After school or in the afternoons, my kids always ask me the hardest question of the day, “Mom, what’s for dinner?”
This question is worse than a pop quiz in algebra class, unless you are prepared with a weekly meal plan so you know the answer.
If we are sticking with math analogies, feeding your family is just half the equation. You also have to find a way to stick to your grocery budget and that is a challenge for any mom. But planning ahead and being prepared brings success! With this free printable meal planner, you’re on your way to feeding your family and knowing how to create weekly meal plans on a budget.
Whether you’re looking for meal planning beginners or just need a simple meal planner to track your family’s favorite recipes, read on for meal planning inspiration!
How to Use a Printable Meal Planner
Whether you use a monthly calendar or a weekly meal planner to make your family’s meal plan, it’s important to make your meal plan fit your life.
If you’re an on-the-go sports mom or you have young, picky eaters, you’ll want to focus on simple, easy meals that everyone will eat.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to stick to the same boring recipes until you’re sick of your own cooking.
Here’s how to save time while using a meal planner to feed your family food that they’ll actually eat.
Plan your meals around your schedule.
Start creating your meal plan the same way you would use a blank calendar. First, list any evening activities, travel plans, or guests who may need a faster or different meal. For example, write on your meal plan if you have a PTA meeting at 7:00 on Monday, sports practice on Tuesday and Thursday, and if you usually feed your son’s best friends on “pizza Friday.”
By noting upcoming activities, you’ll be better prepared to make slow cooker or Instant Pot recipes on the nights when you won’t be home. It’ll also help you remember to prepare enough food on the nights when you might have extra hungry mouths.
Use the grocery store sales to plan your main dishes.
You can save money by creating your meal plan around the sale ads at the grocery store. For example, if chicken and pasta are on sale this week, plan to serve chicken fettuccine alfredo one night.
If you have a deep freezer or large pantry, take meal planning one step further and stock up on your family’s favorite foods when they’re on sale. Then batch cook or create a monthly meal plan to make sure you use the food you buy.
Make your grocery list based on your meal plan.
Another way to save money by meal planning is to create a grocery list based on your meal plan and then stick to that list!
Keep a running grocery list on your phone or on the front of the fridge and add items as you get low.
However, before you shop, sit down, and set a budget. Then, finish your meal plan by reviewing the sales ad and add items to make everything on your meal plan. This is one easy way to make your weekly meal plans on a budget.
Two bonus tips you will need to stick to your grocery list. Don’t grocery shop hungry because you will be tempted to buy more things not on your grocery list when you shop hungry. If possible, shop alone. When my kids go grocery shopping with me, it’s much harder to stick to the grocery shopping list.
What You Need in a Printable Meal Planner
To create a comprehensive meal planner, you need a grocery list and a page to list your schedule and meals for the week.
However, if you struggle to find easy recipes or get bored with your own cooking, use your meal planner like a binder to store new recipes that you want to try. Look for recipes based on your cooking style (limited ingredient recipes, slow cooker or Instant Pot recipes, or one-pot meals for easy cleanup), dietary restrictions, or kid-friendly meal planning recipes.
For more meal planning inspiration, easy recipes, and printable grocery lists, get the full What to Cook for Dinner Meal Planning Bundle HERE.
Free Weekly Meal Planner
Get started meal planning with this free printable weekly meal planner. Use the space on each day to list evening activities as well as your planned recipe.
Deluxe Meal Planner
For a more in-depth meal planner, get our What to Cook for Dinner Meal Planning bundle which includes:
- The Deluxe Smart Mom Meal Planner
- 30 Instant Pot & Slow Cooker Recipes
- The Smart Mom Guide to Easy Dinners (a 4 week ready to use meal plan)
You will love the additional pages in the deluxe meal planner that simplify and make meal planning faster and easier than ever.
With this bundle, you will get:
- Pre-written dinner meal plans – 4 weeks of ready to use meal plans
- Delicious kid-friendly recipes for every dinner
- Quick and easy dinners you can prepare in about 30 minutes
- Deluxe Meal Planner to write your own meal plans
- Spend less time planning and preparing meals so you more time for things you enjoy
Filled with easy to make and kid-friendly recipes, the What to Cook for Dinner Meal Planning bundle answers your most difficult question of the day, “Mom, what’s for dinner?”
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