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How to Create a Weekly Family Meal Plan

Feeding a family every single night can be an overwhelming task, especially if you don’t have a clear and organized plan. That’s where creating a weekly family meal plan comes into play.

I seriously don’t know what we’d eat for dinner if I didn’t sit down at the beginning of the week and plan out our meals!

Luckily, I have lots of things to share with you today that I think will help! I’ve got ideas for overall structure and tips for staying organized.

Plus I’ll be sharing plenty of actual recipes for dinners your family will love!

Chicken Pot Pie Noodles Photo

Ideas for Your Weekly Family Meal Plan

Idea 1. Have a different dinner theme for each night of the week. Like Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. Then, when you are sitting down to plan out the week’s meals, a huge initial step is already done and you are that much closer to choosing.

Idea 2. A family I know is pretty structured with their weekly meal plans. They choose a meal for each night of the week and repeat for an entire month or more.

And they love it because they only choose favorites to put in the rotation!

Sheet Pan Chicken Nachos Picture

They make little changes here and there so they don’t get tired of things – think green enchiladas instead of red, or carnitas instead of chicken tacos.

When the time period is over, they choose new meals for the next round.

I can tell you that I do a variation of this with my kids’ school lunches, and they haven’t complained about lunch boredom in nearly 2 years of doing so.

We have 10 lunches, five in Week A and five in Week B, and we just eat those same 10 lunches over and over for the entire school year.

Leftover Thanksgiving Enchiladas Picture

There’s enough variety and lunches only pop up once every two weeks. Doing this same idea with dinners would totally work!

To make things even more streamlined, you could realistically do it for two months without getting tired of the same dinners.

Idea 3. Assign everyone in the family a night to choose dinner. They can be in charge of making dinner or not, but the job of choosing the actual dinners is spread out so that no one has to come up with so many options on their own.

Pioneer Woman Mac and Cheese Recipe Picture

Tips for Staying Organized While Creating a Weekly Meal Plan

Tip 1. Get a cute notepad with a big magnet on the back that will stick to the fridge, and make a plan! Writing things down makes all the difference.

For me, writing down the plan means never throwing my hands in the air in a panic at 5 pm wondering what to make for dinner.

We might decide to make something easier (always pancakes or grilled cheese sandwiches) or get take-out if the night has just gotten crazy busy, but there’s never just nothing planned at all.

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Tip 2. Plan at least a little in advance. I usually sit down on Sunday afternoon or evening and make my menu plan for the week, but you can figure out what works best for you and your crew.

I make note of activities that will interfere with dinner or necessitate a super quick grab-and-go dinner or a slow-cooker meal or anything unusual.

Then I write out what we’ll have for dinner each night. I even add in a night of take-out here and there and make note of where we can eat leftovers.

Tip 3. After you make your plan, make your grocery list. Nothing induces a panic quite like being in the middle of dinner prep and realizing you don’t have a necessary ingredient.

Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage Picture

Tip 4. I have a friend who, after menu planning and shopping, organizes the ingredients for their upcoming dinners in small bins in the refrigerator. Genius!

Then all they have to do when it’s time to make dinner is grab the bin for the night, and everything they need is already there and ready to go.

Tip 5. Keep ingredients stocked for last-minute dinners for those busy nights that come up totally out of the blue.

Like I said, we always have the ingredients for pancakes or grilled cheese sandwiches on-hand, so if our plans for the night just fall apart, we have a back-up that is quick, delicious, and beloved.

Sheet Pan Sausage Dinner Image

Tip 6. Sheet pan dinners, Instant Pot meals, and slow cooker recipes can make dinner time so easy. Find some dinners in those categories that you love (if you have the right equipment), and put them into your regular rotation.

Recipes for Easy Weeknight Dinners

And now the moment you’ve read all the way down here for…some actual recipes that we love! All of these recipes are perfect for busy weeknights.

Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas Tostadas Image

Of course, easy dinner ideas are kind of our specialty around here so there’s loads more recipes where those came from!

Feeding your family can sometimes feel like a huge, overwhelming responsibility.

With a little preparation and some good organization, you can find a system that works for you that will make coming up with a weekly family meal plan feel like no work at all.