Table of Contents
- Step 1: Take Inventory
- Step 2: Conduct a Head Count
- Step 3: Seek Inspiration
- Step 4: Assign Meals
- Step 5: Make a List
- Step 6: Grocery Shop
Long work days and busy sports schedules leave little time (or want!) to think ahead for anything let alone meal planning for a busy family. It’s not an easy job!
Below you’ll find a step-by-step meal planning guide to help plan your family dinners one week at a time. Planning ahead not only saves time and money, it also reduces food waste. Did you know that from farm to table, nearly 40% of our food supply is lost or wasted?!
Step 1: Take Inventory
Do a pantry/fridge/freezer check to see what items you already have on-hand and what, if anything, you want to use for the upcoming week. If you have a perishable item that needs to be used up, plan a meal to include this.
Step 2: Conduct a Head Count
Review your family’s calendar for the week. Who will be home on what nights? What events or outings are planned for the week? Consider the time involved and how many portions will be needed for each meal.
Step 3: Seek Inspiration
Google search or troll Pinterest or Instagram for recipe inspo. If you have a Pinterest account, create a “To Make This Week” board or bookmark posts on Instagram, so you can easily access recipes you plan to make.
To see what I am making this week, check out my Pinterest board here: https://www.pinterest.com/kgirgen/to-make-this-week/
Step 4: Assign Meals
Select what meals you plan to make each day. Get the family involved and have each person pick one meal. Write this out and hang it on the fridge along with some of the ingredients you plan to use (this way you won’t forget!).
Some of my go-to dinner meals include:
- Sloppy joes
- Salad kit with protein
- Oven nachos
- Stuffed peppers
- Breakfast for dinner (“brinner”)
- 30-minute chili
- Frozen meal with extra vegetables/protein
- BBQ chicken sandwiches
- Burrito bowls
- Air fryer chicken sausage with vegetables
- Anything on the grill!
Step 5: Make a List
I love the Out of Milk app for making grocery lists for meal planning. With a little customization, you can make the app more efficient by creating separate categories and notes.
When I have my lists finalized, I rearrange the order of the items (press and drag) by how I plan to navigate through the store (ensures you don’t miss anything or have to backtrack for an item).
Download from Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/out-of-milk-shopping-list/id564974992
Download from Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.capigami.outofmilk&hl=en
Step 6: Grocery Shop
Shop! Be sure to include your family’s staple items for breakfast and lunches. Use an online grocery shopping service if you’re pinched for time or enjoy the convenience of someone else doing the shopping for you.
Shopping for groceries online is amazingly convenient. I find that I stick to my list, and it’s also very handy if you’ve preselected recipes and need to double-check whether or not you have an item in the fridge or pantry!
So there it is. A step-by-step meal planning guide meant to help you knock out a weekly dinner plan in a matter of minutes. Comment with your favorite meal planning tips. I would love to hear from you!