February 18, 2021 4 min read

Why create a weekly meal plan?

Creating a weekly meal plan has been a game changer for my family! And it's probably easier than you think. Here are the benefits of creating a weekly meal plan:

  • It will save you time
  • You'll spend less on groceries and eating out
  • Less stress from last-minute meal planning
  • You can better-prioritize healthy eating when it's planned in advance
  • The question of "What's for dinner tonight?" will have finally an answer!

weekly meal plan

How to Create a Weekly Meal Plan

1. Decide how many times per week you will eat out

I don't know about you, but when I get home at the end of a long day and there's not a plan for dinner, I resort to take-out or going out to eat at a restaurant. Eating out isn't cheap, and it adds up if you're consistent with it. Creating a weekly meal plan involves limiting how often you eat out each week.

Consider your finances and your budget if you have one. How much does your family set aside for eating out every month? Every week? From that number, create a cap on how many times your family can eat out each week. 

If budget is not as much of a concern, think about the health toll of eating out regularly. Fast food and eating out at restaurants isn't just expensive financially, it can cost you your health too. Most take-out meals aren't exactly healthy, especially compared to a home-cooked meal where you can control what goes in the dish.

2. Create a master list of your favorite recipes

Now that you know how often you're going to eat out, it's time to create a master list of your favorite dishes so you have recipes to pull each week. Half the battle of meal planning can be picking out what to eat each day. Eliminate the constant Pinterest searching and decision anxiety with a list of tried and true recipes your family loves. 

Decide how you want to organize your recipes. You can create a Pinterest board with your favorite recipes if you're tech savvy. Or you can get a DIY recipe book and fill it out with your favorite recipes. I chose the latter, and I have a recipe book from Lilly and Val that I absolutely love!

Have your recipe master list handy for step 4!

3. Make a weekly template for how many breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks you need to plan for

We've covered how often you plan to eat out and the recipes you'll have to choose from, now let's talk about making it into a meal plan!

Grab a piece of paper and a pen, a Google doc, or the Notes app on your phone. In bold letters, type or write out each day of the week. Under each day, write or type "Breakfast", "Lunch", "Dinner", "Snack", and any other category you might need to plan for. 

This is your template you can re-use every week. Save the Google doc as a template, make copies of your piece of paper, or save the Note on your phone and duplicate it each week so you have a starting point.

4. Write meals into the template

To start writing your weekly meal plan, write or type meals or designated eating out times into each spot. It's up to you on how detailed you want to get with your meal plan. I typically don't outline daily breakfast or snacks. I account for them for the entire week instead of each day. For example, I pick 2 breakfast items and 3 snacks to make for the week then eat them throughout the week.

Here's an example of one of my past weekly meal plans.

Monday

  • Breakfast
    • Green protein smoothie
  • Lunch
    • Ham and cheese sandwiches
  • Dinner
    • Taco bake casserole
  • Snack
    • Homemade guacamole

Tuesday

  • Breakfast
    • Cereal
  • Lunch
    • Leftover taco bake
  • Dinner
    • Grilled chicken and vegetables
  • Snack
    • Leftover homemade guacamole

Wednesday

  • Breakfast
    • Strawberry banana protein smoothie
  • Lunch
    • Grilled chicken salad
  • Dinner
    • Frozen pizza and breadsticks
  • Snack
    • Baby carrots with ranch

Thursday

  • Breakfast
    • Cereal
  • Lunch
    • Eat out for lunch
  • Dinner
    • Baked spaghetti with salad
  • Snack
    • Chips and salsa

Friday

  • Breakfast
    • Scrambled eggs
  • Lunch
    • Leftover baked spaghetti
  • Dinner
    • Grilled ribs and vegetables
  • Snack/Dessert
    • Ice cream sundaes

Saturday

  • Breakfast
    • Homemade french toast with eggs
  • Lunch
    • Naan bread homemade pizzas
  • Dinner
    • Eat out for dinner
  • Snack
    • Chips and salsa

Sunday

  • Breakfast
    • Cereal with a banana
  • Lunch
    • Leftovers
  • Dinner
    • Buffalo chicken pasta
  • Snack
    • Baby carrots and ranch

5. Create a grocery list based on the meals you're making that week

Once you have completed your meal plan outline, figure out what groceries you need to make your meals for the week. Be sure to check kitchen cabinets and the fridge before heading to the grocery store to make sure you don't buy an item you already have.

When you're at the store, stick to your list. One way to help you stick to your list is to go to the grocery store right after eating a meal. You'll be less likely to be tempted by different foods in the store and buy them out of hunger in the moment! Remember, everything looks good when you're hungry. It might look good now, but ask yourself, would you really eat it during the week?

6. Mark meals off the list as you make them throughout the week

Cross meals off the list as you make them. Have fun with it! You can even make a white board out of it so the entire family can see what's on the menu this week.

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