Simplifying Meal Planning So You Don’t Have to Reinvent the Wheel Each Night

NEEDING A MEAL PLAN

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This evening I had to throw out two pounds of salmon that went bad in the fridge because I waited too long to use it. About 15 minutes after dinner was supposed to be ready, I returned home with take-out Pad Thai in hand.

Cooking is not my strong suit. Give me an event to plan, a group to lead, something to organize, I’m your girl. Hosting a dinner party gives me a panic attack. Seriously. Not because of the mess or the entertaining, but because of the food. I get nervous and sweaty when asked to bring a side dish or host a dinner. If food’s involved I struggle.

I feel like a fish out of water in the kitchen. If I do have people over or host an event, I either buy premade food or delegate food to my volunteers. It’s the first thing I love getting off my list. However, I can’t completely get out of it.I’m a stay at home mom so cooking is like 1/3 of my job. After eight years I thought maybe I could avoid it. Yikes. Ok, I’ve got to get it together. So this week I compiled a big list of all the recipes I enjoy. Once it became about organizing instead of cooking, I was motivated.

HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR MEAL PLANS WITHOUT STARTING FROM SCRATCH

1. USE WHAT WORKS

Go through your recipe books and tab everything you’ve tried and like. Make a list of your usuals. Call grandma and mom about your favorites from childhood. Write them down on these recipe cards:

2. CREATE A MEAL PLAN CYCLE

Print out the meal plan calendar below and fill in the blanks with meals. Print a second month if you need it. Otherwise, rotate through the month once you’re done.

MONDAY – THURSDAY: Homemade meals rotating through meat, poultry, and seafood.

FRIDAY: Order pizza or some other delivery. Make a family night of it! Play a game or watch a movie.

SATURDAY: Leftovers and grill out. Double up during the week to have leftovers to use for lunch. If your husband likes to grill, nominate him for dinner on Saturday nights!

SUNDAY: Keep it simple. Sandwiches for lunch and something quick and easy for dinner.

Fill in any blanks with any of these ideas: 

  • CHICKEN: casserole, baked, fried, stovetop, stir fry, shish kabobs, salad
  • PORK: ribs, sandwiches, sausage, spaghetti, chops
  • BEEF: steak, tacos, chili, meatloaf
  • TURKEY: tacos, chili, spaghetti
  • SHRIMP: old bay, scampi, teriyaki
  • FISH: salmon, tuna, tilapia, cod
  • GRILL: steak, chicken, shish kabobs, veggies, pork chops
  • SANDWICHES: ham, PBJ, egg salad, grilled cheese, chicken salad, Reuben
  • QUICK: breakfast dinner, premade rotisserie or sushi, soup, salad

3. PLAN YOUR WEEK 

Now take your month’s plans and break them down by week. Start with the first week and write down the meals. Post them on the fridge next to your grocery list.

Click the image to print your Weekly Meal Plan Template: 

4. BE FLEXIBLE! 

Give yourself permission to go out of order or change up the menu as needed. This is a tool to help simplify dinnertime, so make it easy on yourself. Cross off each meal as you go and make sure to thaw something out beforehand.

ONE MORE TIP!

My favorite thing to do is grocery pickup. I order Sunday night and pick up Monday morning. Now that you’ve got your meal plans organized, let’s work on your Cleaning Schedule!

You can also sign up for my weekly newsletter, and you get some FREE goal setting printables sent straight to your inbox!

Happy meal planning–you’ve got this! 

8 comments

    • Thank you! It has transformed my dinnertime and I hope it helps yours—I hate cooking mostly because of having to make decisions when I’m ready to take a nap at the end of the day!

  1. I keep trying to download the FREE printables, but it saves as a WEBPAGE only… so I can’t print it out.

    • Sorry you’re having trouble with this…it should open in Dropbox. Try clicking the three dots in the corner at the top and choosing export and then you should be able to print. If that doesn’t work I’d be happy to email you the pdf. Hope this helps!

  2. I dislike the dreaded question… “What’s for dinner?” I would be happy with a couple pieces of toast, lol. But seriously, cooking is NOT my thing either. I will have to try your ideas. I have never been able to meal plan. It’s the LAST thing I want to do!

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