Simple Weekly Family Meal Plan

Does the idea of weekly family meal planning put you in a sour mood? You aren’t alone. Although, believe it or not, the practice isn’t nearly as daunting as it’s made it out to be – especially once you’ve put it into practice a few times!

If you’re looking for some motivation to start weekly family meal planning, then you’re in the right spot. Not only are there some great benefits to the practice, but developing weekly family meal plans can be a fun process for the whole family!

Ready to get started? Then let’s dive on in!

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Benefits of Weekly Family Meal Planning

While meal planning is intended to help you save time and money, it can often induce stress for some parents. Why – because the thought of having to shop for, cook, and then stick to a plan isn’t always as easy as we hope. Not only that, what if your family simply doesn’t want whatever you make?

Here’s the thing, we already know how picky young children can be, and significant others for that matter. Research has shown that approximately half of children are picky eaters. So, instead of forcing it, you should make it your goal to sit down for your weekly family meal planning and make it a fun experience for the whole family – after all, there are many benefits to regular meal planning, including:

Fostering Healthy Relationships with Food

Your relationship with food begins early on – and no, we don’t mean your need for food, but rather, how you perceive your need for food. Sure, being a picky eater is expected as a young child to some degree or another. However, if you never experience the wide variety of foods available, you lose out on more than a tasty experience. You can also run the risk of missing out on vital vitamins and nutrients that you can only get through food consumption. Weekly family meal planning helps ensure that everyone in your family is getting the necessary servings needed to live a healthy lifestyle.

Weekly family meal planning also fosters a healthier relationship regarding when to eat. By planning out your meal times, your children will learn at an early age that food is fuel for the mind and body, not just an activity to partake in when you’re bored with nothing to do. The latter contributes to the fact that nearly two-thirds of all adults and approximately one-third of children in the United States are either overweight or obese.

Use this time to educate your family on good food and beverage habits and explain why this is good for them. You’ll be surprised at just how excited your family gets when they learn what food choices are good for them.

Saving Time Throughout the Week

The idea of weekly family meal planning can seem rather daunting – what with the planning, the shopping, and all the cooking…

However, with a simple switch in your mindset, you’ll see that while a few hours a week will need to be dedicated to the process, the rest of your week starts to open up substantially! Instead of spending an hour or two every day cooking dinner, another 20-30 minutes per breakfast/lunch/snack prep per day, you’ll have extra time to commit to yourself and your family.

Conserving Money

While saving you precious time throughout the week, one more enticing benefit of weekly family meal planning is the ability to save some extra money in the process. Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, there are dozens of helpful guides online that help you shop for a family while maintaining a reasonable budget!

Seriously – Pinterest has some excellent guides on how to find the best deals, get the most bang for your buck, and so much more!

2 Ways to Approach Weekly Family Meal Planning

Tired of trying to reinvent the wheel? Aren’t we all! The good news is that once you’ve found what your family enjoys, creating alternating weekly family meal plans is much easier than you think! It all comes down to the approach you choose: simple or meal by meal.

1. Keep it Simple – Focus Your Attention on Dinnertime

Let’s be honest; as a busy family, it’s likely you only sit down for one “meal” a day. Now – we aren’t saying you don’t have breakfast and lunch, those just happen to be simpler meals that can be grabbed from the fridge or packed ahead of time.

Instead of worrying about the nitty-gritty of all three meals (and snack time, of course), focus your weekly family meal planning on the one meal a day you’ll all be sharing together – dinner.

A great example is a seven-day dinnertime meal plan. During your planning, you want to condense the number of needed ingredients as much as possible. However, that doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing day in and day out.

If you buy chicken and pork for the week, this can be used in several dishes, including:

  • Seasoned Chicken – Monday
  • Porkchops – Tuesday
  • Chicken Caesar Salad – Wednesday
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches – Thursday
  • Leftovers - Friday
  • Chicken Noodle Soup – Saturday
  • Pot Pie – Sunday (can use either of these proteins!)

Proteins are often the most expensive item on your shopping list. So, by focusing on different ways to use the same few primary proteins, you simply need to make a list of necessary ingredients to help you build each dish. Again, in most cases, you’ll be able to use many of the same ingredients to create new, fun dishes throughout the week.

2. Plan Out the Entire Week Meal by Meal

If you keep in mind the goal of minimizing your shopping list and repurposing ingredients as often as you can, then you can also create an entire weekly family meal plan that covers each meal of the day. Yes – this method will take a bit more time. If you include your family in the process, the time spent can be turned into a fun family activity instead of just another chore.

In this case, you’ll want to make sure you are accounting for all your family’s nutritional needs. If you’re not quite sure where to start, then you may want to check out the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate website! It is chock full of helpful resources about planning family-friendly meals, including recipes, educational videos, family-friendly activities, and even sample menus

When planning your family’s weekly meal plan, you want to keep one rule in mind: Keep It Simple! Let’s take our dinner plan from earlier and expand it into a full 7-day family meal plan, which could look something like this:


  • Breakfast – Oatmeal with raisins & juice/milk
  • Lunch – Lunchmeat wrap with a side of baby carrots
  • Snack – Cup of yogurt & fresh fruit
  • Dinner - Seasoned chicken with a side of noodles and green beans


  • Breakfast – Cereal with a mixed fruit cup
  • Lunch – PB and banana sandwich
  • Snack – Celery sticks with salad dressing/dip and 1 medium banana
  • Dinner - Porkchops with a side of potatoes and corn


  • Breakfast – Oatmeal with raisins & juice/milk
  • Lunch – Lunchmeat wrap with a side of celery sticks
  • Snack – Pretzels with hummus and 1 medium banana
  • Dinner - Chicken caesar salad with croutons and salad dressing


  • Breakfast – Cereal with a mixed fruit cup
  • Lunch – PB and banana sandwich
  • Snack – Popcorn and a halo/clementine
  • Dinner - Pulled pork sandwiches and baked potato


  • Breakfast – Oatmeal with raisins & juice/milk
  • Lunch – Lunchmeat wrap with a side of baby carrots
  • Snack – A cup of yogurt and fresh fruit
  • Dinner – Leftovers


  • Breakfast – Cereal with a mixed fruit cup
  • Lunch – PB and banana sandwich
  • Snack – Pretzels with hummus and 1 medium banana
  • Dinner – Chicken noodle soup made with fresh veggies


  • Breakfast – Oatmeal with raisins & juice/milk
  • Lunch – Lunchmeat wrap with a side of baby carrots
  • Snack – Popcorn and a halo/clementine
  • Dinner – Pot pie (with mixed veggies included)

*Note: This is only a sample menu to give you an idea of combinations that can work for the whole family. Make sure you take the time to consider all the necessary food groups for each member of your family.

Preparing for Your Week Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

Weekly family meal planning doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Sure, getting started with this routine can be a bit daunting and time-consuming, but what new habit isn’t? Once you start to figure out what works and what doesn’t and what foods your family enjoy, weekly family meal planning will become just another part of your weekly routine!

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