Why Every Family Needs a Meal Plan

“What’s for dinner?” 

That’s the common question asked at work around 4 almost every day. The majority of my co-workers don’t have any idea what they’re going to make for dinner when they get home at night. I was the same way until I started meal planning every week. 

We grocery shop every two weeks for our family, so every two weeks I sit down and plan our meals for the week. I sit down with our calendar to help me figure out what nights we aren’t eating at home, or if we need something quick and easy.

Over the years, I’ve learned some tips to make the whole process quicker and more efficient. Using the below tricks, I can plan my meals for the upcoming two weeks in as little fifteen minutes. The very first step is to actually take the time to sit down and do this. Make the time every week, or however often works best for your family. 

RELATED 10 Ways to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half

Here are some of my other favorite ideas:

1. Plan theme nights. Make Monday night “breakfast-for-dinner night”, or Friday night “pizza night”. Theme nights can narrow down your choices of what to make for dinner on a certain night. Get input from the rest of the family by asking for some of their theme night favorites. 

2. There are so many recipe sites available to find quick and easy meals, such as www.kraftfoods.comwww.allrecipes.com, and www.campbellskitchen.com. Keep them bookmarked on your computer for quick reference. Many will allow you to keep an online recipe box of your favorites.

3. Plan something easy on busy nights such as sandwiches, or something in the crock pot so you aren’t spending a lot of precious time in the kitchen. Make bigger meals like lasagna on the weekends. Use the leftovers for lunches during the week, or for another quick and easy meal another night.

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4. Re-use meal plans. Get a rotation of recipes you use every month to help take the guess work out of it. Google calendar is a great resource for this. Have meals repeating every 2 weeks or every month to help take the guesswork out of meal planning.

5. Have a “leftover” night or a “fend-for-yourself” night. This gives you a night off from cooking and to use up the leftovers in the fridge. Keep bread and other items for sandwiches for easy meals.

6. Keep a folder or file of favorite recipes. If you make something the family loves, save the recipe somewhere for easy reference. Print the recipe from online to save, or tear the page from the magazine. When you sit down to plan your meals, pull this out for easy, tried and true choices you know your family loves.

These tips will help take the guesswork every night of the age old question of what’s for dinner.

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Laura is a working mom of two that loves to write. She lives in Northeast Wisconsin with her husband and two daughters. She loves to read and go camping with her family. When she grows up she wants to be Tina Fey or Amy Poehler. You can learn more about her on her personal blog, notjust9to5.com.

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