Easy Steps to Plan a Family Dinner Menu for the Week

One of our recurring ideas to make our lives easier is meal planning in advance. Yet, most of us find that it’s much easier said than done to stick to a well-loved family dinner menu.

After all, there’s no denying that planning your meals will help you ensure that you’re getting a well-balanced diet, which will have numerous long-term health benefits for you and your family.

So, if you’ve been trying on and off to create the perfect weekly family dinner menu, no worries. You’ve come to the right place. Keep on reading for our full breakdown of how to plan a family dinner menu with minimal hassle.

Family Dinner Menu 101: Starts Slow

Here’s the thing. Most of us get too excited and plan on creating a flawless weekly meal plan that encompasses breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in one go.

Well, there’s a high probability that this plan won’t last the week. It’s too much to integrate into your weekly routine all in one go. Therefore, you’ll want to focus on one meal at a time. In this case, it’s dinner. And, here’s how you do it.

Write Down a List of Well-Loved Recipes

This isn’t the time to try out a lot of new Pinterest recipes. Sit down with your family’s tried-and-true recipes and try coming up with seven that you know they’ll like.

It’s also a good idea to get their opinions. This offers them a sense of ownership over the menu, and they’ll be less inclined to complain if you serve what they wanted.

Also, you’ll want to keep a dinner slot open for pizza. Undoubtedly, there’s (at least) one day of the week when you’ll want to chill and relax. Maybe you’ll want to save Saturday’s dinner for Wiseguy’s Pizza Boise Idaho.

Categorize Meals by Protein

Even die-hard chicken lovers grow weary of eating it every night for supper. Return to your recipe folder and change things up if your collection of go-to dishes is entirely chicken-based.

I aim to offer two chicken dinners, two vegetarian meals, two fish meals, and one beef dinner each week to my family. Then I switch up the proteins so that we don’t eat the same thing two nights in a row.

List Your Meals by Ingredients

Write down the meals you’ll be providing on one side of a piece of paper after you’ve decided. Make a list of all the components needed on the other hand. Don’t forget to include the spices and seasonings in your list as well.

Consolidate your lists as you go, so that instead of writing “1 cup brown rice” three times on your list, you end up with “brown rice: 3 cups.” For the week, here is your Master List.

Take Stock of What You Have

Look through your cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to see what you don’t need to purchase. Put it on your shopping list if you’re out of something or don’t have it at all.

Also, don’t be scared to make alternatives. If a recipe calls for 1 pound of ground beef but you only have 1 pound of chicken thighs in the freezer, use what you have.

Keep It Visible

Family members should be able to view your weekly meal plan. You may refer to the list the next time they ask what’s for supper.

This isn’t just about preserving your voice: once kids realize you’ve planned out the week’s meals and none of them involve the drive-through, they’ll ask for it less often. They may even begin to anticipate Meatloaf on Fridays or Pad Thai on Tuesdays.

Do It Now

Complete your grocery shopping and begin serving meals from your weekly menu plan. Make as many notes as you need on what didn’t work and what did. Although making a quiche for breakfast on a school day may not have been the best choice, your family raved over the French Toast you served on Saturday morning.

Maybe prepare a triple batch of French Toast next time and freeze the leftovers to reheat on school mornings? Or prepare the quiche on the weekend and heat and serve it throughout the week?

Rinse and Repeat for Next Week

Place your “Week One Master List” in a safe area, far away from the kids.

Now repeat Steps 1–5 for Week Two, paying close attention to creating a Master List and making notes on your achievements and failures.

Start Rotating

Rotate your “Master Lists” of recipes and ingredients once you have two on hand.

Why go to the trouble of coming up with all-new, original menu ideas week after week when your kids won’t recall they had oatmeal with raisins and dried cranberries 14 days ago?

Remove Recipes With Special Ingredients

Some recipes need a unique item that you may not have on hand. What is the price of the ingredient? Is it in a small or large package? Is it OK to use it in other meals before it spoils? If you’re only going to use an ingredient once, it may not be worth the money.

Leave the item out or replace it with something you already have on hand. Experimenting when cooking may be a lot of fun, and you might be surprised by the end result.

Integrate Leftovers

Consider how you may make use of any leftovers. Serve chicken sandwiches for Monday lunch if you’re making rotisserie chicken with rice and veggies for Sunday dinner.

Tuesday, prepare a chicken soup with the bones and any leftover veggies and rice.

Ready to Lay Your Cooking Worries to Rest?

We know how overwhelming it can be to try and figure out which meals to prepare, and whether the kids will like it or not, and also juggle the right ingredients list to take to the grocery store.

Hopefully, our guide on how to plan the perfect family dinner menu, which you’ll be able to recycle for quite some time. And, if you liked our article, make sure to check out our additional tips and tricks. All will be available to you in our lifestyle section.