Episode 130 How to Make a Weekly Meal Plan
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Meal planning can be a challenge, especially if you are a beginner. Most meal plans don’t work because they miss the biggest thing about weeknight dinners. It is not about the recipes; it is about time management.
A meal plan that does not start with your schedule will quickly fall apart in real life.
This week on the podcast, I’m walking through the Feed Your Family Tonight weekly meal planning system to teach you how to plan dinners that work for your schedule. Before I got into the habit of meal planning, I spent a lot of energy during the day thinking about what I was going to when dinnertime rolled around. If you can spend 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning of the week and write out your meal plan, you will save yourself so much brain space.
Be sure to get the free printables so you can follow along:
Click here for the Master Meal Planning Worksheet
Click here for the Weekly Meal Plan Sheet
Step 1: Write out your schedule for the week.
For each day, consider how much time and energy you will have available to spend making dinner. Are you going to have a day where you have meetings back-to-back at work and you know you’re going to be exhausted? Do you have the kind of day where you don’t have a lot planned and you might have some energy to do some extra meal prep so you can be successful later in the week? Know your schedule so you can plan the kinds of meals that work for different days.
Step 2: Set your dinner bell.
Now that you can see your activities at a glance, try to pinpoint the best times to come together as a family. Be sure to consider your own schedule and how much time you have available for cooking, as well as what commitments other family members have each night. If you need to eat in shifts, that’s ok! Setting a dinner bell helps everyone know what to expect at dinnertime.
Step 3: Add in your meal ideas for each day.
Consider the unique needs of each day as you choose recipes. You might want to look at the weather forecast so you can plan soup on a cold, rainy day or hamburgers on a day that’s nice for grilling. Your schedule will be the biggest factor. Plan a stir-fry (which requires more hands-on cooking time) on a night when you’re supervising homework time and do a crockpot meal when your afternoon is full of carpooling to kids’ activities.
Step 4: Plan out your prep for each meal.
Think through the steps and ingredients for each meal. When do you need to thaw your meat? Do you need to pick up an ingredient from a specific store? Work backwards and write the prep activities on the day you need to do them.
Step 5: Always have a back-up meal.
Life happens, so you should always keep ingredients on hand for a meal that can be on the table in 20 minutes or less. Make a list of backup meals that can be pulled out of the freezer or pantry when you need to get dinner taken care of on the fly.
Here are some easy backup meals:
- Breakfast for dinner
- Spaghetti with marinara sauce and frozen vegetables
- Omelets using whatever ingredients are in the fridge
- Frozen pizza, a bagged salad and fruit
Remember, weeknight dinners are not about the recipes. Weeknight dinners are about time management. I cannot emphasize this enough. If we were just about recipes, no one would have trouble getting dinner on the table, on busy weeknights because we have a million recipes on the internet in the palm of our hand. The key to making weeknight family dinners a reality is to have a plan.
Need some help with your meal plan? Join us in the Feed Your Family Tonight Facebook group or find me on Instagram. I would love to help!
Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.
For a transcript click here.