Tired of staring at your kitchen cupboards every night and trying to figure out what to cook? Me too! That’s why I started planning our family meals out in advance with this easy to use meal planner. Evenings got a lot simpler when I could wake up in the morning, know what needed to be dethawed or prepared and then go about my merry way without the hassle of that evening ‘What do you want for dinner?’ questionnaire.
Family meal planners are not a new thing, but I could never find one that suited my needs exactly. They were all close but not quite what I wanted so one day I sat down and designed my own – and now I’m going to share it with all of you! This meal planner is so simple to make, the only materials you need are a three-ring binder, some page dividers, and the printables I’m sharing below. This family meal planner works best when combined with my strategies for Saving Money at the Grocery Store and Couponing for the Busy Family.
Contents of the Meal Planner
A Title Page
This can be easily slipped into the front of your three ring binder so that you will always know which binder is which. I don’t know about you but I have quite a few binders floatings around to try and keep my family organized, the kids have binders for school notices and papers they bring home every night, there’s a binder for bills and a binder for the budget and without a title page I find myself with an annoying stack to go through. Plus it just looks pretty, if we are going to have a Meal Planner why not have a pretty one?
Meal Index Page
This page should be the first page in your Meal Planner. The Meal Index Page is separated into categories and provides you with a quick look at all your family favorite recipes so that making your meal plan is relatively simple and quick. I love to sit down with my kids before going grocery shopping and let them choose a couple of meals off of this list, not only do they feel like they are helping out but it ensures that they will want to eat at least some of the meals I will be making this week. The Meal index page doesn’t contain every recipe my family enjoys (I would need a whole other binder to fit that many!) but only our absolute favorites, the recipes that we make on a regular basis and serves as a quick reference guide more than anything else.
Weekly Meal Planner
This page is your actual planner, Using your Meal index page you can sit down and sketch out a plan for every family meal you will have for the upcoming week, once you have a good idea sketched out on this page then you can move on to creating your shopping list and looking forward to an easy and successful grocery trip. The Meal Planner page is separated by both day and meal to make your life easier and provides plenty of room for writing in sides, desserts and anything else you might want to take note of.
The Pantry staple page of this meal planner is fairly straight forward, on this page you should list everything that your family should keep on hand at all times. I consult my pantry staple list when making my shopping list every time I go grocery shopping to make sure we aren’t running low on anything important Keeping an up to date pantry staple list will save you a lot of hassle in the grocery store and allow you to stock up when things go on sale. On my pantry staple page, I like to list my family’s favorite spice mixes, baking supplies, supplements and personal care goods that I hate running out of. Without this list, I just know that I will end up forgetting something at the store. Forgetting something at the grocery store means spending more money later. Repeat trips to the store mean that it’s more likely that we will buy something extra.
Everyone knows what a shopping list is! I like to break my shopping list up by department. This way I don’t spend a lot of time going back and forth across the store. When your shopping with kids it’s better to pass by the cookie aisle just once during your grocery trip. With this shopping list template, it’s easy to fill in the list. I consult my recipes and pantry staples to make sure that I don’t waste time or forget anything!
Last but not least I keep my favorite family recipes in my meal planner binder. This is where your page dividers come into play. At the back of your binder use page dividers to separate your recipes by category. This will make looking them up so much easier! When making your shopping list you will be able to quickly locate and consult your recipes. You won’t be missing any key ingredients when it comes time to actually cook your meal.
I really hope that this meal planner helps all of you as much as it has helped me! I’ve found that the key to saving money at the grocery store is in the planning. This meal planner really helps me stay on track. Even with a couple of kids trying their hardest to derail it all in the store! If you like this planner feel free to download it and use it for your own shopping trips!