Here are a selection of free printable meal planners / menu planners. Some of them also have space to add a shopping list with the groceries that you will require to prepare all items on the menu. These printables are sure to keep you organized.
8 Reasons to Create Meal Plans
I am not an organized person (unfortunately) but I do like to plan my family’s meals for the upcoming week. Why would you want to plan meals ahead of time?
1) Planning meals ahead of time enables you to ensure that you have all of the ingredients that you will need to cook the weekly meals. That means that you won’t have to go to the supermarket at the most inconvenient time (which is usually when you remember that you are short of something).
2) Planning meals ahead of time enables you to ensure that your family’s diet is very balanced. Often we have meals that do not have enough protein or vegetables. When we plan ahead we can ensure that we compensate the next day or sometime that week. Ideally, every meal should be balanced but it doesn’t always work out that way particularly when you are dealing with fussy eaters.
3) Planning meals ahead of time ensures that you eat healthy nutritious meals every day. No more processed food for dinner because you didn’t remember to take something out of the freezer.
4) Planning meals ahead of time enables you to take into account the time that you will have to cook and plan quick meals that you don’t need much time to prepare.
5) Planning meals ahead of time cuts down on waste and ensures that produce is fresh. One of the main reasons that I started planning meals is because I was getting tired of throwing food away. I used to buy things that I thought I might use but never did. This way I know exactly what I will be using each day and I don’t make unnecessary purchases.
6) When I cook a meal every day we enjoy one family meal that we eat together. This is quality family time. It’s a perfect time to chat and catch up on each others lives. I get to hear from my kids what is bothering them and what excites them. If they every have an issue or a big problem to deal with I am hoping that I will know about it way before it gets out of hand. When you chat with your kids every day you really get to know them. You can ensure that they have the right problem solving tools and often prevent problems before they even occur. When you don’t sit down to eat as a family you often miss this opportunity to really talk to them. No TV, no computers and no games to distract them. Pure quality time. It’s not something that my kids give me too often!
7) When I don’t plan meals then I land up making the same thing every often (or in some cases I don’t even cook). My kids will often prefer not to eat than eat something that they don’t really want. They are really fussy eaters and I want them to eat. Finding something that everyone will eat is a very difficult task. I wouldn’t like to do that every day! This way I spend some time on the weekly menu but then its set and I know that everyone will be eating. When I plan meals ahead of time I try one new recipe one day a week. It keeps me creative in the kitchen and ensures that I will have the ingredients for this new dish.
8) Every family member gets to choose the menu for one day each week. I get to decide if it is too complicated or not nutritious (my kids would just love chocolate cake for dinner).