Do you struggle to get dinner on the table? Or figure out what the heck you should even make?
I’ve been there!
Before I discovered meal planning, my grocery shopping trips were a hot mess. No list. No plan. Just randomness.
And don’t get me started on dinnertime. Since I hadn’t planned what to make, I never had all the ingredients to make anything.
And that gets expensive. Whether it was going to the store every day to get what we needed for that particular night’s dinner, or running through a drive-thru, not having a plan was costly.
Over time, I’ve developed an easy system for planning and making meals. Nothing glamorous or ‘chef-y.’ Just simple and inexpensive dinners that my family enjoys.
Free Weekly Meal Planning Printables: How To Create Your Own Meal Planning Kit
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I wanted to make sure that meal planning could be simple and streamlined for you too.
So I created a FREE printable meal planning template packet!
You can easily put these printables into a folder or binder, and have everything at your fingertips.
Having all our menu planning tools in one place will save you and me loads of time and money!
(Note: If you’re already a subscriber, it’s waiting for you in the Freebie Vault!)
Free weekly meal planner
This free 12 page resource comes with:
- meal planning tips
- a weekly meal planner
- 100+ dinner ideas
- 50+ side dish ideas
- 20 theme night ideas for quick and easy meal planning
- printable templates for you to list your favorite meals
- pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory sheets
- grocery shopping templates for you to fill in and take to the store
- a cover page for your binder
Related: New to meal planning? Check out these 5 easy meal planning strategies for beginners.
How to use your meal planning templates
Make a list of your family’s favorite meals, or recipes you’ve been meaning to try. Jot them down on the Meal Ideas page. The Main Dish, Side Dish, and Theme Night Ideas pages have over 170 ideas you can use for inspiration.
Once you have this list of meal ideas, meal planning will go much quicker!
Next, check your calendar and the week’s schedule and decide how many meals you need to plan for. Maybe you have a couple evenings this week where you won’t be home, or got invited to a family member’s house for dinner. No need to plan for those nights.
Browse your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see if there are ingredients you can use to prepare meals. Feel free to use the Inventory sheet to write the items down.
You can get creative and use what you have on hand. This is especially helpful if you want to keep your grocery bill low this week.
Check out the Dinner Spinner app for ideas. You simply choose what type of dish (main, appetizer, side, etc.), the ingredient you have (i.e. chicken), and ‘ready in’ (20 min, slow cooker, etc.), and it comes up with recipes for you.
Or try the Supercook website. Enter the ingredients you have on hand, and it comes up with a variety of recipes you can make with them. How convenient is that!
The next step is to actually come up with this week’s meals and list them on the Weekly Meal Plan page.
Money Saving Tip: You can save a lot of money by planning your meals around what’s on sale at the grocery store. If chicken breasts are super cheap, plan a couple chicken dishes.
Next, fill out your Shopping List page based on the meals you have planned. Don’t forget to take your list to the store. : )
That’s it! You have your meals planned for the week, and you’ve shopped for all the ingredients. Everything is in your home and ready to go.
Breathe a sigh of relief. When 5:00 rolls around every day, you won’t be scrambling!
Sample Weekly Meal Plan:
The meals I planned for this week are:
- Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken with corn on the cob
- Pancakes with sausage and fruit
- Sloppy Joes and potato wedges
- Spaghetti with salad and garlic bread
- Homemade pizza and salad
- Chicken fajitas
- Chicken Taco Salad
- corn on the cob
- bell peppers
- ground beef
- chicken breasts
- breakfast sausage
- pasta sauce
- bbq sauce
- Manwich (or make your own sloppy joe sauce)
- pizza crusts
- shredded cheese
- garlic bread
- pancake mix
I actually have several of these ingredients in my freezer and pantry already. Staying well-stocked on staple items is very helpful for meal planning.
If you’re totally stumped by the idea of planning your meals, check out the $5 Meal Plan. For only $5 A MONTH, they will send you weekly meal plans and shopping lists. It just doesn’t get more convenient than that!
Your weekly menu will include one freezer friendly, one slow-cooker, and one 20 minute meal. They also have a gluten-free option, if that’s best for you.
Meal Planning Tips
Plan to use some ingredients more than once.
For example, in my meal plan, the package of buns I buy will be used both for the sloppy joes and the pulled chicken sandwiches.
Lettuce will be used for salad as a side dish twice, and once for the taco salad main dish.
Leftover bbq pulled chicken will be used on pizza night to make bbq chicken pizza. I’ll simply spread the leftovers over the pizza crust, add cheese and onions, and put it in the oven.
The leftover chicken fajitas can be transformed into the chicken taco salad quite easily.
How to organize your free meal planning printables
I keep my weekly meal planner in a binder. Everything is in one place, and I can just grab it and take it anywhere I want.
I recommend a 1-1.5″ binder. It’s up to you whether you want a totally adorable one, or a more basic solid-color binder. You can slide the included Weekly Meal Planner cover page inside the outer plastic shield, or use it as the first page.
Consider getting some clear sheet protectors like these to keep your pages looking nice.
Feel free to keep handwritten, printed, or ripped-from-magazines recipes in the binder as well. This works especially well if you have the sheet protectors.
Be sure to include the Dinner Ideas pages that contain over 100 meal suggestions in your binder. And the Side Dishes page has over 50 side dish ideas to accompany the meals you’re planning.
If you really want to simplify meal planning, use the 20 ideas on the Theme Nights sheet and pick a theme for each night. Italian on Mondays, Taco Tuesday, etc.
Hopefully those 170+ ideas should really help simplify meal planning!
If your binder has a front pocket, you can keep extra weekly meal planning sheets in there. Print as many as you want!
If you don’t plan to use sheet protectors, you’ll also need a 3 hole punch. And if you want to put recipes in your meal planning binder, you can use some dividers to separate categories. I love my label maker for labeling divider tabs.
I hope these free meal planning printables will be as helpful to you as they have been to me.
Don’t miss these other meal planning posts:
- 10 Cheap and Easy Meal That Anyone Can Make
- 5 Easy Meal Planning Strategies For Beginners
- 5 Ways To Save Money On Groceries Without Using Coupons