How to plan family meals

Whether you’re a family meal planning novice or expert, there are two basic essentials required to plan and shop for a weekly menu:

Menu and a Grocery/Shopping List

free printable menu grocery list by menubilityThe MENUbility 2-in-1 printable menu and grocery list is a simple, yet adequate and easy-to-navigate tool for planning your family’s meals.  It can be printed on a single 8.5″ x 11″ sheet.  The spacing maximizes the amount of information you can squeeze on the sheet and spares you the hand cramps from teeny tiny print. The menu can be cut or torn away and posted on the refrigerator or family bulletin board.

Here are the basics on how to plan family meals:

  1. Start by writing out your main dishes on the top line for each numbered section on the menu. Then fill in the accompanying side dishes on the 2 lines under each main dish.
  2. If you’re looking up recipes online, keep the recipes open in multiple tabs in your browser so they are all in one place.  Go ahead and bookmark the recipes you’re sure you want to make, but don’t close the tabs just yet!
  3. After you’ve got all of your meals and recipes determined for the week, start making your grocery list. Go through each recipe and write down the ingredients in the appropriate area on the grocery list.  This list is already sectioned off like most grocery stores to make your shopping time the most efficient! So, for example, [table id=2 /]
  4. Do the same thing for each recipe/dish you plan on making for each meal.
  5. Once you’ve accounted for all the ingredients you need to have on hand for a recipe, either on your grocery list (if you need to buy) or in your kitchen/pantry (if you already have them), close your tabs.
  6. Make sure you include all your kitchen staples (breakfast & lunchbox items, milk, bread, condiments, etc…).  If there are other things you need to buy from other stores (like paper towels from Target, for example), add them in the “other” section and write the store’s name in with it so you know you have multiple stops.
  7. Now – head out to the grocery store, knock out your grocery list in no time flat! Be sure to bring a cooler bag if you have a couple places to visit! Hopefully, you can do all your shopping in one place.

When you’re arrive back home and put all your groceries away, treat yourself to some well-deserved downtime (even if it’s only 5 minutes)!


How do you plan your family meals? Leave a comment below to share!

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4 responses to “How to plan family meals”

  1. What a clever idea to print out your menu and shopping list. As a retired couple, I continue to do all the cooking and Hubby loves to do the grocery shopping, or as he puts it, grocery ” hunting.” The shopping list will make the “hunt” much easier now.
    I found your site on on of my favorite food blogs, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen.

    • Thanks, Linda! So glad you found your way here via Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. Penny’s blog is fantastic (as is her food)! MENUbility is just getting started, so if you have any suggestions, please feel free to let me know.


  2. I now realize my email only shows up for a reply from me. disregard earlier message.
    Good luck on MENUbility!!

  3. I love your suggestion to keep the recipes open in multiple tabs if you are looking up recipes online to make them easier to keep track of. I think it would also be smart to get your recipes and tips all from one website that you trust to simplify the process further. I will keep these tips in mind for the next time I am planning family meals for my kids and husband.

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