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Family Meal Planning

5 Ways to Plan Your Family's Weekly Meals

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A picture of a family enjoying a meal together

Plan your family's meals in advance so you'll always know what's for dinner.

Photo © Tom Grill / Getty Images
Make family meal planning easy. Save time, money and always know the answer to the burning question, "What's for dinner tonight?"

Make a Menu for Your Meals

Families have their favorite meals. Every other week, your family may eat meatloaf, green beans and mashed potatoes with cherry pie for dessert.

Family meal planning can be simplified with a menu for your favorites. On a piece of paper, write the name of the entree, side items and dessert. Flip the page over and write the ingredients for each recipe. Store your menus in a folder.

When it's time to gather your meal plans for the upcoming week, take out your folder and look through your menus. Your grocery list is already written out on the back of the menu.

Create a Shopping List That's Always Ready to Go

Keep a small notebook that contains the ingredients to the recipes in your meal plan. This notebook can live in your purse so it's always with you. When you're at the store, pull out your notebook and easily flip through your family's favorite recipes to easily find the ingredients you need for your meal plan.

You'll save time and money with this ready-to-go shopping list of your staples. Your kitchen pantry will stay stocked and you won't have one of those moments where you realize you're out of a key ingredient for tonight's dinner.

Get Your Family's Input

Before you make your family's meal plan, only to find out Susie would like a special meal served the night of her piano recital, ask for your family's input. You can let everyone in your family make a request or rotate their turns week by week so you have more control over your meal plan.

You may not be able to accommodate all of their requests each week. But getting feedback from your family takes the burden of coming up with 21 meals for the week off of you.

This tactic also gets those picky eaters involved in meal planning. Letting them have a voice in some of the meals they eat can give you leverage in getting them to try new foods on the nights you've planned the meals.

Use a Meal Planning Worksheet

Print a meal planning worksheet to keep track of the meals you plan to serve in the coming weeks. After you print a blank worksheet, go through your family calendar to see which days you won't need to prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner.

For example, if your family will be at the ball field Friday night and the team usually goes out for pizza afterward, cross off that day's dinner from your worksheet. Meal planning will be much easier on you if you can narrow down the days you won't even be at home to prepare food for your family.

Try an Online Meal Planner

Want a little help planning your family's meals? Online meal planners do everything from send your family recipes to choose from for the week to allow you to customize and print your family's meal plans and shopping lists.

Many are free but some do charge a monthly fee to use their meal planning services. If you prefer to have some guidance in your family meal plan, though, the cost of an online meal planner may be worth it to you.

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