Making a successful meal plan can be one of the most challenging tasks each week, but we’re here with a free meal planning template to make things just a bit easier. It seems like it’s a never ending task and requires so much brain power. We are going to share a few tried and true meal planning tricks, as well as a free meal planning printable, complete with shopping list!
Tips for a successful meal plan
- Take inventory of what you already have. See what needs to be used up and try to incorporate those items. Also, look at what is running low and be sure to add those items to your shopping list. This step will save you money by avoiding duplicates or wasting food.
- Look at your calendar. Take note of busy days or evening events that will limit the amount of time you’ll be able to devote to dinner. Maybe those are takeout nights, or you want to plan for a slow cooker meal that can be ready and waiting for you when you get home.
- Consider the weather. I know this one might sound silly, but it is totally part of my process! There is something really comforting about a warm, hearty soup on a rainy winter day. Or, in the dead of summer, I plan for things that don’t require me to turn on the oven. The last place I want to be on a 100+ degree day is the kitchen! Here are some of my go too summer meals for when it’s too hot to cook.
- Rely on old favorites. Save the new, multi-step recipe you’ve been wanting to try for a weekend. Weeknights can be chaotic and often rushed, so be sure to plan on family favorite meals that are familiar to you and don’t require much prep or need you to pay close attention to the recipe.
- Double up. On nights you have a little extra time, consider doubling a recipe to save you from cooking the next night. Leftovers also make great lunches!
- Cookbooks to the rescue! In a slump? Find a recipe creator you love, and get their cookbooks. I love Gina from Skinnytaste. Her One and Done cookbook is easily my most reached for. I also love Gimme Some Oven and Damn Delicious.
Click here to get your free meal planning template + shopping list printable
The great thing about this weekly meal planning template is that the shopping list is attached. You can keep it all together, or you can cut it in half and take the shopping list with you to the grocery store.
Why Using a Meal Planning template is useful
I have found that the more I pull out of my head and get written down on paper, the better I feel. We talked in our most recent podcast episode about habits and routines. I shared I’m trying to write even the smallest tasks down to free up some brain space. I used to keep a running tally in my head about what we’d have for dinner. Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, I’d forget what was planned or forget ingredients. Getting everything on paper and using this free meal planning template and shopping list helps me execute better and helps keep me accountable. If I’ve made the time to make a plan and shop for ingredients, I’m more likely to actually follow through and make the meal.
Plus, as my kids get older, they like to know what’s for dinner too. When it’s right on the fridge, they can see for themselves, or even add their input of what they’d like to see on the menu!
Do you have a tried and true meal planning hack? Share it with us below!