I am happiest when I have solved a problem with the use of a spreadsheet. A few years ago, I began using a spreadsheet to make my weekly meal plans. Having weekly meal plans keeps me focused and efficient. Also, my husband and I both arrive home from work between 5:30 and 6 PM and that doesn’t give us much time to boil water, let alone make an entire meal.
Why I do Weekly Meal Plans:
- Holds me accountable to eat better.
- Reduces food waste.
- Saves money on one-off grocery trips or eating out.
- Saves time as I can prepare food in advance.
- Reminds me to use freezer food.
Easing into Meal Planning
If meal planning is going to be a shock to your system, then start out slowly with only planning weeknight dinners and plan to make more than you need so you can eat leftovers during the week. I know leftovers are a polarizing subject, but let it be known I’m #TeamLeftovers.
Below is a sample week for my family:
|Dinner||Leftovers||Veggie Stir-fry with chicken and rice||Leftovers||Pasta with microwaved meatballs||Crock pot Chicken w/root veggies.|
|Next Day Prep||Measure rice.
Take chicken out of freezer.
|Boil pasta + assemble.
Take whole chicken out of freezer.
|Chop veggies and get crock pot ready.|
|Evening Activity||8pm Run||8pm Run|
The Extra Rows
I find it very useful to add additional rows to my weekly meal plans to include “next day prep” and “evening activity”. As a result of “next day prep”, you don’t forget to take food out of the freezer. This allows freezer food time to defrost and you can also plan more evening prep when you anticipate a more hectic next day. The above example shows that I take my chicken out of the freezer and into the fridge on Wednesday night. Come Friday, I can put the thawed chicken into the crock pot.
Depending on the amount of time you have to prepare your dinner each day, you can adjust the amount of next day prep to do and move some to the day of. For me, it is useful to have my rice and water measured the night before so that it is ready – all I have to do the day of is rinse the rice and turn on my rice cooker and in 15 minutes, I’ll have my carbs!
Adapting for Children’s Eating Habits
I add rows to my weekly meal plans for my daughter (the Munchkin), to indicate who will pick her up from daycare (e.g., my husband or the grandparents) and on what night she needs a bath. If my husband and I are eating perogies or potatoes then I need to plan a meal for the Munchkin that is different from ours. She’s usually a good eater, but has always refused potatoes.
You can expand the weekly meal plans to include weekends and all other meals. I’ll be sure to blog about some of my favourite quick and easy week day meals.
Mickey’s Printable Weekly Meal Plans
My family likes that I use the Mickey’s Printable Weekly Menu [pdf] found on the Disney Family site here: https://family.disney.com/activity/mickeys-printable-weekly-menu/
I can quickly write in what our dinner is for each night and post it on the fridge. Alternatively, you can start with this if it is your first foray into meal planning. Posting the printable Mickey menu on the fridge helps us keep Disney alive all year in our home!
If you’ve survived a busy week, then treat yourself to my Churro Treats at Home Recipe for a weekend family brunch.