My number one suggestion for meal planning is to keep it simple! Guard against letting it become a time-consuming chore that you dread. Below is a link for my very simple, no-frills shopping list and menu planner.
Meal Planning-Shopping List Form
I create my daily menu plan at the top, adding ingredients to purchase on the shopping list portion at the bottom. I place the entire form in my coupon binder when I go shopping. When I return home, I clip off the top portion, which contains the menu plan, and post it near the oven. I toss the used shopping list portion.
I usually print about 12 of these forms at a time. Print page one first. Flip the stack, and print page two on the back.
To help keep planning time simple and quick, we have “nights” for certain types of dishes. We are
very flexible with it, especially adjusting to try new recipes. The "nights" just provides a good jumping off point for our plans! We change the "nights" several time throughout the year to keep our meal plan from becoming too boring and to allow room for more new dishes.
Here’s our basic plan at the moment:
I usually start by planning our pizza night first. I then plan our other meats around the meat I’ve chosen for the pizza.
Mondays are “Pasta Night.”
Tuesdays are “Pizza Night.”
Wednesdays are “Comfort Food Night.”
Thursdays are “Breakfast-for-Supper or Leftovers Buffet Night.”
Fridays are “Eat Out Night.” (Meal planning makes it much easier to find the funds to go out to eat on Fridays!)
Saturdays are a toss up. I usually just wait and see what everyone’s plans are for the evening!
Sundays - We generally eat a large, late lunch on Sundays. For supper, depending on how hungry we are, we eat a small snack or grab a milk shake after church.
Although it is often times much easier, quicker and less messy to cook yourself, involve your family in the cooking of meals. Make it a fun family time. Be sure to require them to help clean-up! Everyone will learn some great life skills, and it has been our experience, that some of our best conversations take place as we cook together, set the table and tidy-up the kitchen. The kitchen truly can be the heart of the home!
Coupons can be a bane or a blessing, depending on how you use them. Here's a link to how I make coupons work for us:
Couponing & Coupon Binder
The Number One Thing that Revolutionized My Meal Planning
Precooking and Freezing Meats