This post is part of the Organize Your Entire Life series. Want to go back and check out the intro or Day 1 ? Check them out here:
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The Ultimate Meal Planning Guide
There may be no worse chore, in my opinion, than planning meals. Feeding 5 people, none of which like enough of the same things to constitute a meal, is tiring. I’m thinking I’m not alone in those feelings so I created The Ultimate Meal Planning Guide to help you get through meal planning too.
Check Your Stash
What do you already have in the pantry, freezer and fridge that will help you create meals for the week. Always use what you have before you move on to buying more. Try to build some meal potential by adding one or two fresh ingredients to some left overs or use up the last of that sour cream with a taco night.
This is a good time to clean out the refrigerator of anything that is going bad or needs to be used RIGHT NOW.
Keep a List of Staples
I always have frozen berries in the freezer, until I don’t…. There is nothing more frustrating than being mid meal prep and realizing you are missing something you thought you had. It is even worse when you live 15 minutes from a grocery store so dinner is delayed by 45 minutes. Eye roll
I created a Pantry Staple Printable for you to record all those items you always keep on hand, just incase you don’t realize the ketchup is missing. You could totally fill in your favorite items, laminate it and use a fine tip dry erase marker each week to check off what you do have.
Plan to Work in Batches
Think about meals that can save you time by working in batches.
If you are making chicken cutlets on Monday, make extra and have chicken sandwiches later in the week. One prep, one mess, two meals. Boom Shakalakalaka
Plan Your Meals
Have Your Go To Meals
We all have a few favorite meals that the whole family will actually eat. Here are some of our family faves:
- Turkey Burgers
- Salad (Yes salad can totally be a meal!)
- Baked Mac n Cheese
- Chicken Soup
Sometimes I feel like I am going to gobble if I eat one more stinkin’ turkey burger, but they usually end up on the menu each week because it’s easy and everyone will eat them.
Come up with your go to meals to keep in your arsenal incase you just can’t think of one more meal for the week and need an easy solution.
Have Theme Nights
Here are some ideas:
- Meatless Night
- Taco Night
- Sandwich Night
- Chicken Night
- Pizza Night
- Soup and Salad Night
- Left Overs/Fend for Yourself Night
- Pasta Night
- Breakfast for Dinner-Who doesn’t love that?
We don’t eat a lot of red meat (taco night is made with ground turkey) so we don’t have a beef night. But if there were I would totally call it “Where’s the Beef? Night” Am I showing my age with that?
Deconstruct the Meal for Picky Eaters
John and I like lots of flavor in our meals but the kids don’t. Curse their overly sensitive palates.
If you have kids that hate sauces or strong flavors, just pull their meats or pasta out before you add the extras. My kids aren’t huge fans of tomato sauce so when we are dying for pasta, theirs comes out first and gets mixed with a little butter and salt.
Write your Meals Out
Use your weekly meals worksheet to write all the breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options you need for the week. Then use the “to buy” section to write the ingredients you do not have on hand.
Plot Your Course
By using the shopping list worksheet I created for you, you can separate all your items by store area. This will save you that trip across the store to grab those bananas you didn’t see on your list when you were in produce, or the oatmeal that is on the complete other end of the store. I know we all want to get our steps in but come on!
Only Make One Shopping Trip
This not only saves you time, but it will also save you money. Seriously my friend, you know as well as I do that if you forgot bread and need to go back to the store, that trip costs about $40. All those marketing geniuses know how to make that happen.
Some Meal Ideas
I have compiled a list of 31 meals that at least 2 people in the family enjoy and the others can be forced to eat, um I mean the others will tolerate enough to not starve. If you try a new recipe and they even mildly tolerate it, write it down, pin it, or print it, but for all that is holy, don’t lose it!
I even added in some ingredient reminders because I always forget something. Having the majority of the ingredients written down helps me remember.
PS: If I have a favorite recipe online that I use, I have linked to it. You may need to adjust the recipe amounts to suit your needs.
- Tacos with refried beans (red onion, cheese, sour cream, avocado)
- Turkey burgers with fries and cranberry sauce
- Macaroni and Cheese with corn and cornbread
- Grilled chicken with salad (croutons, dried cranberries, tomatoes, cucumbers)
- Homemade chicken nuggets with apple sauce
- Beef Stew with mashed potatoes Great SLOW COOKER meal (carrots, onion, celery, potatoes, seasoning packet)
- Chicken Soup with rolls (carrots, onion, celery, potato, bouillon)
- Tequila lime chicken with tortillas (sour cream, salsa, avocado)
- Ham with corn and mashed potatoes
- Pasta with herb butter, lemon and peas (chicken or shrimp can be added)
- Homemade Pizza with chicken wings
- Quiche (pie crust, eggs, cheese, ham) Great for left over ham from number 9!
- Breakfast (pancakes or waffles, hard boiled eggs, berry sauce, whipped cream)
- Raviolis with sauce and salad
- French toast with berry sauce, whipped cream and homefries
- Chicken stir fry with rice
- Stuffed Shells (Tip: make extra sauce and freeze for another meal)
- Twice baked potatoes with cheese and bacon and a salad
- Salad with cheese croutons, dried cranberries and rolls
- Chicken piccata with spaghetti (Tip: make extra chicken cutlets and use for chicken sandwiches in the same week.)
- BLT (one child has a BL one has a BT, but it works)
- Toasted tuna subs with pickles and roasted brussels sprouts
- Fried chicken sandwiches with pickles
- Potato pancakes with steamed carrots
- Chicken tenderloins, linguini mixed with shredded carrots and sugar snap peas lightly steamed with a peanut sauce
- Meatballs with grilled vegetables
- Steak tips with steamed vegetables and baked sweet potato
- Grilled cheese and tomato soup
- Quesadillas (we like cheese, chicken and jalepeño)
- Shepard’s pie (great LEFT OVER meal)
- Cookies…oh wait it isn’t socially acceptable to eat cookies for dinner is it? Alrighty, how about Naan bread with peanut sauce, chicken and arugula on top? Yum!
With this list, or the one you create tailored to your family, you could have an entire month without any repeated meals. So you can avoid hearing “aaaaaagainnnnn?” when you tell them what’s for dinner.
Speaking of telling them what’s for dinner, is there any more annoying question? My go to answer is “Whatever I put in front of you.” But I say it with love and a smile 🙂
Save that question by filling out the Menu worksheet included in the bundle and they can check it themselves.
Have you signed up for my newsletter and downloaded your Ultimate Meal Planning Worksheet Bundle yet? Just click the download button.