Meal Planning

Meal Planning Made Easy: Weekly Dinner Guide

Well hello there!  Happy New Year to everyone!  Has anyone else been in somewhat of a hazy alternate universe since Christmas ended?  It’s that period of time between Christmas and the new year that you know you need to get back on track with exercise, eating, and normal daily tasks…but why bother until January 1st, right? Anyone else??

November and December were one big blur, and our family has kind of just been letting it ride until today.  We hadn’t been to the grocery store since before Christmas, so this past week has been loads of fun figuring out last minute meals….not.

Now that it’s January 1st, I feel like I can officially get back on track with meal planning.  But I’m not gonna lie…sometimes I get in a meal planning rut and feel too overwhelmed by the daunting task in front of me.  Sitting down to plan 5-7 meals at one time can feel like a lot.  So I’ve decided to try something new this year to make it a little easier!

But, first…

A quick recap why I think meal planning is so awesome!

  1. In my opinion, it’s one of the quickest ways to see a difference in your monthly spending at the grocery store.
  2. It encourages you to eat a certain way, whatever way that may be (more veggies, paleo, low-carb, etc.)
  3. It takes the stress out of figuring out what you’re going to make for dinner on a day-by-day basis.

Since I’m in charge of most of the grocery shopping, my goal is to keep our grocery budget under $300 a month.  Honestly…sometimes I do great, and other months I blow right through that in the first few weeks.  Like November and December.  The busy holiday season is definitely a time when I opt for the convenience of buying pre-made cookie dough (among other things) rather than the more time consuming, albeit budget friendly, task of making it from scratch.

So, this year I’ve decided to try…

a weekly dinner guide!

Say whaaaat?

So basically you’re still meal planning, and eating the foods you want to eat….just with a little more guidance while planning.

Check it out:

These are the “categories” that work for our family right now, but can easily be customized to fit with how/what you like to cook.  Here are some other ideas you could substitute instead:

  • Meatless Monday
  • Soup/Salad/Sandwich
  • Sheet pan
  • Breakfast (for dinner)
  • Low-carb/Paleo/Keto, etc.
  • Fun Friday (a fun meal you can get the kiddos involved in)
  • Focus on a specific meat (chicken, pork, turkey, fish, beef, etc.)
  • Family favorite

The possibilities for your weekly dinner rotation are endless!

I have a Pinterest board full of free weekly meal plan printables that you can use to jot down what categories and order of meals work best for you.  Oh, and just to switch it up a bit, I plan on trying the above dinner rotation for a month or two, and then I’ll try some of the other categories I listed.

I meal planned for this week using this method, and it was so much easier!  And it cut my planning time in half since I had some parameters to go by when looking up some meals.

Whether you’re meal planning for the first time, or you just need to mix it up a bit, I hope you this can be a useful tool for you to use. 🙂 Happy planning!

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