The Tools I use to Plan Our Meals

Meal planning is a tool many people utilize for many different reasons.  For some, it’s all about saving money on the grocery bill.  They plan their meals and make their shopping lists from their plan.  For others it is about making meal time easier.  By planning their meals out in advance they avoid the daily “What to make for dinner?” dilemma.  And still others use meal planning to help them make meals ahead of time so that they can have quick, wholesome, nutritious meals throughout the busy work week.  Whatever the reasons, meal planning can be a very useful organizing tool.  With meal planning on brain, I thought I would share with you the tools I use to plan our meals.


My three favorite printables for planning our meals. |


The first item I use is my weekly meal planner.  Normally I only plan dinners as we’re a rather boring family when it comes to breakfast and lunch.  This planner is perfect because I can jot down ideas for those two meals and snacks, and yet there’s tons of room to really plan our dinners.

free printable, meal planning, home management binder
Meal Planner

I usually do up two of these at time, just because that’s how I shop.  I’m also thinking about posting it on the fridge each week.  That way when the boys ask what they can have for a snack, or for lunch, or for breakfast, they can take their pic from what’s on the list.  Also, we can all see what’s for dinner that night.  I haven’t actually posted them up on the fridge yet, because I’m famous for not sticking to the plan.  I plan our dinners, but that doesn’t mean I make them in the order I planned them.  Sometimes you just don’t feel like chicken, or sometimes that cold, rainy day is calling for beef stew instead of salad and sandwiches, know what I mean?

The next tool in my arsenal is this planner I shared last month during the 31 Days series.

Make Ahead Meals and Mxes list for the kitchen binder :
Make Ahead

I’m hoping to start planning and making more meals ahead of time.  Having a list of meals that I can make ahead of time is going to help me in the long run.  Right now the list is pitifully small, hence the lack of picture of it filled out.  But as time goes on I’m sure it will fill right up.  My goal is to start small.  Pick one meal to make ahead each week.  Once I get going I’m sure I’ll be cooking more and more ahead of time.

My latest addition to my meal planning arsenal, is my lunchbox ideas planner page.

Free lunchbox ideas printable. |
Lunchbox Ideas

This printable was originally slated to be shared during the 31 Days series.  I decided that it was time to start pushing our youngest to try new things.  Making pizza every week for his lunch was starting to be rather boring for me, and I wanted to encourage him to branch out some more.  With this planner page we can sit down together and plan his lunches.  Our teen handles his own lunch but I included two columns in case he wants to jot down ideas too.  You could also use this as a two-week lunch planner.  For now, it’s an idea sheet.  I’m going to challenge Liam to think of five different lunches he would like to have at school.  You’ll notice there is spot for a special treat.  Yes, I am that Mom!  I send a little treat, usually a homemade goodie, to school everyday.  (I did say little)  I started this last year when Liam was really struggling at school.  It was a little something to brighten up his day, and I’ve been doing it ever since.  Sometimes it’s not really treat at all, sometimes it might be a yogurt cup (something usually reserved for at home) or it might be a pack of Sun-Rype Fun Bites.  Whatever it may be, I try to pack him something special in his lunch.  Hopefully this little printable will help him explore more foods.

Those three printables are the tools I use to plan our meals.  I figure between the three of them I have our bases pretty nicely covered.  Now it’s your turn, I’m always curious to hear about what works for others.

Do you plan your meals?  If so why?  If not, why not?  Do you have go to planners?  Do you stick to your meal plan or do you use it as a loose guide?


Linking up at these great parties:  Serentity Saturday,

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