meal planning & printable

meal planning
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Sunday mornings are spent meal planning and bill paying.

And doing shots while giving each other tattoos.

Okay, not really.

That first sentence was just so lame I thought I needed to throw in something crazy to make myself sound not so boring.  But I’ll just accept that this is as fun as it gets on a Sunday morning at the Graham house.  And, actually, I really like meal planning.  I could definitely go without the bill paying though.

How I Meal Plan
-Gather supplies: calendar, grocery list, menu sheet, cookbooks, and a big cup of tea

-I made this menu sheet a couple years ago and it’s served us well.  I like that I can divide each day into two or three sections depending on how many meals I’m planning for.  My husband stays home with our daughters and is on his own for breakfast ideas, but I do the lunch and dinner ones. (Wednesday’s post will be our 20 most popular lunches for our toddlers if you’re interested in specifics.)

-I do this plan every two weeks.  I tend to only grocery shop every other weekend and we’ll make additional runs for milk or something, I get the bulk of my shopping done in one stop every two weeks.

-The first thing I look at before deciding on meals is what our evenings look like.  If I’m going to be after school late with meetings, then I make sure I have a slow cooker meal ready.  If we’re going to be running errands or have someplace to be and can’t eat at home, I make sure we have money budgeted to eat out.

-After slow cooker meals and crossing out nights we won’t be home, I go through my cookbooks and come up with meal ideas.  I like to cook and 90% of the time make dinner for my family.  That isn’t to say we don’t order pizza or go off the menu occasionally.  Sometimes I’m just too tired to cook. #truth

-As I’m writing down our meals, I’m adding ingredients to the shopping list that we don’t have, but I’ll need for a specific lunch or dinner.  If at all possible, I try to combine things to save time (like buying three pounds of chicken when a recipe only calls for two.  I’ll make all of it and freeze the rest to use in another chicken recipe the following week.)

-Part of the reason I do a lunch plan when my husband could easily come up with lunch ideas is because too many times we were serving them similar things for both meals.  I’d plan on making pasta for dinner and then he’d mention they had macaroni and cheese for lunch.  And while my kids probably don’t care about having two meals that are so similar, I like to vary their diets and that bugged me.  Hence, I meal plan for lunch and dinner.

-I love cookbooks and horde collect them, but I pretty much use the same ones when I’m meal planning.  I tend to just glance through the others and then come back to the three above because there’s so much to choose from and it’s pretty much all a hit.  I also like to find random recipes online and I’ll print them off and throw them in a recipe box to use later. (Truth: my “recipe box” is really an old cigar box.  I love the way an old cigar box looks and always pick a couple up when I’m around a smoke shop. I’m serious, they’re beautiful boxes.  And bonus: they’re super cheap.)

-When my meal planning is complete, I drag myself to Sam’s Club and the grocery store.  I used to love grocery shopping before kids but now I dread it.  Although, you know what I dread more than actually shopping?  Putting all that stuff away. Ugh.

So that’s it, how the Grahams use meal planning.  It really does wonders for our evening and it’s just really nice to come home from a long day of educating lovely children and not have to worry about what I’m making or what’s in the pantry.  Because by the time 5:00 hits, I’m pretty much done thinking for the day.

How about you? Do you meal plan?  Have any great recipes I need to try?  If you grabbed my menu sheet, tell me how it works for you!


  1. says

    Hello. Thank you for the template, I can’t wait to use it this weekend. I meal plan for the week before my grocery shopping trip. I loathe stopping at the grocery store on my way home from work, so I try to avoid it. I find that meal planning reduces my week night stress and saves me money.

  2. says

    Man, if only I could go two full weeks before my house was empty!! I would love to see how big your list is! I have a Rachel ray cookbook I like also….365 No Repeats…that has some great meals in it. I love my slow cooker too but don’t have too many recipes for it. Care to share? Lastly…my daughter and I read the matched trilogy, did you like it?? I have read so many dystopian stories by now they all get confused in my brain!!

  3. says

    The Cooking Light, fresh, food, fast is one of my favorites! Everything turns out as tasty as it looks in the picture. My other go to is Eating for Life. So simple and very easy flavors for everyone to enjoy. I used to meal plan, but don’t really anymore. It’s one of those things that got lost once the kids arrived :(

  4. says

    I meal plan one week at a time, and on Tuesday or Thursday morning while Brayden is at school, Kenley and I grocery shop. Since my husband is only home on Sundays, I HATE doing it over the weekend when we are all 4 together. I am going to print out this template and try it! A lot of my meals come from my mom, Pinterest, Taste of Home online, or Kraft Recipes.

  5. says

    By far my easiest recipe is to buy a rotisserie chicken– eat that one night. The next day, put the rest, bones and all, into your slow cooker with a tad bit of water most of the day. Remove the bones, leave the chicken. Add basil and a little bouillon. Pour over Bertolli or any other fresh/refrigerated tortellini and voila–chicken tortellini soup. One of my favorites!

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