9 Helpful Tips for Better Meal Planning & Free Meal Plan Template

Are you struggling to make a meal plan? Use these tips and plan out your meals with the printable meal plan template to simplify the process. 

What is Meal Planning?

  • Planning out Meals for the Week.
  • Shopping for those Ingredients needed to make the meals in your Meal Plan.
  • Cooking the Meals that are on the Meal Plan. 

How to Set Yourself Up for Meal Planning Success 

Start by printing out this Free Meal Plan Template. Weekly Meal Plan Printable

Try New Recipes

This may seem like something that would make meal planning harder but actually it can make following a meal plan easier. The more variety added in can keep you from giving up on the meal plan and getting bored. 

Make a List of Go-To Meals

Everyone has a favorite meal that they look forward to eating each week. When planning your weekly rotation of meals, include the whole family and be sure to include as many favorites as possible before using the menu plan template to plan out your week. 

Make Theme Nights

It can be really easy to get into the habit of menu planning when you incorporate theme nights. An example of a theme night that would work well for meal planning is taco night, pasta night, or pizza night.

All of these theme nights make it easier to fill out our weekly rotation because when you are creating the list, it’s easy to fill in Friday if Friday is always pizza night. This makes sticking to a meal plan a little easier and it will limit the number of times your family asks what’s for dinner tonight? 

Check the Sales & Plan A BackUp Meal 

Whether you are the type to clip coupons or not, checking to see what is on sale is an essential part of creating a successful meal plan. This is not only due to saving money but this is also because knowing what is in stock at your local store helps to prevent a last-minute change in your meal plan.

Nothing will put an end to a well-organized weekly meal plan faster than a mid-store change of plans. Having to come up with one more meal to make and then actually pick out all of the ingredients needed is very difficult in the middle of the grocery store. Then when the night comes that you have to make your mulligan meal, you may be missing ingredients and need to run back out or give up cooking, neither of these options is very attractive, so thinking of a backup meal may be a good idea

Keep the Staples On Hand

Speaking of creating a backup meal, keeping the staples on hand is a great way to prepare for a night when your meal plan just can’t be followed. Whether you managed to forget something at the store, run out of an ingredient you thought you had plenty of, or something else came up that required a last-minute change of plans, having staples on hand will save the day. 

Keep non-perishable items like boxed prepared meals, canned veggies, and pasta in the cabinet. Stock up on freezer items that you have plenty of room for and can store for long periods of time. If you have a deep freezer, keep meats like chicken and beef well-stocked. Frozen vegetables and prepackaged microwaveable meals are also a good item to keep on hand for those nights when your plans change at the last minute. 

Do Your Shopping All at Once

Before going grocery shopping, plan out all of the meals ahead of time using the meal plan template.  This way you can make sure that you have everything you need for the week. There is no need to waste time heading back to the store when you plan everything right. Just make your weekly meal plan, and then buy exactly what you need for the week while at the store. 

Plan for Leftovers

When making larger meals that feed your family two nights in a row, make a note of this on your weekly meal plan. If your leftovers can be used for lunch, plan for this on your weekly meal plan.

Make meals that can be doubled as long as your family enjoys it enough to have it two nights in a row. This is a great way to save time, just be sure to add that into your weekly meal plan. One of my favorite meals to make for two nights in a row is this Homemade Chicken Soup Recipe

Homemade Chicken Soup Recipe

Take a Night Off & Plan for It

There is nothing wrong with ordering takeout if you like to order a pizza on Friday night. Just be sure to make that part of your meal plan. Being able to look forward to a night off from cooking can make the chaotic nights in the kitchen a little more manageable. Keep track of these nights on the printable weekly meal plan template. 

Keep Track of What You Already Have 

To track this easily, you can keep a list of what items you already have on a dry erase board. Be sure to update regularly so you know what you have used and what you have on hand. When using a deep freezer, get a magnetic dry erase board with a magnetic marker to stick right on the front for easy updating. This will make planning out a week of meals and grocery shopping so much easier.

For those of you who are more tech-savvy, take advantage of apps for your organizational needs. There are lots of apps available that will allow you to update and keep track of your inventory for free. I am a pen and paper kind of girl so I have no suggestions but I know they exist.

I hope these tips for making a weekly menu plan have helped you to stay organized and save time. If you made use of the meal plan template, be sure to save this page to Pinterest. That way you can always go back and reprint whenever you need a new one. Also, sign up for the free newsletter and follow along on social media so that you never miss a post. 

The Hobby Wife

The Hobby Wife

Greenhouse and backyard gardener, devoted homemaker, and passionate recipe creator. My journey through life revolves around my unwavering love for food and travel. As a passionate cook, I blend my garden's bounty with culinary finesse and inspiration from my travels. From farm-to-table homestyle dishes to copycat recipes that offer something unique, my kitchen is a canvas where flavors harmonize and ingredients tell stories.

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