Are weeknight meals always a hassle? Half the battle is simply choosing what to eat! By using a family dinner planner, you can cut the indecision out of your weeknights. It will also help you save time and even money. The key is to keep it simple and plan smart.
Here’s our rundown of how you can maximise your weekly meal plan and why you should make one in the first place.
Why You Need a Family Dinner Planner
So many people put the entire concept of meal planning in the ‘too hard’ basket. They think that it will take too long, require a long list of groceries they wouldn’t usually buy, and will ultimately make their weeknight routine harder, forcing them to cook complicated meals every night. The beauty of meal planning is that it actually does the exact opposite of all these things.
What Meal Planning Isn’t
Meal planning isn’t about planning an elaborate, exciting menu for the week. It’s about seeing your average week of meals ahead of time so that you can be smart with your groceries and cut down on cooking time.
Without meal planning, you may find that you cook a curry one night and a stir fry later in the week. Both these meals could have exactly the same base (diced onion and minced garlic) and are served with rice, but you wouldn’t think of this until stir-fry night rolls around. This means that you are preparing and cooking the same bases twice in one week.
With meal planning, you’ll be able to see into the future. On curry night, you know that stir fry is coming up, so you can chop up an extra onion and cook double the amount of rice. When stir fry night comes around, you’ll have a head start on the cooking process without having put in any extra effort. You’re still cooking exactly what you would be in a normal week, you’re just saving yourself time.
The Best Way to Meal Plan With a Family Dinner Planner
Have no idea how to make a meal plan? We’ve got your back! Here is our quick and easy guide to planning out your weekly meals.
Make a List
Before you do anything, make a shortlist of your go-to meals and sides. There is no need to get fancy, our tried and true recipes are quick, easy, and hit the spot every time. Writing down all the dishes you know how to cook will give you an easy reference list so that your mind doesn’t go blank every time you meal prep.
While you’re making your list, organise them into categories. Easy categories to follow are:
- Pasta dishes
- Bakes (veggie bake, shepherds pie, etc.)
- Proteins (roasts, BBQ, Grilled meats etc.)
- Rice dishes (Curries and stir-fries)
- Sides (salads, vegetables, potato bake, mac & cheese, mashed potato etc.)
Match Meals With Similar Ingredients
Once you have a complete, categorised list of your cooking repertoire, you’ll easily be able to pick out recipes with like ingredients. Now all you need to do is pick and choose one meal for each night of the week, matching up meals that have the same base, meat, or side.
This is where your personal preference comes into play. If all you want is for your weeknight cooking to be as quick and easy as possible, choose meals from one category and select one side. This way you can cook the base and sides for all those meals on the first night, drastically cutting down your cooking time for the rest of the week.
Meal Planning Doesn’t Have To Be Boring
If the idea of a full week of rice dishes for dinner sounds boring and unsatisfying to you (we get you!), follow the rule of two. Fill your weekly family meal planner and grocery list with pairs of dinners that have the same or similar bases. Split up the order of your dinners so that you’re never eating dishes from the same category two days in a row. An example of this might be:
Monday - Spaghetti bolognese and salad
Tuesday - Curry
Wednesday - Fish with baked potatoes and salad
Thursday - Stir Fry
Friday - Sausages and Mash
This meal plan won’t by any means leave your tastebuds bored, but it will cut down your prep time with each passing evening. On Monday you can cut up the onion and garlic base for the spaghetti, curry, and stir fry. You can also make the salad for Monday, Wednesday, and maybe even stretch it to accompany Friday’s meal. Cook rice all at once for Tuesday and Thursday, then mash Wednesday’s leftover baked potatoes into Friday’s mash.
With just a little planning, you have cut down your cooking time four out of five weeknights, and simplify your grocery shop by choosing recipes with similar ingredients. You could even save money by buying them in bulk!
Save Time & Money With A Weekly Family Meal Planner With Grocery ListLooking for a weekly family meal planner with grocery list that will make your weeknights easier? Check out ourFamily Dinner Planner, orBrowse Our Collection to choose the right wall planner for you. For more awesome tips and guides, check out ourBlog.