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How Do You Make a Meal Plan?

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How do you make a meal plan? The first step in figuring out how to meal plan is to decide which style of meal planning will work best for your family, and then create your meal plan to fit your schedule.

how do you make a meal plan


When making a meal plan that suits your family’s needs, you’ll need consider these following factors:

  • Your family’s schedule
  • How much time you have to cook
  • Your family’s eating habits – do you have super picky kids? Do you or your spouse only eat certain vegetables? Are you vegan or does someone have food allergies in your house?
  • Your family’s favorite recipes
  • The availability of food (i.e. seasonal produce, your supply of meat, etc.) – my family typically buys pork and beef directly from a local farmer, so I typically plan my meals around what’s in my freezer (or if I’m running low on a certain type of meat, I plan my meals around when I’ll go to certain grocery stores and their sales).
  • How many people you need to feed
  • Do you want leftovers?


If you’re just getting started meal planning, read the meal planning for beginner’s guide or learn how to set up a meal plan.

However, these are the basic steps for meal planning:

  1. Create a list of your family’s favorite recipes and meals.
  2. Decide which type of meal plan you’ll use (weekly or monthly).
  3. Add your schedule, like kids’ sporting events, practices, and meetings, to your meal plan.
  4. Schedule your weekly or monthly meals based on your activities and the amount of time you’ll have to meal prep, cook, and clean up after dinner.

What type of meal planning is best for your family?

There are two main styles of meal planning: weekly and monthly. Each style has its benefits, and you may find that different types of meal plans work best during different seasons for your family.

Try these tips to set up your meal plan and figure out how to make the best meal plan for your family’s busy schedule!

How Do You Plan Meals for the week?

Planning meals for the week is a great way to set up a meal plan if you have a schedule that’s constantly changing or if you have a small pantry or freezer.

The first step to create your meal plan for the week is to list your schedule in your meal planner.

Next, add your family’s favorite recipes to your meal planner based on your schedule and the amount of time that you have to prepare each meal. This is also a good time to note the weekly sales at your local grocery store, in addition to the contents of you pantry and freezer.

For example, if ground beef is on sale, plan on making tacos or spaghetti.

One benefit to weekly meal planning is that you can save money by planning your weekly menu based on the weekly sales at your grocery store.

How do I Make a Monthly Meal Plan?

how to make a monthly meal plan (plus free printable meal planner)

Making a monthly meal plan is perfect if you have a steady schedule.

You can use a calendar or a preprinted meal planner to organize your family’s meals and grocery list in one place.

Start by adding your family’s schedule to the meal planner, then add your family’s favorite recipes.

Don’t forget to include leftovers or theme nights, like pizza Friday, in your monthly meal plan.

For more in-depth instructions, read how to make a monthly meal plan.

What’s the Easiest Way to Start Meal Planning?

MyFreezEasy is a great meal planning app to create a monthly meal plan.

I love using done-for-you meal planning templates to create a meal plan, like using MyFreezEasy, which gives you monthly meal plans based on your favorite cooking method, type of recipe, or number of meals that you want to prepare.

Another easy way to create your meal plan is to brainstorm ALL of your family’s favorite recipes, and then add those recipes into a simple weekly or monthly calendar (get my printable meal planner here, which contains both weekly and monthly planners, in addition to a page to list your favorite recipes).

You could even write your meal plan on a whiteboard.

I love this magnetic chalkboard-style dry erase board that I stick to my fridge so the entire family can see our meal plan at a glance. This whiteboard has large enough square so that I can also include our schedule, like the kids’ sports practices, my husband’s travel schedule, etc.

How Do I Plan a Meal For Beginners

You may feel like you need a Meal Planning for Dummies guide, but I promise that meal planning is simple, especially once you’ve create a list of your family’s favorite meals and tried a couple different styles of meal planning to see what works best for your family.

For step-by-step instructions for how to plan a meal for beginners, check out this post:

Meal planning is a great way to make sure you have dinner on the table every night - if you know how to do it. Learn how to meal plan and simplify family dinners.

Meal Planning Template

Set up your meal plan by creating a meal planning template.

Once you know whether weekly or monthly meal planning works best for your family, add your schedule to your meal plan.

You’ll then create your meal plan around your family’s schedule once your daily routine is listed on your meal planner.

For example, if your kids have baseball practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays and gymnastics on Wednesdays, mark those dates in your meal planner. Then, you’ll know to prepare simple meals, like slow cooker recipes, on those nights when you’re in a hurry.

Printable Meal Planner

Get my free printable meal planner, which contains a page for your family’s favorite recipes, a weekly meal planning template, and a monthly meal plan calendar.

Whether you decide to make a weekly meal plan or a monthly meal plan for your family, learning how to make a meal plan is an essential part of streamlining your schedule and making better routines for moms.

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