How to create a weekly meal plan

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

This post is sponsored by Coles

From next week I will be continuing to publish my weekly meal plans.  This is where I share with you what our family eats for dinner for the week, plus what I have baked up for the freezer.  I don’t feel our weekly meal plan is too fancy, there is always a regular occurrence of eggs on toast for those mid-week nights that I don’t feel like cooking!

Before I share our weekly meal plans I want to refresh you on how and why I meal plan. You can read in full detail here the benefits of meal planning, however in a nutshell meal planning:

  • Saves you time
  • Saves you money
  • Eliminates waste
  • Balance your meal choices
  • Lowers your frustrations

I know if I didn’t meal plan each week I would waste far too much money on groceries buying food that I don’t necessarily need and go a little crazy at 5 o’clock dinner preparation time with wondering what I can cook. Ultimately by planning ahead I can create healthy meals, stay within our grocery budget, eliminate the ‘let’s just get takeaway’ mood and by knowing ahead of time what I am cooking gives me a good indication of what time I need to start dinner.

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Steps to help you meal plan

Normally I meal plan each week, however this year I am trying something a little different, instead of planning each week I am going to do it fortnightly in the hope that I can do one big grocery shop each fortnight and a little one to buy fresh meat, fruit and vegetables in between, I’ll let you know how it goes.

To start meal planning I sit down on a Saturday or Sunday morning before the rest of the family wake up sip my coffee and browse through the specials and magazines to get some inspiration.  Below a variety of ways to find meal inspiration.

How-to-Meal-Plan-for-family-1

Family favourites

My kids love dishes like spaghetti bolognese or Mexican.  So I make sure that I rotate each week with something we all really enjoy.

Recipe books or magazines

If you are wanting to make something new or creative, look through a recipe book or your collection of pages you have ripped from magazines.  I have a file filled with all the recipes I want to cook from magazines I have read over the years, read more here.

The Coles magazine can be found in store, online or on the iPad app… all free! Plus I’ve just realised you can find all past Coles Magazine recipes here.

How-to-Meal-Plan-for-family-2

Catalogues

This would have to be one of my favourite tools to meal plan, I browse through the Coles catalogue to see what’s on special and base my meals on these items. This also helps to lower the grocery budget!  So if mince is on special I’ll plan spaghetti Bolognese or homemade rissoles.  Coles specials run every Wednesday – Tuesday.

Websites

There are various websites you can find loads of family friendly meal ideas, but here are a few:

  • My blog – of course!!  I share loads of recipes my family have enjoyed.  View all my recipes here.
  • Taste.com.au – over 40,000+ recipes.

Theme your meals

I have particular days of the week that I like to cook certain meals, this is heavily based around the kids after school commitments, so I can prepare particular meals before taking them to sport and then pop it in the oven when we get home.  I’m still yet to secure all the kids after school commitments for this year, but this is an idea of how I based our meals last year:

  • Monday – casserole/oven bakes
  • Tuesday – stir-fry
  • Wednesday – easy meal, left overs or slow cooker
  • Thursday – meat and 3 veg
  • Friday – something that can be eaten with fingers ie. pizza
  • Saturday – anything goes
  • Sunday – easy meal or roast

I like to write all my meal plans down, in particular for point 4 shared below.  I’ve made this new printable meal planner for my fortnightly plans to also include lunches for myself and room to write in the weeknight theme idea.

Fortnightly-Meal-Planner-2

Don’t make it too fancy

Easy dinners are OK, dinner time doesn’t have to be a fancy gourmet meal every night.  Meat and 3 vegetables or salad is acceptable and a healthy option and as I mentioned above we often have something simply like eggs on toast on those particularly busy afternoons.

Make enough for left overs

Make double meals so you don’t have to cook the following night, or you could place a meal in the freezer for a busy night the following week.  Make a double batch of potato mash so you can use it for meat and 3 veg night, and the left overs on the shepherd’s pie the following night… save yourself time, this is the beauty of meal planning!

Look in your pantry/freezer

Look through your pantry/freezer, particular at the back and create meals based on products that have been sitting there for a while or nearly out of date.  Open up websites like taste.com.au and type in the ingredient you need to use beans for example into the search bar and it will come up with loads of different ways for you to use them.

After you have finished meal planning

Grocery shopping tips

If shopping instore:

  • Don’t shop while hungry otherwise you will buy all kinds of food you really don’t need
  • Always take snacks for toddlers, even if they have eaten before hand as they will always want something to eat
  • Skip the isles you don’t need to prevent you from purchasing more than what is on your list. ie. chocolate isle.
  • Give the kids their own grocery list to help occupy them while instore
  • Stick to your list, don’t buy extra items as you will soon go over budget

If shopping online:

  • As mentioned above you can ‘click to order’ directly from the recipes in Taste.com.au to Coles, love this feature, ticking only the items you need from each recipe.
  • Your online order can be delivered to your door or collect directly from Coles
  • Ordering online limits impulse buying
  • Coles deliver FREE every Wednesday, helps with the grocery budget!
  • Ordering online allows you to keep track of your total bill, allowing you to remove items if you have overspent
  • Coles online have fabulous lists that you can refer back to.  ‘My usuals list’ will show every item you have purchased in the past 12 months, makes it easy to find products the family really enjoyed a few months ago.
  • One of my favourite features would be ‘My lists’, every household would typically buy the same grocery items each week, in our family it would be bread, ham, milk, yoghurt etc.  Create a list of all your weekly essentials, then with just one click you can add all your essentials easily into your shopping cart.
  • Check your qty’s when ordering online, once I wanted 8 potatoes, I ended up ordering 8 bags of potatoes LOL.

Display your meal plan

Place your meal plan on the fridge or as I have done in the past in a beautiful frame.  Having it displayed benefits in the following ways:

  1. You can get an idea in the morning what time you will need to start dinner to have it on the table at a particular time
  2. You can get an idea in the morning if you need to prep anything early, or start the slow cooker
  3. Stops the rest of the family harassing you asking ‘what’s for dinner’ (this drives me crazy)
  4. If your busy having the meal plan on display allows your partner to easily see what is for dinner and with all hope they will make it for you

Family Meal Ideas

I’ve created a sample weekly meal plan for you below to inspire you to start creating your own plans.  Remembering to keep balance of meals in mind, starting with a casserole, the next day a dish planned with vegetables, easy mid week stir fry, pasta bake that can be made ahead when busy with school activities in the afternoon, then at the end of the week some simple but tasty meals, ending with a family roast night.

I’ve popped a few Taste.com.au recipes in there so you can try the click and collect feature if you shop online.  I’d love to hear what you think, I think it saves so much time.

MONDAY – Chicken Casserole with Mushrooms & Carrots, see recipe here

chicken family casserole

TUESADY – Chicken & Coconut Curry Meatballs with Vegetables, see recipe here.

Chicken-and-Coconut-MeatballsWEDNESDAY – Thai Green Beef Curry with extra vegetables and rice, see recipe here

thair green curry

THURSDAY – Chorizo Pasta Bake, see recipe here.

chorizo pasta bakeFRIDAY – Tuna Burritos, see recipe here

SATURDAY – Crumbed lamb cutlets with pumpkin salad & pesto, see recipe here

crumbed lamb cutlets

SUNDAY – Roast Pork with caramelised apples & onion, see recipe here

roast pork

So I’d love it if you don’t meal plan to give it a go this week and let me know how you go!

This post was coordinated by The Remarkables Group and run in accordance with my disclosure policy

 

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18 comments

Elizabeth February 16, 2015 - 7:24 AM

I started following your meal plan last year and found it enormously helpful. On the three nights I work late I know my family are still enjoying a healthy meal that I pre-prepared for them that my husband just needs to heat up. The leftovers are my perfect lunch the next day. My life would be nowhere near as organised without your fabulous site.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 16, 2015 - 8:46 AM

Ooh Elizabeth thank you so much! I am so glad to hear you are enjoying the site and gaining so much from it. You sound like you are on to it with the meal planning!.:)

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Lauren @ Create Bake Make February 16, 2015 - 7:42 AM

I think you will love doing a fortnightly meal plan. I started doing one a few months ago and have found it has reduced our food bill and number of trips to the supermarket significantly. I love your meal ideas too, will be adding a few of these to our next menu!

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Sonia from Sonia Styling February 16, 2015 - 11:49 AM

I am utterly hopeless at meal planning but I want to improve, so this post is oh-so-timely! Great, easy, doable tips, Kat. I also wouldn’t mind giving online grocery shopping a go – I’m great at it with clothes and shoes, so surely food should be the same, right?! x

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 16, 2015 - 1:14 PM

Haha yes i’m with you, Sonia! Oh so easy to shop online for clothes!!.:) I just love to meal planning and my house would be incomplete chaos of an evening if i didn’t meal plan. It really is so easy once you start.:) x

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S February 16, 2015 - 5:11 PM

Hi I made the Monday chicken dish. Is the sauce suppose to be thick. Mine is not…. Do u think it is ok to replace cream with yoghurt?

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Meg February 17, 2015 - 6:55 AM

I had no idea that Coles would deliver for free. This is awesome news! I’ll have to give it a go, especially since we don’t own a car with which to do a big weekly (or fortnightly) shop. 🙂

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 17, 2015 - 8:49 AM

Yes, put in your postcode and see which days they will deliver free to your area! That will be a big help for you 🙂

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Sandy February 18, 2015 - 1:36 AM

I started the 8 week program with I Quit Sugar and one of the things she does is a menu plan. I ve not used one in years and was going to the shops almost daily picking up a few things here and there plus a big weekly shop. My grocery bill was astronomical not to mention really time consuming. I will be definitely keeping this habit going afterwards as I can’t get over how much time I was wasting nit to mention money going to the shops all the time. My ultimate goal; coles once a month and fruit and vegie market weekly.

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Yvonne B February 21, 2015 - 6:58 AM

Thanks Kat, now I don’t even have to think for myself with your already planned menu for each day. TASTE.COM is a great way to store recipes, you have your very own my recipes, etc. I even get my shopping list from here…tick the boxes and add other ingredients and print it off. You can plan menus for special occasions which I love to do on here. You know I have shopped at Coles all over the place until our local Coles opened years ago. I must be one of their loyal customers.lol 43 years… I still like to go in personally,check out everything, pick my own fresh produce but would use the online service if I had to, good idea if you are bedridden, or short of time…I used to love the parcel pickup where you could do your groceries, say before work and pick up later it has been replaced by online shopping. The only negative I have is that all the major supermarkets are replacing products with their own brands, a lot of it are from imported ingredients. I still like to buy Australian

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Yvonne February 21, 2015 - 7:01 AM

Sorry should read Taste.com.au

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http://www.cvilledoulas.com/ April 24, 2017 - 4:56 AM

first of all congrats, i am also a new mom and my son is 6 weeks today.i change his diaper every time when it is wet and soiled. he sleeps a lot during the day so every 3 hours when feeding him i change it after that or if he cries i normal just check it in case thats the reason.i cleaned his cord too with alcohol that that helped it a lot because it dried which is good because it will fall of.other wise there is nothing much at this point because all they do is sleep eat and poop.the more they grow the more you will do.

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Marilynne Read February 21, 2015 - 8:53 AM

I’ve read lots of meal planning tools but yours has been the most helpful. Thanks.
I don’t have a family but do lead an extraordinarily busy life and find I waste food. I don’t like all that waste of food or money.
The thing is will try is particular meals on regular days. I hadn’t thought of that but can see that it should work. I also like the idea of planning lunch meals. Lunch is my most uninspired meals so this may help me to like lunch time again.
Thank you.

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Jules February 21, 2015 - 2:34 PM

I used to meal plan all the time and found it so much easier to budget and be organised on busy days. I really like the coles recipes and taste. The main challenge I have is planning for a varying number of people each week. Thanks for the inspiration. Time to get back to planning meals and budgeting.

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mitsa March 1, 2015 - 5:02 PM

Can we see any ideas on a Summer Family menu Plan it is really hot in Perth lately some inspiration would be great.
Thank you

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Krystal March 30, 2015 - 9:40 PM

We try to stick to a meal plan. It’s the best thing we ever did. Little waste, save money and time in the long run. Thanks.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 1, 2015 - 8:38 AM

I agree Krystal.:) I would be stressed without mine!

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Mandy February 20, 2016 - 5:49 PM

Meal planning in my house is a massive undertaking. We’re 5 ppl, and everybody eats something else!! The baby is 6 months old and on first food puree, my 3 year old is at a very fussy stage, my 5 year old wants proper meals, my husband is on a carb free diet, and honestly by the time I have everybody else sorted out I just have a tub of yoghurt for dinner! I’m holding out for one day when we can all sit down and enjoy the same meal together. ??

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