We all cook at home and have to feed our families! It’s something we’ve been doing for years, and something we’ll have to do until the end of time. Why not talk about it more? I’m finally sharing the easy step-by-step meal planning system I created to help us stick to our weekly menu. It’s helped streamline our meal-planning and truly helps us stick to our grocery budget as well. Keep reading to see my process and grab a downloadable meal planning sheet for easier, quicker planning.
My Weekly Meal-Planning Process
When I first started out as the head of the grocery and meal planning in our home, I felt overwhelmed. I knew I needed to streamline the process, but wasn’t sure where to start. Looking back, I realized I just needed some structure and tools. I didn’t have a set grocery shopping day. I also didn’t have any of my go-to recipes bookmarked, or any specific way to organize our meals. It was a daunting task to try and put something together each week. I realized something needed to change.
A couple of years ago, five years into marriage and adulthood, and two kids later, I decided to make a plan! Here is what I did:
01. I made a set grocery day.
This is especially helpful in sicking to the budget. You aren’t running to the store every other day. When I was teaching, Sunday was my shopping and meal prep day. Now, I shop with both my girls in tow on Mondays. Therefore, I plan our weekly meals out from Monday evening dinner to Sunday evening dinner.
02. I bookmarked all of my favorite recipes.
We use a free app called MealBoard that allows you to bookmark your favorite recipes from the web. You can also just keep them in an Excel or Word document on your computer, or write them down! This step is just about saving the ones you know you’ll repeat, so you aren’t having to remember them again, or hunt them down later on. Keep it simple for yourself!
03. I assigned a special meal-type for each day of the week.
This is my secret when we plan our meals. I assign each day a specific style of food. Mexican food, pasta, pizza. Each day gets a style. This way, when I get to Thursday, I know we are having veggie burgers. I just need to decide what kind of veggie burgers! Chickpea burgers. Black bean burgers. Sweet potato burgers. It has truly been the missing link even when I would meal plan several years ago. This helps everything go quicker and smoother.
To understand the process through which I create our weekly menu, I’ll walk you through the style of food we have assigned to each day, and add a few details!
Here is our current food-style weekly menu:
Monday – veggie bowl night (this is usually 3-4 different veggies, a protein like chickpeas or hummus, and a base like quinoa, rice, or potatoes!)
Tuesday – mexican food night (walnut tacos, quinoa taco meat, nachos, quesadillas… we love Mexican food night.)
Wednesday – soup night (we just choose our favorite soup recipe!)
Thursday – veggie burger night (this could be a chickpea based burger, a sweet potato based burger, or a black bean based burger) we have several recipes we rotate here!
Friday – pizza/Italian night (is it even Friday if you don’t eat pizza for dinner? We also do Italian food sometimes if we aren’t feeling like pizza! We usually make this at home, but sometimes we will get take-out!)
Saturday – usually a restaurant meal but sometimes we try a new to us recipe instead.
Sunday – if we aren’t eating at a restaurant or getting take-out on Sundays, we do breakfast for dinner pretty regularly!
A note about meals out vs. cooking at home. We cook at home 5 or 6 nights out of 7. Sometimes we do one dinner out on the weekend and one breakfast out. We budget for 2 meals out though, so we just decide when we want those to be when plan our meals out.
04. I plan out every meal for the whole week, breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
I plan out our weeks by using the list from our MealBoard app (or really from memory now), and create my grocery list as I assign each day a specific meal. I do the same for our go-to breakfast and lunch recipes. Typically I’ll choose 2-3 breakfasts and just alternate between those each day of the week. Same for lunch. I’m extremely simple when it comes to our breakfasts and lunches. We also eat a ton of whole foods plant based meals which keeps our meals nutrient-dense and low in cost. Sometimes I use shortcuts like pre-made hummus or salad dressing, but we don’t buy a lot of processed food, in general! Check back on Saturday for my meal plan for next week!
WEEKLY MEAL PLANNING TEMPLATE
Part of sticking to the meal plan is posting it somewhere you’ll see it often! I created this meal-planning template that can be saved to your phone or downloaded to your computer to print off and laminate so you can post in your kitchen! You can just hold down one thumb on the image if you’re on your mobile device, then hit “save image”. If you prefer to download this to your computer to print off, I included links below to download!
If you do use this, please share on your IG stories and tag me! I’d love to see what you’re making for dinner and/or share them on my account!
NOTE: I created a few versions but they’re all the same. If you aren’t a “pizza on Friday’s kind of family” that’s okay! Use the third template and write in your own food style for each day! Is there something you’d like to see on the template that isn’t there? Let me know in the comments and I’m happy to try and accommodate!
DOWNLOADABLE WEEKLY MEAL PLANNING TEMPLATE
(Just click to download!)
I hope this blog post about my weekly meal-planning process was helpful to you!
Thank you so much for reading!