One of the simplest things you can do to save time, money, and your sanity is to have a family meal plan. And the easiest way to do that is to start with a Meal Plan Master List.
A meal plan master list is simply a custom catalog of go-to dinners that (almost) everyone in your family likes.
It only takes a few minutes to make one, (here’s a free printable template to help you get started!) and it saves you tons of time by taking the guesswork out when it actually comes to making your meal plan.
And, if for some reason, you don’t actually get around to making a meal plan for the week, you can use the master list as a reference tool when the question arises; “what’s for dinner?”
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MAKING YOUR LIST
It is super easy to write your list. Just grab a pen and paper and start brainstorming all of the meals that your family enjoys on a regular basis.
Where to Find Meal Idea Inspiration:
- Ask each family member to list their favorites for you. (Each time I do this I learn things I didn’t know about what my kids and husband REALLY like to eat!)
- Check your favorite cookbooks, blogs, your Pinterest boards…anywhere that you might ordinarily look for recipes or meal ideas.
- Big kids might like to write out their own list and hand it to you. I tell them that it doesn’t matter how weird or unusual the meal is. If it’s something they’ve enjoyed in the past, they can put it on their list.
- Look in your freezer and pantry. You might get all sorts of inspiration when you see what’s in there!
With all of the ideas that you brainstormed, you can use the free printable family favorites page to categorize your meals. The sections are pre-labeled for your convenience, so all you have to do is fill it in and keep it somewhere handy.
Or, use your own notebook or journal if that is what works for you. The important thing is getting the list down on paper so you can start using it right away.
TIPS FOR USING THE MASTER LIST:
- Print off several copies and assign each page to a different cooking method: InstantPot, CrockPot, AirFryer etc.
- Categorize multiple pages for Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan, Whole30, THM, or any other eating lifestyles that you follow in your home. We have some dietary restrictions in our family so we like to mix it up!
- Have a separate Master List for new meals that the family hasn’t tried yet for those days when you are feeling adventurous.
- Change up your Master Lists periodically to take advantage of in-season fruits and vegetables, weather etc. Our Family Favorites Summer Edition has lighter fare and grilled entrees. Whereas, Winter Edition is all about comfort foods!
- Try making separate master lists for categories like 30 minute meals, simple dinners, pantry and freezer meals, etc.
- I keep my lists in a clipboard with my meal plan. But you might like to use a binder or maybe even just the kitchen drawer or refrigerator if you are keeping things real simple.
Now you have your own custom master list of meals to help you streamline your meal planning!
Get the FREE printable HERE.
More kitchen tips here: 10 Simple Habits for a Cleaner Kitchen