Meal Plans

Lockdown Meal Planning Tips For the Whole Family

Cut back on cooking time and get healthy meals on the table without the stress.

By: Rebecca Jacobs

In this current season of life, we are all spending lots of time at home, which means we are getting to spend quality time with family as well. And, if the whole family could use a bit of a change when it comes to mealtime, you’re going to want in on this. We’re breaking down effective meal planning tips for the whole family. From making sure everyone gets a healthy and filling breakfast in, to having dinner on the table without stress, we have the hacks you need to make family meal planning easier. 

So, make an activity out of it — we’re showing you how family meal planning can, in fact, be fun! 

5 Family Meal Planning Hacks (Stress-Free) 

#1 Spend an Afternoon Making a Master Recipe List 

We’ve all been given the gift of extra time at home right now, so use an afternoon to scour through old cookbooks, magazines, and looking through your favorite food blogs for recipe ideas. Getting the whole fam involved making family meal planning easier and less stressful. 

Everyone can contribute to the recipe list, making sure there are meals that everyone will enjoy. Ideally, select at least ten, being sure to stick to some that are easy and include pantry staples. Once you have your list of recipes, keep them all in one spot. 

Pro tip: Print out all the recipes and keep them in a master family meal planning binder! If you’re feeling super organized, create monthly tabs and store each month’s recipes in the corresponding section of the binder. 

#2 Create the Meal Plan & Start With The Meals You Have Ingredients For

Now that you have your recipes selected, get everyone together, and get on the computer to create the actual meal plan, narrowing down the recipes you’ll use for week one. You can use a basic Word Doc, or if you’re feeling fancy, websites like Canva allow you to make beautiful meal plan designs that you can print and hang on the fridge. 

And, start by choosing recipes that call for ingredients you already have stocked. This will take some of that initial meal prepping stress away. 

#3 Repeat a Week 

While you’re making your plan, consider using the exact same meals for two weeks in a row. This will cut down on prep and cook time because you can double or triple the recipes and store leftovers in the freezer. Plus, chances are, you’ll save yourself some cash at the store. Win! 

#4 Plan For Week One 

Now that you have the ball rolling with family meal planning, it’s time to get planning for week one. Write out all the ingredients you need for the first week, and if you’re sticking to recipes using what you already have on hand, hopefully, a grocery trip isn’t needed! But if it is, this is why you’ll want to put a little time into planning before you actually start cooking. 

Realize one recipe isn’t going to work? Now’s the time to swap it out with something else you already have the ingredients for. 

#5 Choose a Leftover Day 

Here’s another family meal planning hack that makes things SO much easier. Decide on one day of the week where you’ll only eat leftovers in the fridge. Not only will this save you time, but you’ll cut down on food waste too (sign us up!) 

This is a hack we all should try to use more of as it may be a gamechanger when it comes to reducing the amount of time you have to spend cooking in the kitchen each week. 

Sample Family Meal Plan 

To help you get started, we’re sharing a sample family meal plan that includes recipes that require little prep time and use basic pantry staples

Monday 

Breakfast: Easy banana bread muffins

Lunch: Almond butter sandwich made with almond butter and hemp or flax seeds if you have those on hand. Drizzle with raw honey and enjoy with fresh fruit. 

Dinner: Quick & Easy Turkey Chili 

Tuesday 

Breakfast: Rolled oats served with nut butter of choice, fresh fruit, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. 

Lunch: Leftovers from last night’s dinner 

Dinner: Easy Prep Turkey Meatloaf 

Wednesday 

Breakfast: Banana pancakes made with two mashed bananas, ¼ cup peanut butter, and one egg. Cook as you would traditional pancakes and enjoy with pure maple syrup. 

Lunch: Cooked rice served with whatever protein option you have on hand, and one cup of steamed veggies. 

Dinner: Shepherd’s Pie 

Thursday 

Breakfast: Easy banana bread muffins

Lunch: Leftovers from last night’s dinner

Dinner: Taco night! Make tacos with cooked rice, whatever protein you have on hand, and canned food items you may already have in your pantry like corn, beans, and salsa. 

Friday 

Breakfast: Rolled oats served with nut butter of choice, fresh fruit, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. 

Lunch: Dairy-free Mac & Cheese

Dinner: Quick & Easy Turkey Chili

Note: Remember to pick one day out of the week where you only eat leftovers! Choose which day makes the most sense, depending on how much leftover food you have in your fridge.

Family Meal Planning Made Easy 

Meal planning is often viewed as a dreaded task, especially if you aren’t a big fan of cooking. But, with these family meal planning tips, you may just find it helps save your sanity in the kitchen and makes it easier than ever to get healthy meals on the table for the whole family to enjoy every single day.