OKAY. SO I shared my meal planning binder a couple weeks ago and got SO many responses asking how I meal plan, what my grocery shopping schedule looks like and how I keep meals organized for our family throughout the week. I promise this is not a brand new idea – but it’s what works for us! For reference – we have 3 people eating meals in our family: Me, my husband and our 2.5 year old. Baby won’t be eating anything other than breastmilk for awhile so I don’t have him included in this count. Let’s jump into this!!
HOW I MEAL PLAN FOR A FAMILY OF 3 EACH WEEK
Meal planning tools:
So I use the above list to plan our meals for the week. I do my meal plan in 2 week increments because I do a big grocery trip every 2 weeks so that makes the most sense.
The first thing I do is decide on all my meals. I typically plan 5-6 dinner meals over a two week period. So our week could look like this:
- MONDAY: Lasagna
- TUESDAY: Leftovers / FFY
- WEDNESDAY: Taco Soup
- THURSDAY: Leftovers / FFY
- FRIDAY: Take Out
- SATURDAY: Chicken Broccoli Rice One-Pot Meal
- SUNDAY: Dinner @ Moms
So we typically have 2 days of leftovers, 1 take out night, 3 dinner days and we spend Sunday nights at my moms for our weekly family dinner. “FFY” means Fend For Yourself – aka: if you don’t like the leftovers or don’t want to eat them, you have to find something else on your own because a new meal isn’t being cooked.
Knowing I have this typical outline for myself, it makes choosing meals and prepping the cooked meals way less stressful. So, the next step is to choose my dinners. I go through my recipe book and Pinterest and usually come up with 7-8 options. Adam and I then go through and pick the ones we are both most excited for and those are the ones we go with!
From there, I pull out my meal planning binder. This is a calendar + binder that has spots for me to plan out all our meals and write my grocery list every 2 weeks. I sit down with all my recipes and decide what we don’t already have in the house and make my dinner grocery list. This list is specifically for foods for our dinners. This list is the most detailed and important because they’re ingredients for specific meals. I will put the meals down on the days we will be cooking them so that I can refer back to this later.
In my binder, I then also make a loose list of breakfasts / lunches for Jack and I. I don’t feed Jack lunch on the days he is at my mom’s for his childcare so I don’t have to worry about an extra lunch here for him then. BUT I know I will need to plan lunches for him 3 days of every week. Adam and I often have leftovers for lunch or sandwiches, so as long as I keep typically bread, cheese, meat, etc. in the house – we are usually good with that. I have a go-to list of breakfasts that Jack likes and that I like so when I make my grocery shopping list, I tend to pull ideas from that. I also make sure that fresh produce, snacks and anything else we like to eat or make throughout the week is on my list.
After I’ve filled out my binder for the next 2 weeks, I head into the kitchen where I fill out my weekly meal plan board! This just keeps us up-to-date on what meals are coming up and helps to remind me when I need to defrost things ahead of time or prep meals early in the day, etc. This board is our family calendar but I have our meal plan on the side so I can see it every time I’m in the kitchen. This only includes dinners. I also make any last minute changes or updates to this board in real time (if we need to switch a meal day, etc).
If we had a bigger family, we’d obviously have less leftovers so this wouldn’t be as feasible when it comes to only making 6 meals / two weeks. BUT this is what works for us right now. I love that I don’t have to worry about cooking every single day, and I typically double batch things so that we DO have leftovers for lunches / dinners.
I have not always loved cooking or meal planning, but over the last year I’ve come to really enjoy it!! I really like the days I cook and get to spend time making yummy meals for the people I love so much!
I hope this helps you create a plan for your own family in a really easy and attainable way.
PIN THIS FOR LATER: