Inside: Get organized with this free weekly meal planning template. It puts your shopping list and dinner menu all in one place.
“I use it every week! I usually sit down and try to plan two or three weeks at a time. “It has been a turning point for me.”
Does meal planning sound good, but just In theory?
Desperately scrubbing the refrigerator at 5pm while a toddler tugs at your pant leg is no one’s idea of fun.
However, meal planning can also feel like just another task on an endless to-do list, like something other, more organized moms are doing.
If that sounds like you, I have a simple system to make it easier for you. Spend ten minutes on this meal planning worksheet at the beginning of the week and I promise you’ll spend less time, money, and brain space figuring out what’s for dinner all week long.
How These Meal Planning Worksheets Are Different
- They include a spot for your weekly menu plan, but only dinner, the hardest meal for most families to figure out.
- They have a place for your shopping list, because planning meals and creating a shopping list at the same time makes sense (and saves you time and money).
- Shopping lists are organized by aisle. So you won’t have to go back to the store.
- They come in one or two store versions. Depending on your shopping routine, you may visit a store or two (or if you’re like me, that may change from week to week). Either way, I have an option for you.
How to get these worksheets
- Choose the one or two store worksheet. You have two different options, depending on how you normally shop for groceries. Tap the pink buttons above to get one or both.
- Get your worksheet: Once you register, you will receive an email. Click the button in the email to access your free weekly meal planning worksheet. It will be in PDF format. Download it to your computer.
- Print the planner: You can print as many copies as you want so you have a new sheet each week (and if you want to meal plan for the entire month, print four).
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How to Use the Meal Planning Worksheet
Step 1: Make a dinner plan for the week
The first thing you should do is think about your meals for that week. At the top of the sheet there are boxes for the days of the week. This is where you will write down your dinner plan for each night.
Also think about what you do each night and what type of meals work for that type of night. For example:
- A Crockpot Meal for Piano and Baseball Practice Nights
- An extra easy meal idea like breakfast for dinner or sandwiches.
- Basic recipes of 30 to 45 minutes for the calmest nights
- A special weekend meal that requires more time (it’s also a good time to try new recipes)
- At least one night of leftovers or refrigerator cleaning (I call this “Foraging Night”)
- Maybe a night out or eating pizza.
There’s also enough space below each day of the week to write what’s happening that night (like “soccer game” or “late work meeting”).
Then, write some dinner ideas under each day of the week. He tries to build his meals around what he already has on hand, like chicken breasts in the freezer or broccoli he should eat soon.
If you’re having a hard time planning your entire week, plan just a few dinners a week to start. The important thing is that this system works for YOU and is sustainable.
Step 2: Create your shopping list and purchase
Fill out the shopping list portion of the meal planning worksheet with the items you need for your dinners, plus anything else for the week. The goal is to avoid unplanned trips to the supermarket to pick up forgotten items.
The shopping list is organized by category to simplify shopping and avoid zigzagging around the store.
Step 3: Publish your dinner plan
Cut off the top of the meal planning worksheet and place it where your family can see it, such as on the refrigerator or a closet door. It’s a great way to let your family know what’s on the menu that week. and Refresh your memory in case you need to take out the chicken to defrost or chop some vegetables ahead of time to save time.
Step 4. Rinse and repeat every week
Print a new weekly planning sheet whenever you need it.
Get Your Meal Planning Worksheet
Still not convinced?
Here are five advantages of meal planning:
You will feel less stress. When you have a dinner plan for each night, you will feel more relaxed and organized.
You will eat healthier. Having your meals planned means you won’t have to go through the drive-thru for fast food and you’ll have fewer trips to order takeout.
You will save money. When you plan your meals and make your shopping list at the same time, you can get everything you need in one trip and avoid last-minute trips to the store for a forgotten ingredient, which means a lower weekly bill. (Have you ever gone to the grocery store last minute to buy garlic, walked out with $150 worth of other stuff, and completely forgotten about garlic? Yeah, me too.)
You will save time. Walking around the kitchen looking for dinner (or running out to eat pizza) consumes valuable time. With a plan in place, you can take a moment the night before to put any frozen meat or poultry you need in the refrigerator to thaw and put in any items you’ll need, like an onion or spices.
You will waste less food. Approximately a third of the food we buy ends up wasted. Food waste is bad for the planet and your grocery budget. When you plan your meals, you only buy what you need, so you automatically waste less (and spend less).
My best meal planning tip
Choose your pain point. You don’t need to plan every meal of the day, just the ones that trip you up week after week. For most people, that’s dinner, but you can limit it even further. Maybe it’s Tuesdays, when both children play sports. Or on Thursdays, when you work late. Start by planning just that meal and then go from there.
Be real with yourself. Even the perfect meal plan won’t work if it’s not realistic for your lifestyle. If weeknights are crazy, plan slow cooker recipes or easy meals like sandwiches. Plan meals that require more time for the weekends.
Meal plan and shopping at the same time. When you create your meal plan and shopping list at the same time, you can rest assured that you’ll get everything you need and won’t have to rush back to make multiple trips to the grocery store to look for missing ingredients.
Embrace “clean out the refrigerator” night. Dedicate one night a week to getting all the goodies out of your refrigerator. Arrange them on a pretty platter, set them out buffet style, or if you have small children, serve them picnic style on a blanket on the floor. You will avoid wasting food or spending more money and everyone will be able to choose what they like the most.
Get More Free Worksheets
Need help with meal preparation? Get my free 4-week meal prep plan
Take it to the next level!
These free meal planning worksheets are a great step toward feeling less stress each week.
If you’re ready to get organized around dinner for good and have a plan each week (AND a solid backup plan), check out my Stress-free dinner planner. You can get a spiral-bound print copy or an instant-access PDF download.
It’s based on the foods YOUR family likes best and the schedule you have NOW and includes:
- a system to organize your family’s favorite recipes
- More Detailed Meal Planning Worksheets (Three Different Options)
- simple meal ideas
- a place to create backup plans when things go sideways