Have you ever thought about feeding your family well? Or have you admired families with good meal plans? This post will walk you through some of the ideas you can quickly implement into your family meal plans.
Sure, developing a good meal plan can be downright frustrating, especially if you have a day job and kids to take care of. Back from work, you have to stay in traffic, arriving home very late and tired. This is why family meal planning can be a secondary want to you.
But don’t let that happen because I’ll give you up to 10 unique family planning ideas you can test out. But before that, let’s look at some reasons why you need to have a good meal plan.
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Why Is Meal Planning Important?
There are many benefits of using meal plans. For example, good meal planning can save you time thinking about preparing for dinner or, even better, saving you money. Let’s go in-depth with these benefits, shall we?
1. Saves You Money
Having a meal plan means that you’ll only be visiting the grocery once a week, minimizing impulse buying. Additionally, you can save money by avoiding duplicate purchases you could have found yourself making in the week.
2. Saves You Time
Visiting the grocery once a week helps you save time. Besides, you’ll spend less time having to figure out what you will be preparing for your family. If you have a day job, you can get home and start cooking your family’s favorite.
3. Helps You Eat and Grow Healthier
Meal plans will shape your eating habits. For example, many people skip meals because they can’t figure out what to eat, but meal planning ensures that you take three meals every day. You’ll find yourself eating many junk foods if you don’t have a family meal plan. On the contrary, you will enjoy home-cooked meals together with your family and grow healthier.
4. Minimizes Food Waste
Without a meal plan, you will buy foodstuff without knowing what you already have and what you don’t. In most cases, these foods will go to waste when they finally go bad. This is why you need to find a way of making every dollar count. Developing a meal plan for your family eliminates food waste by first checking what you have in the kitchen before going shopping.
5. Saves You the Hassle
Deciding what to prepare for your family is not easy. This is because you’ll most likely have a difficult day at work. Adding it to what to prepare for your family can add more stress to your already stressful work-life. Meal plans will help you know what you will prepare for your family for the whole week, so no more staring at your refrigerator thinking about what to cook.
How Do I Make My Weekly Family Meal Plan?
1. Create a List of 10-20 Meals
Everyone has a taste and preference and this is a perfect opportunity to collect ideas from your family members. Ask your family members what their favorite foods are and note them down. Once you have the list of your family’s favorite, mark those foods you can easily prepare.
Another idea is to categorize your list into fish, beef, chicken, side dishes, crock-pot dishes, soups, vegetarian meals, etc. The next thing is to collect recipes and save them on your phone using applications, such as Pocket.
2. Write Down Your Meal Plan on Your Notebook
With advancements in technology, you don’t have to look for notebook paper to jot down your meal plan. Most smartphones and computers come with a free notebook you can use for your personal use. Write down the foods you will prepare throughout the week.
I recommend that you plan for an entire week. Write down the available foods you have in your fridge or freezer and begin drafting the foods you’ll prepare on specific days. If you need your family member to prepare psychologically for the week’s meal, share it with them.
3. Have a Plan for the Three Meals Everyday
Not planning for three meals every day increases your chances of visiting the drive-thru or skipping meals. If you have a day job and fear that you could be late for work, preparing a family meal plan with easy-to-prepare breakfast foods can help you save time.
Don’t throw away your leftover; instead, use them for subsequent meals. For example, if you have leftover dinner, use them for lunch. Maximizing your leftovers will save you time because you’ll not spend time preparing food from scratch.
4. Take a Good Look at Your Family Calendar
Will you be staying late at your workplace for a meeting? Will you be visiting your in-laws for Friday night dinner? Or do your kids have a sporting activity that will keep them out till late? You need to consider all these when you are preparing your family meal plan for the week.
Knowing your family’s schedule will help you plan well. For example, you can take a night off if you and your family visit your in-law and prepare a crock-pot meal for a sporting activity night.
5. Create Your Menu With What You Have on Hand
The first step to implementing this family plan idea is to organize everything in your kitchen, including the fridge and the pantry. Group the foods you have in your pantry, including sauces, baking ingredients, condiments, pasta, coffee, canned food, etc.
The next thing is to check out if any of these foods have gone bad or expired. Throw any of those that have expired so that you can create space for other foods still safe for use.
If you’ve organized your kitchen and thrown away any expired foodstuffs, record what you have and what you and probably the quantity. Plan your family meals using the inventory you have. This will not just save you time but also trim down your weekly grocery expenses.
6. Plan Your Family Meals in Line With Your Grocery Store Circular
Depending on when your local grocery runs their weekly sales, plan your family meals. Most groceries run their weekly sales circulars every Sunday, but this can change depending on the state you live.
The reason for this is that you want to save on every available opportunity. For example, if your store offers five-pound packs of chicken breast at $2.50, grab the deal and update your family meal plan to accommodate the new delicacy.
7. Plan With Foods in Season
Harvest seasons are always my best because you can find fresh produce at lower prices. This is when I update my family meal plans to take advantage of the seasons.
If you always cook specific meals during the summer season, updating your meal plan when winter finally comes will be a brilliant idea. Foods like vegetables, sweet potatoes, and squashes are some of the meals you can shift to when winter comes.
Family meal planning with seasons in mind makes it easier when you jump over from one season to the next. You don’t have to start thinking about the perfect meals for either winter or summer as you already figured them out with your meal planning ideas notebook.
8. Clear Your Leftovers
If your family tends to throw leftovers, you need to introduce the “clean out the fridge” approach to eat all the leftovers in the fridge instead of throwing them.
Additionally, check to see if your pantry has any canned foods that will expire soon and consume them before their expiration date. This will help you minimize waste and duplicate purchasing, saving you money.
9. Double Batching Your Family’s Favorite Will Do
Do you remember asking your family to write down their favorite meals? Well, you can prepare these foods in batches and store them in the fridge; the more of these batches you have in your fridge, the less stress you’ll have thinking about what to cook throughout the entire week.
For example, if you had grilled chicken the previous night, it would be a better idea to grill a few more chicken and shred once they have cooled. Store this in your freezer and use it for soups, chili recipes, salads, or quesadillas.
Additionally, you can make a double enchiladas batch. Let one of the pans go into the oven, cover the other with foil, and then store it in your freezer. Whenever you want your family to have enchiladas again, thaw your pan overnight and bake your enchiladas for your family’s dinner.
10. Follow Your Meal Plan to a Tee
It is fun creating a family meal plan; writing down the meals you will prepare throughout the week, but implementing is the biggest nightmare for many. And this happens because you could be held up somewhere.
Try and go through your meal plan every day to see if everything you need is available and whether you need to adjust – maybe because you lack some ingredients, or you won’t have the time to create a specific meal.
The reason why this is important is that unexpected things could happen. For example, there could be a parade in town, limiting your access to specific areas. This can result in a massive disappointment from your family.
Grocery expenses can run your bank dry, but you can trim your grocery budget with a good family meal plan. The first step to eliminating overspending and taking so much time thinking about what to feed your family is to check what you have in your pantry.
Write down everything you lack in your shopping list and purchase for an entire week. Once you have everything, you’ll need, create a family meal plan using the ideas explained above. One idea that I love is asking your family their favorites.
It’s now your turn – do you have a family meal plan, or have you ever thought about having one? How do you manage your family meal plan? And what challenges are you facing with your meal plan? Please leave a comment and let me help whenever I can.