more often than not. Try it out and let me know how it goes!