Planning our family meals ahead of time has changed my life and my grocery trips. I don’t bother planning breakfasts or lunches because it’s so much easier not to. I make sure I always have the basics on hand though. For breakfast: cereal, oatmeal, bagels, bacon and eggs. For lunches: bread, meat, cheese, mayo, chips, fruit, veggies, snacks, yogurt.
For dinner, I do plan out at least 5 meals each week, and have two nonperishable options (pasta or a frozen premade meal). And if I truly want to be successful with my plan, they are not locked in with a specific meal for a specific day. I do write them as if they are, but I am always open to changing things up midweek, and you should be too. Things happen, and sometimes its best to make adjustments. Don’t be too tied down to your plans that they start hurting more than helping.
As a guide there are two options for an easy way to meal plan.
Regionally Inspired or Protein Based.
An example of Regionally Inspired would be
- Monday – Italian
- Tuesday – Mexican
- Wednesday – Soup
- Thursday – Chinese
- Friday – European
- Saturday – Mexican
- Sunday – US
The other option is Protein Based
- Monday – Chicken
- Tuesday – Beef
- Wednesday – Bean
- Thursday – Chicken
- Friday – Fish
- Saturday – Beef
- Sunday – Pork
Then you just plug in the recipes. I always ask my hubs for one or two requests for what he’d like to eat in the next week, and I try to pick at least one new recipe from the Pinterest board full of recipes that gets otherwise ignored.
I went ahead and pre-plugged in some recipes that actually work for BOTH these meal planning guides.
- Monday – Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
- Tuesday – Beefy Enchiladas
- Wednesday – Taco Soup
- Thursday – Gen Tso’s Chicken
- Friday – Fried Tilapia and Fries (Fish and Chips)
- Saturday – Taco Salad
- Sunday – Pork Chops
This is where I really set in my plans. Go through and assign sides to each meal. I usually try to have a leafy green salad and vegetables with each meal.
Now is where you will really start to feel like you have your life together; use this meal plan to write your grocery shopping list. Review each recipe and check your pantry and fridge to make sure you get everything you need. This way you should only need to go grocery shopping once this week – I usually go on Mondays and make sure to get everything I need for dinner because we only have a Safeway nearby and I hate their prices; its a 15 minute drive to any other grocery store and that’s just not worth it if I forgot to get milk. Preparedness is key.
Remember to use your meal plan as a guide, not a rule. It is designed to help alleviate stress, not increase it.