To help keep my sanity in check, I try to go with a different meal theme each day so that I have some kind of routine. Here is my general guide to how I meal plan- with a little help from a fantastic website.
Our week usually looks like this.
Monday: Meatless Dish
Tuesday: Fish Dish
Wednesday: Chicken Dish
Friday: Family Fun Night (with a themed menu and activity)
Saturday: Pasta Dish
Sunday: Family Favourites
On Sunday, we also have a special family breakfast together- usually scrambled eggs or pancakes as the kids can help to cook them but I am looking to change this up a bit so we have other options. What do you like to have for a family breakfast that young children can help to prepare? I need some new ideas!
Most weekends I also bake for the week ahead, and I also bake something for preschool on a Wednesday.
A lot of our Friday and Sunday night meals are red meat based, in case you were wondering, and we also have a few red meat favourites for the Crock Pot.
For example, this week the plan is:
Monday: Cheesy Leek Risotto
Tuesday: Thai Curried Fish with Spiced Rice and corn kernels
Wednesday: Chinese Lemon Chicken with rice and broccoli
Thursday: Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Friday: Swedish Meatballs with Miss Piggy Cupcakes (Muppets Movie night)
Saturday: Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta with Cajun steamed vegetables
Sunday: Sausage Hash Brown Bake
For baking, I made Peanut Butter Banana Swirl Bread and Oddfellow Roll.
How do I keep track of my meal plan and shopping list? I use a website called Plan To Eat.
You can import recipes from the internet or type out your own favourites, then drag them into a weekly or monthly planner. This automatically creates a shopping list for you, which you can edit if you already have the necessary ingredients. I love that you can adjust the list- for example, I have mine done by aisles so I am efficient when I go to the store, but you can have it done by categories such as produce, meat, dairy etc or make the shopping list into whatever subcategories you choose. You can also have categories for your recipes, so I have separated mine by the themes listed above. The other thing I like about Plan To Eat is that you can also have a staples grocery list for things you buy every time you go shopping, and have them separate or merge them into your planned shopping list.
We usually eat the same things for breakfasts and lunches as well as snacks, so I have put them into my staples grocery list and also made them into meals on my Plan To eat menu, with labels such as preschool Lunch and snack options, to effortlessly migrate those items such as yoghurt, fruit and muesli bars to my shopping list.
Finally, to stop everyone asking "what's for dinner?", I write up the weekly menu on my new Magnetic Chalkboard, which was released today! (I got to play with it a couple of weeks in advance, and I love how it looks in my kitchen. Plus I can put memos, notices and receipts on there too.
I hope this helps you to do some meal planning too, this method certainly takes the stress out of feeding my family each week.
NB: I was not reimbursed in any way for my Plan To Eat review, it is just the method that I use and love!