Simplify Dinner :: {FREE} Meal Planning Template


“What’s for dinner?”

Plan meals for dinner.That has got to be one of the most frustrating questions in the world. You hear it from everyone in the family, multiple times a day.

For a busy mom, it’s one more thing to think about every darn day.

Dinner sounds like an easy enough thing, but so much goes into it. Do you have all the ingredients? Did you remember to set meat out to thaw? Do you have time to make it? Moms have to answer these questions every day.

A few years ago, I found a simplistic process that saves me all the questions. Bonus: I never get asked what’s for dinner. Mom win!

  • Create a spreadsheet. I started by creating an excel spreadsheet template for two weeks at a time. It allows me to plan a meal for each day. I ask the kids and hubby for suggestions, so everyone has a chance of a favorite meal during the two-week block. As I like to watch my weight, I include the calories/points as well. Then, I can plan the rest of meals around that known calorie total daily. The finished menu is printed for the fridge and emailed to the family. This stops the dreaded question, stops the endless shopping, stops the extra expense, and stops the scramble after a long day. Then, you get to try and relax in the evening — at least more than usual.
  • Look at the sheet the night before. I’ve made it a habit to look at the menu each night to see if I need to take out meat overnight for use in the crockpot the next morning. If so, I also set the crockpot out and prep any veggies.
  • Plan big meals. Big meals to our family mean meatloaf or chicken fried steak with all the side dishes. This makes enough for weekend dinners when you have more stored up energy and have both more time and more hands to help. Plus, you’ll probably end up with leftovers for lunches at the start of the week.
  • Give yourself a break with some easy meals. This could mean hot dogs, salad night, baked potato night, or grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. Leftovers can be thrown in the microwave for when you’ve had a hard day at work and don’t feel like cooking.
  • Use the spreadsheet to make a grocery list. I leave two flex days for my husband since he likes to grill. If life happens (and it does), I can easily switch one days meal for another for time. I save the menu for reference the next time with notes on what was a hit and what was a miss. I started with a basic grocery list of staples, then added the extra ingredients for that current meal plan. This stops the last minute store runs that are more expensive and time consuming.

Plan meals ahead of time.If you’re running into problems with repeating meals, look at passed-down family recipes, Pinterest, Big Oven, and Yummly are a great options to look for ideas.

Good memories can be made in the kitchen with your littles. And as you create those memories, your children will learn how to cook, because one day they will need to be able to cook on their own and answer the dreaded question of what’s for dinner.

Hope this helps someone!


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