Meal planning will help you always know what’s for dinner without worrying about it every day. Below there is a meal planning template free printable that you can download. I’ve wanted to write an article about meal planning for quite some time now. For the longest time, I resisted creating a meal plan for my family’s dinners. In my mind, I thought it was too hard, and I never knew how much time I would have to spend on dinner. I thought planning it out ahead of time would be difficult. However, once I gave it a try, I was hooked. In this article, I will provide you with several reasons to try meal planning and of course give you a free printable meal planner template to make it easy to do.
Have a List of Quick & Easy Go-To Meals
The first thing I do is make a list of super-easy dinners that I can make for days when life happens, and I find myself in a time crunch. That way, if I’m not able to stick to my meal plan for that day, then I can easily pick one of the super-easy dinners and swap it out instead.
The key is to create this list for yourself based on what you and your family like to eat. By way of example, though, you can see my list below. These are easy to prepare meals that don’t take any prior preparation and don’t take a lot of time to make. I usually always have the ingredients to make them, so there are no extra trips to the grocery store necessary. This is going to save you so much time that you may not have realized you were wasting. All those additional stops or trips add up.
My quick and easy go-to meals are:
- Spaghetti & Meatballs
That’s it. If I have planned something in my meal plan and I come up short on time that day, I swap out one of the above meals that I can make in about 15 minutes. I always have a taco dinner on hand (as my family likes tacos), and I always have the ingredients for chili and spaghetti. It’s easy for me to grab the ingredients for these three meals during my regular grocery shopping trips, always to have them on hand. I know that as long as I keep these things on hand, I will always be able to prepare a quick meal my family will like. The meals may vary for your family, but the key is to have your quick and easy go-to meals for days when life doesn’t go as planned.
3 Major Benefits of Meal Planning
When it comes to managing your household and taking care of your family, meal planning can have a significant positive impact if you keep an eye on three areas: time, money, and health. By meal planning, keeping these three areas in mind, you will save time, save money and save you and your family’s health. Let’s look at each of these three areas.
Although initially, it may seem like extra work to plan your meals, in reality, once you start preparing nightly meals based on your plans, you will quickly find out that it is all going a lot quicker and smoother, and your family well likes your delicious meals.
When you plan your meals ahead of time, you can take you and your family’s schedules into account. You can prepare for easier to prepare meals on days where your schedule is packed. By planning, you will eliminate unnecessary trips to the grocery store. Additionally, once you have planned a few meals, you can reuse your plans saving you even more time.
When you plan ahead and shop from a shopping list, buy things when they are on sale, and plan your meals within a budget, you will save money. You will be amazed at how much money you can save by simply planning ahead and sticking to a shopping list based on pre-planned meals.
Another benefit of meal planning that saves you both time and money is that you will waste less food. Store your leftovers properly to make them last longer, and plan a leftover night into your meal plan.
Saving Your Health
When you plan out your meals ahead of time, you will be much less likely to stop for fast food or eat unhealthily. You can plan out healthy meals for your family that they like and do not involve the drive-thru. By focusing on healthy meals, your kids will also learn to eat healthily and carry that into their adult life.
Ways to Get Your Family Involved with Meal Planning
Explain to your family that everyone eats, so everyone should chip in and help with the family meals. Kids can start helping with simple tasks when they are very young. Make it part of their daily chores. Here are some age-appropriate chores for kids of different ages. Using a chore chart will also provide them with clarity and help keep them motivated.
Once your children start having opinions about the types of food they like to eat, they can provide you with input on what meals are planned each week. Older kids can even make the plan with your guidance.
Let your kids help you cook. Not only will this help you, but it will be teaching them cooking skills that they can use throughout their lives.
Enlist younger kids to set the table and clear the table. Get them started early with these tasks, and it will not only allow them to be part of the process of family meals, but it will also save you from having to do all of the work yourself and make mealtime a true family affair.
Hopefully, if you are not already meal planning, this article will convince you to give it a try.
Download the Free Printable Meal Planning Templates
You can download the free printable meal planning templates below. It has space for you to fill in your meals for every day of the week. There is also an area for you to write down your grocery list for the week based on those meals. There are two different styles to choose from. Pick the one that works best for you!
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