You may have been using or adapting my free weekly ALDI meal plans for some time, but here are many more meal planning resources to help you keep on track, either in making your own meal plan, or in adapting others’ affordable menu plans each week!
When thinking about how best to meal plan for your own family, everyone needs to find the right mix and method that works for them.
Basic Steps to Effective Meal Planning
Here in a nutshell is your seven-step plan for effective meal planning:
- Start small: Plan a couple dinners a week, then expand out from there.
- List your favorite meals. Slowly start mixing new ideas in with the familiar to create a library of go-to recipes.
- Inventory your pantry and freezer.
- Stock back up on basics you’re missing.
- Plan around grocery sales, affordable ingredients, and what you have on hand.
- Make up your list of meals – and write or type them out!
- Write up your grocery list – and shop from the list!
Decide also why you are meal planning. Are you trying to save money? Save time and effort? Get more organized? Feed your family more wholesome meals? Avoid the last-minute scramble to figure out what’s for dinner? Eat better and lose weight?
Figuring out why you meal plan will help you decide how best to meal plan.
Meal Planning Resources
Here are a number of meal planning resources to help get you started, or to help keep you on track with effective meal planning.
Find recipes for your meal plan
- Browse cookbooks from your local library
- Browse Pinterest — Search recipes, follow favorites, or just browse for inspiration
Find recipes by ingredient
Get nutrition info for foods and recipes
Get pre-made meal plans
Use or adapt pre-written meal plans from:
- MashupMom.com — free weekly ALDI meal plans with a printable, editable shopping list
- emeals.com — $5 a month
- Skinnytaste.com — free weekly healthy meal plans
- thescramble.com — about $2 a week for meal plans featuring 30 minute meals
Modify meal plans for your family
Substitute ingredients, swap out recipes, adapt around allergies, use up foods you already have, and make meal plans realistically fit your schedule…
Getting organized to meal plan
Check out a list of pantry staples to have on hand, and adapt so that it works for your own family’s needs and preferences.
Stock your pantry
- Take an inventory
- Pick up basics
- Stock up on sales
Pick a website or app that works for you, or go old school with paper and pen!
- copymethat.com — Add your own recipes; copy recipes from any website; create shopping lists
- paprikaapp.com — Organize recipes; create meal plans; make grocery lists
- plantoeat.com — Collect recipes; add to planner; make grocery lists
- Print out recipes and make a binder!
- recipekeeperonline.com — Recipe organizer, shopping list, meal planner
Meal Planning Calendars
Whether you scribble your weekly meal plan in a spiral notebook, keep it in Google Docs or in the Notes app on your phone, write it on a whiteboard on your fridge, or invest in a pretty weekly meal planner notebook, be sure to write or type it down. Just the action of doing so helps you commit to each week’s meal plan!
Here are a few more resources that might be helpful here:
- Pretty floral 8×10 meal planning calendar notebook
- Bloom weekly meal planning + shopping list magnetic tear-off pad
- Knock Knock 6×9 what to eat pad
- This Week’s Menu daily planner & notepad
- The Skinnytaste meal planner
Prep your meals
- Cook or prep on Sundays
- Have plans for your leftovers
- Cook a double batch; freeze half for later
Handy meal prep containers
- 21 pack three compartment meal prep containers
- 20 pack two compartment meal prep containers
- 20 pack one compartment meal prep containers
- 5 pack glass meal prep containers
Other meal planning resources or tips?
What other meal planning resources or tips have you found useful to help your family stay on track?