“What’s for Dinner?”: 5 Tips on How to Prepare a Family Meal Plan

Family Meal Plan

As most of us have busy schedules, coming up with dinner ideas can be a tedious task. When you don’t have a dinner planned, you may find yourself in the rut of just grabbing a pizza on the way home or dining out regularly. Not only can this habit be expensive, it can also be unhealthy. Here are some tips on creating a family meal plan.


  • Give yourself time to plan

Many people believe that they can plan their family’s weekly meals in the car driving to work or dropping the kids off at school. While this may be a chance for you to talk to your family members about what they like to eat, you need to set time aside each week to actually sit down and meal plan. I recommend giving yourself at least 2 hours, as a beginner planner. Once you get the routine down, you can cut it down to 45 minutes to 1 hour. Ideally, if you can set this time aside when all of your family members are around you—do it. You can get their input and meal ideas so that you are not the only one coming up with dinner ideas. While you are creating the meals for the week, you can kill two birds with one stone by also putting together your grocery list. If you are a couponer, this is also your time to go through your coupons and see what items you will be buying this week.

  • Note Family Favorites

Whether you have your family around you when you are planning or not, you should take note of meals that your spouse and children enjoy. For example, your husband and kids love teriyaki steak tips, chicken stir fry, veal parm., make sure that you write it down because it will come in handy during your meal planning. Try to come up with a list of at least 10 family favorites—these will end up being your go-to meals when you can’t think of anything else.

  • Coordinate with Everyone’s Schedules

When you are meal planning, you want to make sure you have the family calendar readily available. If you know that you are going to be home late 4 nights out of the week, you certainly cannot be planning to make a dinner that takes over an hour to cook!

  • Designate a Day

Designating a certain meal on a specific day not only allows your family to know what is for dinner way ahead of time, but it also makes it easier on you to plan meals. I recommend designating 1-3 days. Some common meal days are Taco Tuesday. Fish Friday, and Wing Wednesday. It still gives you the ability to change things up as you could do beef tacos one week and ground turkey the next or change the type of fish you eat on Fridays.

  • Don’t Get Overwhelmed

It may seem overwhelming to have to plan the entire week’s meals in a couple hours, but it gets easier! I recommend using Pinterest to find easy and fun dinner ideas. Also, don’t feel as though you need to have a home cooked meal every night. Give yourself one or two nights a week where you order take out, like pizza or Chinese food. Or you could make a simple meal instead, like make sandwiches or eat leftovers; every night does not have to be a new meal.



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