Writing a Weekly Meal Plan is great for keeping your week organized and less stressful, while also making dinner time fast as well as saving you time and money.
Are you tired of the 5 o’clock dilemma?
It sneaks up on us each and every day… dinner time!
I’m here to tell you that writing and planning a dinner menu is actually a lot easier than you think. Especially when you take into account my easy tips and tricks to keep things fresh and interesting each week.
How To Compose a Complete Meal
The first thing we need to talk about is how to compose a dinner. Here is my simple formula for creating a dinner…
- Main Protein – chicken, beef, pork, seafood, beans
- Starch – rice, pasta, potato, beans
- Vegetable/Fruit – use seasonal produce if possible
Not every meal needs every single item, but this is a good place to start.
I go into more detail on the process of how to put together a dinner in this blog post here: Easy Dinner Menu Ideas
Now that you’re well versed on how to put a dinner together, here are some of my favorite ways to put together a weekly meal plan.
Tips When Writing A Meal Plan –
Work With What You Have
- Take a look in your fridge and pantry to get an idea of what ingredients you already have that may need to be used up this week.
- If you have fresh produce that needs to be used, put it towards the beginning of the week.
- Keep your calendar close by and take that into consideration when planning your menu. (example: soccer practice on Wednesday night = quick dinner needed)
Write It Down
- Sit down each week and write out your meal plan on a simple calendar, piece of paper, white board or jot it in your phone’s calendar.
- Write down any ingredients you will need for the week on a shopping list as you’re writing up your menu. Go shopping and get what you need so you’re ready when dinner time comes.
- Keep your menu posted where everyone can see it. (example: magnet it to the fridge, write it on a white board where everyone can see, share a google calendar)
PRO TIP: Sometimes things come up and dinners need to be changed or moved around. Don’t stress! Just simply slide it over to a new day (this is why I usually leave Friday open).
Top Secret Tips To Keep It Fresh & Interesting
Over the many years of dinner planning I’ve developed a system that keeps things fresh and interesting for both my family and myself (the one cooking).
I take three things into consideration, then use those three things to switch it up each and every night.
- Main Protein – chicken, beef, pork, seafood, vegetarian
- Method – slow cooker, one pot, baked, Instant pot, air fryer, grilled, casserole
- Cuisine – Italian, American, Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean, etc.
I’ll take one from each category to create the meal, then switch it up for each day (based on ingredients I have on hand, seasonality and my schedule).
Here’s an example –
- One Pot
A quick search on my site and I have several options to choose from, but this one looks like it’ll be perfect for my busy schedule – One Skillet Chicken Parmesan Pasta
Since this dish already has a protein (chicken) and starch (pasta), I would most likely pair this with a salad or steamed veggie and add it to the menu.
PRO TIP: If you have a slow cooker recipe or something that needs to be pulled out of the freezer to defrost, make sure you set an alarm or alert on your phone to remind you in the morning so you don’t forget!
Free Downloadable Weekly Meal Plans & Shopping List
I know it can be difficult to come up with a meal plan at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a pro.
I’ve created two weeks of meal plans (with shopping lists) that are completely free to get you started. Each recipe is found on my site with complete instructions. (Use the search bar to find it)
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FREE MEAL PLANS
Free Blank Weekly Meal Planner
Ready to get started with your own customized meal plan? Great! Here is a blank dinner meal plan for you to print and use.
PRO TIP: Remember to place the meal plan in a location where everyone can see it and it wont get forgotten.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BLANK MEAL PLANNER
Don’t forget that I have a handy Ingredients Index that lets you search recipes by a specific ingredient – making it easy to use up ingredients you have in your fridge or pantry.
With these tips and tools, you’re well on your way to becoming a meal planning pro.
Got any questions? Feel free to leave a comment below (which will help any others who might have the same question)!
this is exactly how I do my weekly meal planning and shopping , I use google calendar to put the meals in for the week and then shop twice a week. I try to not have too many carbs at one meal. For summer, mainly salads with protein. winter time , protein, carb & veggies. great ideas and blog keep it up!
Love your site. So many great recipes. I am always looking for new meal ideas.
Haven’t even tried any of the recipes yet, but I already know I’ll be coming back to this site when I need something new to make. And I love all of the tools your website has to find different recipes. Can’t wait to make some food!
I really appreciate you touching on how you can use beans in a dish as the main protein. My brother is trying to get a new meal plan that will help him lose weight. He needs to make sure that he is trying lots of dishes from local restaurants to find some that he really likes. https://thenazarethdiner.com/
Hi Shawn. I don’t know how long you have had this blog but you are a great blessing to my almost New Year 2021 in 20 minutes. I will be using recipes you have shared and on top of that there healthy. Thank you for being here for me as well as others who need a facelift with food.
I’ve been blogging nearly 11 years now! I’m so glad you found my site and truly appreciate your comment. Made my day!
I cannot believe that I am just learning of I Wash You Dry, just by searching for recipes. Everything looks amazing, I know my jaw dropped with all of the content you have on your website and blog. Your food is my kind of food. Thank you for all that you do, it has made my life so much simpler.
You’re so sweet! Thank you Tracey! I hope you find many recipes to enjoy here. 🙂
I have no prejudice about writing a meal plan or more,or not writing that,as I have no prejudice about eating vegetables or eating meats!But after all,this that you said,very bravely was so much beautiful.Yes some times it is is a good useful way.
Thanks for your comment!
I am thrilled I found you! Seems too good to be true!
Awww!! Thank you Dianne! I am glad you found me too! 🙂
Hi Shawn. Love your blog – but was disappointed to see nearly all the comments were from Escort Agencies. Maybe a good clean-up is recommended. Why these people need to advertise on your site is beyond me.
Please keep up your great work in helping us average people in the kitchen. <3
Thanks for pointing this out to me Susan! So glad you’re here!
I’ve done meal planning for years kudos to you for sharing it. What we like is that we have everything on hand so if we want to switch up a couple of nights it’s there.
Thanks Sarah! I hope it helps you!