Your Easy Guide to Creating a Family Meal Plan

by Julie

You’re constantly told you need to try meal planning but you don’t know why or where to start! We all need to eat, but why is meal time always such a stressful time? You know if you just had a plan you could follow, evenings would flow more smoothly. But do you know how to create a monthly meal plan for your family? Here are some fabulous tips for meal planning for working moms.

Consider this your working mom meal plan and easy family meal planner guide!

If you’re always wondering what to cook for the week and need some tips for meal planning for beginners, try these meal planning ideas and grab your meal planning template! Especially if you’re working on a family meal plan on a budget, it is important to have your list of recipes and ingredients ready for shopping, so you get what you need at the grocery store and don’t bust your family meal planner on a budget allowances on take-out or junk food.

How to Make a Family Meal Plan – Meal Planning Hacks for Working Moms

Do you know how to make a family meal plan? Creating a family meal plan is exactly that, making a plan. A plan can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it, so let’s dive into this family meal planning life.

I also made you a gift – grab this meal planning template to use to record your simple weekly meal plans! This printable is the perfect place to store your meal plan ideas family has already loved. Just go to my blog post to sign up.

What is the first step in creating a family meal plan?

I love simplicity and thrive on routines, so the only meal plans that work for me are that – simple, routine, quick, and easy. My husband recently returned from being away for a year and a half, and we just moved. To say that we have our lives on track and everything planned out would be a lie. But I’m working on it. I’m working on slowly developing plans and routines for our new life, and I prefer to do so with as little stress as possible.

The first step in creating a family meal plan is to think about the meals your family already loves. What are your go-to meals? These are the meals that you can throw together on a regular basis and probably already have ingredients for in the fridge and pantry. For me? That’s usually some form of stir-fry, tacos, and a casserole. Use those go-to’s as part of your meal planning ideas.

Start small! Meal planning can be as complicated or as simple as you make it, so if you’re starting from no plan at all (*cough*) just start with one or two weeks at a time.

Recommended Post: Side-Hustle Series: Interview with Illustrator Sarah Shore Designs Can you come up with 10 meal planning recipes that you love to make and your family loves to eat? If so, great, your meal plan will be perfect! Grab a calendar (or download my freebie!) and put one meal for each day Monday through Friday. Weekends are fair game for leftovers, eating out, or more elaborate family meals. Or, you can plan those out too. Our biggest struggles are weeknight dinners, so I focus there.

You can even do themed nights, which are a fun way to add variety and routine to your meals at the same time. For example:

Monday: chicken ( here are 3 of my go-to chicken recipes)

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: slow cooker meal

Thursday: stir-fry

Friday: fish

Saturday: casserole

Sunday: red meat

Then, pick a different recipe for these themes. If you can come up with four different recipes for each theme then you just planned a meal plan for an entire month! Way to go!

Organize your meal plan and shopping list

Think about how you like to be organized. Do you like lists or calendars? If so, you should totally grab the meal planner freebie I have for you!

Do you prefer to journal and draw out your calendars and plans visually? You can add a meal plan to your command center!

Or you do love printables and want to create a kitchen binder? If so, you might love this kitchen binder.

Are you more about the digital and like to have everything on your phone? You can even add your meal plans to your Google calendar. That’s right! Use google calendar for meal planning!

Pick a method, pick a time that works for you to sit down and do the meal plan, and try it out for a while.

Write out your meal ideas, quick recipe steps, and ingredients on a shopping list. If I have time, I organize my grocery list by type of food, so I don’t walk back and forth around the store picking up things I find later on my list. Or, let’s be honest, I pretty much let Shipt do my shopping. (If you don’t have Shipt in your area try Instacart.)

Once you have a meal plan, you can make a go-to grocery shopping list. If you plan to rotate specific meals for the next few weeks, then you know exactly what ingredients you will need and can buy in bulk to last the month.

The goal for me is to have one month planned out, rotating variations so we’re not eating the same thing every week. Then, just repeat that monthly meal plan unless I feel like making changes. I like to plan hard once and continue using that plan as long as it works – that saves from having to plan over and over.

Where to get easy recipe ideas?

While you might initially start with tried and true family go-to recipes, you might then wish to expand your list to something new. There are so many great recipe ideas out there, but some are quite elaborate and honestly take too much time in my opinion. That’s why I started a Pinterest board called: Under 30-minute family dinners. I have collected (and others have shared) easy and quick meals that are great for coming home from work and putting together before everyone starves to death.

Recommended Post: Smart Ways to Save Your Money This Year as a Family

There are tons of great recipe books you can pick up as well. For example, try From Freezer to Table: 75+ Simple, Whole Foods Recipes for Gathering, Cooking, and Sharing by bloggers Rachel and Polly of Thriving Home.

You can also find slow cooker recipes, which are great to prep the night before and set out before you leave for work. Coming home to a meal that has finished cooking, warm and ready for you to eat, and a house that smells delicious is quite amazing.

Or you can let someone else meal plan for you!

Meal planning for working moms is especially important and can be time consuming. I have a fun roundup of meal delivery and meal planning services that make this task a bit easier on our lives.

Many fabulous bloggers out there share recipes and ideas that you can apply to your own meal plans and recipe lists.

Healthy meals don’t just happen. (Wouldn’t that be nice!) You have to decide what you’re eating, make your list, buy the ingredients, and then prepare everything.

And the domino that starts it all is knowing what you’re going to eat. In other words, the path to health begins with a plan.

Don’t forget to grab your weekly meal plan template here!

Over to you – what’s on your family meal plan?

This post is part of the 31 Tips for Working Moms series. See the rest of the posts here:

Want more details about this and other budgeting & minimalist living ideas? Check out more here!
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3 of 6 comments
  • Sherry4bc Sherry4bc on Feb 07, 2023

    How can I save this article?

  • Love the meal planning idea but mine is a little sketchy. I shop several markets each week, all on my way to and from work. One store I purchase meat and produce only and shop other places for different things my household may need.

    Store sale adverts don't show all items for sale or in store promotions. I may stock up on an item that is on sale and needed in the future and wasn't advertised on line or in the circular that arrives in my mail box every week.

    So I may spend a little more one week on a few items, but then I am stocked up for several months which assures me I have enough at home to whip up a tasty meal on a moments notice without a trip to a grocery store for perishables.

    The pandemic had me making do with what I could find and we had a lot of random disjointed meals - but everyone was fed and enjoyed the meals. And I expanded the culinary horizons for some of my two groups and that alone was worth the headache of shopping during that time.