Amy, also known as Mom Advice, lives in Indiana. She is a writer, wife and mom to two beautiful children. On Snackpicks she shares her easy entertaining tips and advice for all occasions, from holiday parties to day-to-day family meal planning. Amy is also the founder and creator of the Mom Advice community.
Ready to get organized this new year? A weekly meal plan can help you save money, time and help your whole family eat better. I love to plan our family’s meals and create fun new dinners weekly that we can look forward to. Menu planning doesn’t have to be an intimidating process because it is something that can involve your entire family!
Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks for pulling together a family menu plan with ease:
1. Get creative with your planning
One of the top pitfalls to a family budget is dining out. Use those restaurant menus as an inspiration for your family dinners and create your menu plan.
2. Theme it up
Themes are definitely a great way to create a menu and they make planning a lot easier for families because it takes some of the work out of planning.
One way to make themes easier to implement in your house is by arranging your recipes by your theme night. Some of my past themes are a Brunch Sunday, which is great for making one of our family’s favorites, Baked Pancake with Apples or a Ham and Swiss Quiche. Some other favorite themes are Slow Cooker Monday, Chicken Tuesday, Italian Night Wednesday, Casserole/Comfort Food Thursday, Kid Food Night Friday (usually pizza, but they have other options too) and Seafood Saturday. Sunday night is also Seek-And-Ye-Shall-Find Night. This is just a fancy way of saying, “Momma ain’t cooking!”
You can pick from any variety of themes and you can go to town with your theme or just keep it a general night. You can make it special or keep it super simple. What I hope my children walk away with isn’t just that their mom is the best darn cook in the world, but that they have fond memories of our family sitting around the dinner table being together.
3. Involve your children
Our routines always seem to go better if the family has some input into the week’s meals. My daughter is four and my son is eight, and they both love to express their opinions and feel like they are contributing towards the family.
That is why when I create our grocery list, I ask each child what meal they would like to plan for their “special meal” each week. I am always surprised by their choices because they are often things I would not have thought of. The bonus is that I don’t have to plan two of the meals each week and the children love what they have chosen, reducing those dinnertime battles.
4. Visualize your choices
I feel very accomplished when I have our menu plans hanging on our refrigerator and it makes me feel good to see all of our choices neatly typed up and ready to go. If I prepare a dish from the plan, I take a highlighter and swipe a line through it. Seeing all of the things we ate all neatly highlighted also proves to me that I did not go out to eat. It makes you feel good and it also gives you ideas for food you can look forward to in the coming weeks.
5. Save your plans and rotate them
One of the best ways that I have found to save us time is to just keep copies of my past menu plans so that I can rotate them. If you come up with two month’s worth of meals, you can reuse those and rotate those dishes to make new planners for the future weeks. I do all of my plans on the computer and then save them so that I can look back on past ideas for inspiration.