A step-by-step guide on how to create a weekly meal plan that will save you time and money, plus plenty of printables to help make this process super easy!
Each week I plan my meals for the following week, this is called meal or menu planning. Some think it’s not worth it, but it really is a simple task that takes 5-10 minutes to plan one week of meals. The money and time that these five minutes save me throughout my week, makes it well worth the effort.
How to use the meal planner
My meal plans are available as an instant download, with many different colours and designs to choose from. There are a few different ways you can use your meal planner. Here are some examples to get you started:
- Laminate or place my meal planner printable in a frame with a glass front, then use a whiteboard marker on the glass so you can re-use each week.
- Create copies and file in a binder to repeat meals each month or so.
- Place on the fridge for easy access and so family can see.
- Do your groceries on the same day each week, and start your meal plan from that day. When downloading my meal planner printables you will get access to a seven different meal plan designs that start on a different day of the week, so you can choose the one that works best for your family.
How to plan meals
- Nearly every family has after school activities during the week. Organise your menu around the activities knowing you can start dinner throughout the day to have it ready in time when you get home (I love my slow cooker), or perhaps an easy meal is required on these nights.
- Glance through your fridge and pantry. Are there any food that may need to be cooked soon?
- Have a look through the grocery junk mail and plan your meals around the meat and veg that are on special, this will help reduce your grocery bill.
- Perhaps you may cook up a double batch and have left overs the next day. Don’t forget to include this in your planner.
- Now complete the planner with meals you would like to cook. Don’t forget you can get some great meal ideas HERE from my blog. I post my week of meals each Monday.
- Next write your grocery list, then you’re ready to hit the grocery store! Alternatively you can order your groceries for delivery or pick up. Check out my Online Grocery Shopping Tips To Save Time and Money.
- To speed up your grocery shopping even more so, you can use my instantly downloadable Grocery List or my adorable Pineapple Shopping List Notepad (which is a physical product). Both lists are cleverly designed into easy-to-understand categories that will prevent you running up and down the supermarket aisles.
Benefits of Meal Planning
Saves time – By creating a grocery list from your meal plan you will purchase only food required for the week, and therefore minimise the need for mid-week quick trips to the store.
Saves money – By sticking to a plan and grocery list, you will resist impulse spending. Look at the current local grocery catalogue and organise your meals and snacks around the items on special for the week. Planning will also eliminate the desire to buy takeaway.
Eliminates waste – By glancing in the fridge/pantry and planning to use unused or left over food you are eliminating waste and again saving money. For example, lettuce can be used with tacos this week or pasta packets in the pantry can be a side dish to some fish.
Create healthy meals – Planning menus for the week will allow you to choose a variety of food options. You can ensure you are eating enough fish and red meat, not having too much pasta and eating plenty of vegetables.
Favourite meals – Remember to include family favourites as you know your children will be happy and more likely to eat for you.
Cook in bulk – If you know you are going to be busy one particular night, prepare a meal the night before that could be stretched into two meals. For example, savoury mince with potato and vegetables for dinner one night, and easy mince triangles, spaghetti bolognese or mince on toast the next night.
Lower your frustrations – How many times have you stepped in front of the fridge and felt frustrated when considering what’s for dinner? By having it planned and all ingredients purchased, you will make your whole evening run smoother.
Reuse meal plans – Once you have menus planned for a few weeks you can start re-using your plans so you don’t have to keep thinking of new ideas.
Busy afternoons – By planning your meals around your afternoon activities (slow cookers are perfect for these days) you are more likely not to eat out knowing you have dinner at home… saving you even more money and helping you choose healthier option.
Helpers – Place your menu on the fridge. If you’re late home from work, still out at sporting activities or at work, hubby can make a start on dinner for you – he has no excuses!
Happy Meal Planning!
SHOPPING LIST + MEAL PLANNER – Don’t forget a vital ingredient when you do your next grocery shop. My Weekly Meal Planner + Shopping List allows you to easily plan your week of meals and write down all the ingredients you need at the same time. Meal planning helps to save you money and time on a busy weeknight!
LUNCHBOX PLANNER – Planning food for lunch boxes is essential, and makes creating a healthy nutritious lunch for your child easy peasy! Using this planner will ensure you have all the necessary types of food in the fridge and pantry. At the beginning of each week plan what food you need to add to your grocery list to fill their lunch boxes for the week. Use this instantly downloadable Lunch Box Planner to organise the school lunchboxes and also to ensure you remember to use up the food you purchased.
Alternatively you can use my physical Lunch Box Planner Pad which comes with 40 convenient pages (the perfect amount to get you through the school year!). I like to keep the old pages and re-use these again throughout the year.
BENTO BOX PLANNER – This Bento Box planner helps to ensure your lunchboxes are filled with healthy food each day and is perfect for any bento-style lunchbox or just a lunchbox with a lot of sections to fill!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT MEAL PLANNING?
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