Try this Free Printable Meal Plan to Save your Sanity, your Budget, and your Waistline!
We’ve all been there. It’s 5pm on a Thursday, and you’re staring into the fridge, hoping there’s something you can scrounge together for dinner. You meant to stop by the grocery store, but the day just got away from you, as it so often does.
The kids are “starving” and starting to eye your last stash of leftover Halloween candy.
Your husband will be home in 30 minutes, and he probably won’t be too excited about another cereal-for-dinner night.
So you throw in the towel and call in an order at your go-to pizza place. In fact, they probably have your order on file, because let’s face it, this isn’t the first time you’ve made a desperate last minute dinner call. Actually, you seem to find yourself in this exact predicament at least once a week.
You feel a little guilty about the wasted money (and calories), but the family has to eat something right?
Girl, I feel you.
Life has a way of interrupting our best plans, especially when kids are involved. We want to feed them healthy, home-cooked meals. We want to stick to the budget and not blow our eating out money before we even get to the weekend. But things don’t always turn out the way we’d hoped. I’ve been in your shoes more times than I can count.
Without some kind of easy-to-use, reliable plan, the last minute pizza scenario is likely to happen more often than not.
So what can you do?
The solution is simple. Make a meal plan for the week and eliminate all that dinner time stress once and for all.
All it takes is 10 minutes a week to make a meal plan for your family.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a natural planner, this process is so simple, there’s no excuse not to try it.
And I’ve created a Free Printable Meal Plan (plus a Special Bonus of a Free Week Easy Recipes) to make things even easier for you. If you use my Free Week of Easy Family Recipes, your first week of meal planning has already been done for you!
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How to Make a Meal Plan (the Easy Way)
Print your Free Printable Meal Plan here.
- Either print a new meal plan each week or laminate one copy and use it as a whiteboard with dry erase markers.
- We stick our meal plan on the fridge so everyone can see it, and I don’t hear the “What’s for dinner?” question three thousand times a day.
- If you don’t have a laminator (which are super affordable these days!), try using a plastic sheet protector instead.
Gather 10-15 of your family’s favorite recipes, or print my Free Week of Easy Family Recipes here.
- Don’t forget meals you might not have a recipe for (spaghetti, taco salad, pancakes, etc.).
- I keep a recipe box with about 40 of our favorites to rotate through.
- Add ideas for lunches and breakfasts too if you’d like. The Free Printable Meal Plan has a place for these meals or an option without them if you only plan dinners.
Look at your schedule for the week, considering:
- The weather:
- A cold, rainy day would be perfect for crock pot soup and summer days just beg for a big salad.
- Family activities:
- If soccer practice starts at 6pm, plan simple sandwiches instead of a complex casserole.
- Your (or your husband’s) work schedule:
- I teach preschool 2 days a week, and I know I need my simplest recipes on those nights because I don’t have the energy to do anything too time-consuming.
- You may want to plan special meals or dining out on these days or skip meal planning altogether if you’ll be traveling.
Assign meals to each night of the week.
- Plan one night to eat out.
- This may be more or less frequent depending on your budget.
- Plan one leftovers or clean-out-the-fridge night.
- My kids LOVE it when we have a Smorgazburg Night with a half slice of pizza, a spoonful of mac & cheese, maybe a dinner roll, and a small helping of our Chicken Crunch Casserole for everyone. They think it’s like a cafeteria (which my kids find strangely fascinating).
Grocery shop accordingly.
- Use your recipes to create your shopping list. The Free Printable Meal Plan has an area to add your shopping list. Don’t forget to add lunch and breakfast items, drinks, snacks, and staples.
- Check out this post and this one for tips on efficient, money-saving grocery shopping.
Give yourself grace and adjust as needed.
- If plans change or you just don’t “feel” like having taco salad on Tuesday (this happens to me a lot), rearrange your meals, but try not to replace meals entirely. Sticking to your plans will eliminate extra trips to the store. And fewer shopping trips means less money spent, less time lost, and less stress in your life. Yay!
- If you so have super stressful day, go ahead and order that pizza, mama. You’ll still have all the ingredients for your enchiladas and they’ll taste just as good on Saturday as they would have on Monday night.
- Everyone needs a break sometimes, so don’t be a slave to your meal plan. Just like your budget or your diet, you have to make it work for you, or you’ll end up quitting when it feels too restrictive.
Download your Free Printable Meal Plan and Free Week of Easy Family Meals today and say goodbye to dinner time stress once and for all!