Friday’s 5 at 5: Meal Planning

There are a few things in life I actually hate and meal planning is one of them. I never know what to make for dinner. I feel like we eat the same things every week. Like the taco soup recipe I have pictured above. And Nathan is no help. He is the kind of guy that will eat whatever is placed in front of him. He doesn’t like to plan meals either. So if you are like me, here are a few methods to help make your life a little easier when it comes around to dinner time…

  • Weekly/monthly calendar. I have been doing the weekly meal planning for years. The down fall of that is if I don’t get my act together on Sunday or Monday, I don’t get the week planned and have no idea what to make the rest of the week. Then my friend told me how she started planning her meals a month at a time. I’m trying that now. So far not too bad.
  • Cozi meal planner. I use Cozi for my calendaring and was excited when they added the meal planner. You can plan your meals, drag recipes into the calendar that will store and save it for you. And it has a shopping list where you can figure out which groceries you need for the meals each week. Super cool.
  • Pick a theme. You can pick a theme for each day of the week – breakfast Wednesdays, Sunday leftovers, kids’ choice Fridays, crockpot Mondays and the likes. The only thing we consistently do on a weekly basis is breakfast for dinner. We all love it.
  • Meal swaps. This is a great way to mix food with friends. Switch off cooking for each other and that way rather than going out and spending money, you eat at each other’s home once a week for free. And it’s a great way to try out each other’s recipes. It is also a great way to get my children to try new foods when they see their friends eating it too.
  • Purchase a meal planner. I have never done this before but I’ve seen deals for purchasing meal planning programs. They provide the meal, recipes and give you a list of groceries to buy. Since I have never tried this before, I am not recommending any particular meal planning companies.

» Tell me… How do you plan your meals? Which method has worked for you? Why?

6 Responses to “Friday’s 5 at 5: Meal Planning”

  • Jill

    I like to plan my meals a month at a time. I plan 4-5 dinners/week and we eat leftovers the other days. I make a grocery list at the same time and buy the things with a long shelf life once/month. It saves time for me. If we don’t feel like what’s on the calendar for the day I’ll make something planned for a different day and cross it out so we don’t have repeats.

    I’ve also used Six O’Clock Scramble and really enjoyed that, although it’s a week at a time. It’s a good way to introduce new tastes into our schedule. We’ve found a few new favorites that way.

  • Melissa

    I plan weekly, but at the beginning of the year, I decided to simplify. I was wasting too much time searching for recipes each week cause I ‘forgot’ what we really liked to eat and what was tried and true in our house. So this year, I have themes for the days of the week. Monday Soup, Taco Tuesday, Pasta Wednesday, Leftover Thursday and Pizza Friday. Saturday is usually simple, and Sunday….well, Sunday is a mystery. It’s different every week :). But I’ve been planning 2 weeks in advance and shopping 2 weeks in advance and meal planning is MUCH simpler for me this year since starting with themes, and so far so good. It’s all about finding what works for you, your family and your schedule.

  • chris

    I have tried in the past to plan ahead meals, but I didn’t feel like eating them when the day came. We have a standing Pizza night, Wednesday’s after church events, and we have smorgasbord (leftover or clean out the fridge night) on Thursdays, anything still left over gets pitched as trash pick up is Friday. Sundays are family dinner nights whenever possible, we average every other week, with grandma and grandpa, all my girls including my granddaughter.

  • Cyndi Bird

    I am going to check out Cozi and see if I can get more regimented with planning again.! You would think it a breeze for me now that our children are grown and gone…but we are constantly in and out of town…or I am just plain lazy! ha! 🙂

    The thing that worked best for me was only planning 4-5 meals per week (as Jill mentioned). It wasn’t so overwhelming-a brain & schedule overload when I tried to do more & then I didn’t want to plan again! It also leaves a few days for something spontaneous, as long as I had the staples around.
    Love the theme days as well-like Breakfast night, etc. Kids love those. I also like ‘Season’ meals. Soups & raw veggies in winter – Salads, fruit and drinks in summer. Simple.
    I also used to plan my meals around what was happening that day. Super easy dinners for days when I knew I was running all day. Or a crock pot dinner for a busy night…but only if I had time that morning to put it together! Otherwise you sabotage your best efforts. 🙂
    Much luck to all you family cooks out there!

  • Meal planner

    I think that meal planning is a lifestyle choice, and one that’s well worth making. There are so many benefits, not only in peace of mind knowing what you are going to cook, but also reducing your food waste, and so saving money every week. You can also optimise your health by preparing to cook from scratch more often. No need to worry about diets and you can go about your week safe in the knowledge that your family is eating healthily!

    Meal planning makes meal sense!

    Thanks for the post.


  • Cheree

    I love meal planning (I do it weekly). I find recipes I love from a variety if blogs I love and tag them in my Google Reader so they are easy to find later. I rarely cook the same thing twice, so every week is a new experiment. I have a humongous chalkboard in my kitchen that the weekly meal plan goes on. If I don’t feel like a certain meal on a certain day, I will sometimes swap days on the fly. For me, visually seeing the meal on the wall helps to keep me on track. We always have one night open for an eat out and one or two nights for leftovers. I try to plan my meals so that ingredients overlap so there is less waste.


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