Meal planning is such an important part of following a healthy lifestyle. Sitting down and planning out each meal for the week will save you money, time, stress, and help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals.
How does meal planning work?
Start with the menu planning template above. First you will need to check your schedule. You'll need to consider things like kid's sporting events, business meetings, doctor appointments, and any other arrangements. Next, consider how many people you'll be feeding and their schedules. Once you know how much time you realistically have to cook, you can plan meals that fit into your time frame.
Now that you know what your schedule looks like, you can begin filling out your weekly menu planner. Start with what you know and fill in what you don't later. If you know you're going out to dinner one night or have recipes that you use in a weekly meal rotation, start there. We always make a big batch of oatmeal in the crock pot as well as a breakfast casserole like this one every Sunday. This means my breakfast column looks the same for the entire week. Our snacks column is the same way. We make two batches of protein bars or protein bites on Sunday and snack on those in between meals or in the car when we are on the go. We also cut up a variety of fruits and veggies on Sunday and put them in individual tupperware for quick and easy access to healthy snacks all week. After you've filled in everything you know is on your schedule and added your routine meals, you can begin filling in the gaps.
This part requires the most thought and effort. Search for recipes that fit your family's taste and consider your time frame. Don't forget to factor in leftovers! We rely on leftovers for lunches 2-3 days a week, so that will likely contribute to your lunch column. If leftovers don't fill up any of your lunches, search for recipes you can make ahead of time. Be realistic! Are you really going to pack a lunch the night before or will you be tied up in other commitments and activities? I know I am just too exhausted by the end of the evening. When the kids are finally in bed, the chances of me working in the kitchen are slim to none. If you struggle with thinking of recipes, search pinterest, google, or your favorite cookbooks for some inspiration.
Make sure to fill in your grocery list printable with the ingredients for each recipe you add to your menu planner.
Print once and place your copy in a laminated sleeve in a binder. Use a thin dry erase marker so you can reuse your copies week after week!