How Using a Meal Plan Can Save Your Busy Weeknights and Add Some Food Firsts to Dinner

Would you believe me if I told you that there is one simple thing that can save your busy weeknights?  Yes, one simple thing that can save your family time, money, and free up your evenings for more family fun.  All that you need is a meal plan. It really is that easy.  A meal plan will give you an easy answer to that daily question of “what’s for dinner”.  A meal plan will also make your grocery shopping quite a bit easier and will likely introduce your family to some new foods.

I finally found a meal plan that works for our household (more about it later).  We know what we are having for dinner each night for the next month, and it has saved us so much time.  It’s also saved me the stress of wondering what to make for dinner, and from having to make those last minute trips to the grocery store.

Our Meal Plan

This is the answer to “what’s for dinner?”.

You’ve maybe tried a meal plan in the past, only to have it not work for your family.  We’ve tried some with high hopes, only to find the food to unusual or time consuming to make.  I also have numerous cookbooks with pages marking recipes to be made “someday”.  It takes time to pick out the recipes, plan the grocery list, and then hope that some stuff is on sale at the grocery store.  It’s so nice to have someone else do the planning and provide the recipes.

The Benefits of a Meal Plan

Or if you haven’t tried a meal plan, thinking that you don’t need someone else to do your planning, you may be surprised if you try one.  Here are some benefits that your family may find with using a meal plan:

  • The shopping list is already written out.  You can easily edit the list and cross out the items that you don’t need.  Or if you see chicken is on sale this week, and you know that you’re serving chicken next week, buy now and freeze for later.
  • The meals in the meal plan are healthy and flavorful.  Much better than any drive-thru or something from the freezer aisle.
  • Since you know your meals for the upcoming week, you can plan out your meal prep time and even get most of the meal ready the night before serving.
  • Another benefit of knowing your meals for the next week is that you can chop all the vegetables or marinate and trim the meat that you need all at one time.  Why haul out the cutting board any more than you have to?
  • The kids can help!  Most of the recipes in our plan are quick cooking or slow cooker meals.  The kids are very experienced at putting the ingredients into the slow cooker.  If they help make it, they are much more likely to eat it!
  • You add some new meals to your dinnertime and some food firsts.  Some of our favorite meals have been the ones that I least expected.
  • A plan saves you time!  Your evenings will be much more relaxing if you aren’t starting a meal from scratch.  It’s even better to come home to the smell of dinner that’s been cooking the day away in the slow cooker.
  • The creator of the meal plan we use does cooking demonstrations on Facebook live.  This has been a great way to see some of the recipes that we haven’t yet tried, or to see “how it’s really supposed to be done”.
  • Some of the meals are designated as freezer meals.  These are meals that can be prepped and frozen until ready to cook.  These are usually meals that can be thawed and then put into the slow cooker.  I feel way ahead of the game when I can prep a week’s worth of meals in an hour.
  • You save money at the grocery store.  For one, you aren’t buying as many convenience foods anymore.  It’s always cheaper when your cart is full of produce, dairy, and meat instead of prepackaged meals.
  • If you are serving a nice meal to your family, they may be more likely to sit around the dinner table and eat dinner together!

The Meal Plan That has Saved Our Weeknights

The plan that I started using is called Eat at Home.  I discovered this meal plan after one of my favorite bloggers started cooking some meals from the plan on Facebook live.  She offered a discount code, so I purchased a one month plan.

When you sign up you get access to one month of plans.  With this meal plan you actually get three months of meals each month because she gives you one month of whole foods meals, slow cooker meals, and traditional meals.  That is a lot of meals and recipes!

shopping list meal plan

This is a sampling of what a week of meals and the shopping list looks like.

Now, I don’t follow the meal plan on a daily basis.  I usually just pick a few meals from each week and work them into our schedule.  We haven’t had any problems finding meals that the whole family just loves.  I’ll admit there’s been some meals that I was sure the kids weren’t going to be too happy with, but I’ve been wrong!  We are now eating Korean BBQ tacos, Cajun chicken, Tex-Mex shepard’s pie, and beef short ribs.  These are meals I hadn’t ever made before, but thanks to the meal plan, we’ve had some food firsts.

There are a lot of meal plans available and some are even free.  I encourage you to find one that fits your family’s needs and give it a try.  You may be surprised at how much a plan helps!

 

 

 

Using a meal plan will save your busy weeknights. It will also save you time and money!

14 Comments

  • Denay DeGuzman August 22, 2017 at 10:20 am

    I love the concept of meal planning. It takes away the daily stress and worry of “what’s for dinner?” I enjoyed having a sneak peek of your handwritten one. Lots of delicious meal options!

    Reply
    • Vicki August 22, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      Thanks! We’ve certainly added some variety to dinnertime!

      Reply
  • Gayle August 22, 2017 at 7:50 am

    I do my own meal planning and I love it. So time-saving and makes everything so much easier.

    Reply
    • Vicki August 22, 2017 at 9:42 pm

      Anything that can be done to make busy weeknights easier is worth it!

      Reply
  • Trisha August 22, 2017 at 7:25 am

    You are so right! Meal planning is good for so many reasons! I used to be an avid meal-planner/prepper, but I’ve had difficulty getting back into the routine of it since having a baby, even though it would help me now more than ever! So glad I read this – I think it’s time to give it another try!

    Reply
    • Vicki August 22, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      You should try again! The meal plan we use has one week of freezer meals each month…you could double up and have a nice stash of dinners in the freezer!

      Reply
  • Michael @ Super Millennial August 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    This is a great idea, meal planning is huge to planning my week!

    Reply
    • Vicki August 21, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      It’s so satisfying to have an answer when someone asks “whats for dinner”!

      Reply
  • Alexa August 21, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    I meal prep too but wish it didn’t take grocery shopping AND cooking!

    Reply
    • Vicki August 21, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      I have to admit I love going to the grocery store….and cooking dinner while enjoying a glass of wine!

      Reply
  • Sarah Althouse August 21, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Meal planning saves me so much money! Yes, it’s more work front but saves time and money in the long run.

    Reply
    • Vicki August 21, 2017 at 10:15 am

      It really makes a difference….one less thing to think about!

      Reply
  • Kate | The Organized Dream August 21, 2017 at 9:15 am

    I’ve been telling myself for a long time now that I need to get on the meal planning wagon. I just don’t have the time….even though I know this will save a ton of time in the future.

    Reply
    • Vicki August 21, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Just give one a try for a couple of weeks, and you’ll soon wonder how you survived without a meal plan!

      Reply

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