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Weekly Dinner Menu Planner PDF

One of the things I'm working on around here is getting into a consistent meal planning routine.

I've made attempts in the past and it's ebbed and waned. I'm feeling ready to put forth some real effort once again - not only in the actual act of meal planning but in the ritual of sitting at the table together.

For meal ideas I've been loving Pinterest (here's a look at the recipes I've pinned), Melanie's Menu Plan Mondays, or just asking what people are cooking for dinner on Twitter. I'm also loving re-reading (and trying recipes) from The Family Dinner: Great Ways To Connect With Your Kids One Meal At A Time.

I actually made this PDF dinner menu planner awhile ago and then could not for the life of me find it on my computer again. Well, I found it on Monday and I was so happy because it's just what I needed to get going.

For our family the planning I mainly need to do is for dinner during the week. Along the bottom I included space for planning meals on the weekend as well. For me the weekends have become a time to plan for the upcoming week, make something ahead if possible, etc.

I also included a little note about "new food" for Simon. He has a bit of a block (okay, more than "a bit") against anything "new." He calls just about anything "new" when it's not a part of his list of "preferred" foods. Having a "new" section helps me highlight what is really new and helps me to be able to visually show him that I don't actually give him new foods every single day.

Download the Weekly Dinner Menu Planner here.

Here's to hoping this will help some of you as well.

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98 thoughts

  1. dawn says…
    02/22/2012

    Thanks for sharing this with us Ali, looks good. Hope you will share more thru the months on how it goes for you and the kids. Every few months I say that we will change and start eating better but having 3 kids against my idea doesn't help. I have no problem eating well and include variety in my diet, it's just the hubby and kids who need to jump on board with me.

    I have been making monthly menues for 4/5 months now and it does help me to have it already planned out. We have less takeout this way if I have a plan. We have a list of foods we like and kinda like and I keep rotating them best I can. My next step is to get the kids in the kitchen more often to help prepare dinner but after all these years of cooking alone it's hard for me to make the change.

    Good luck with your family dinners!!
    p.s. I like that you included "NEW FOOD" that is a great idea and it's right where Simon can see it. My son needs that topic too. Thanks again!

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Katie Cannon says…
      02/22/2012

      Dawn I totally understand. We just finished the 21 day Daniel Fast and it is no meat, processed foods, dairy or sugar. So had encountered resistance from the kids and hubby, but I found just changing up the menu each night helped a lot. I did succeed in getting them to eat the homemade veggie burgers that I made and hid all kinds of veggies and they really liked it. I plan on keeping the more healthy choice for my self and hope to keep them up for them too, just adding a little meat to make them happy.

    2. dawn says…
      02/22/2012

      Hi Katie,

      Glad to see there's another one trying to feel their family well. I like the part about no processed food, that is what I really try to do. Their lunches have all processed food and it bothers me but it's all I know they will eat and I can't be there to watch them. So at home when I have more control our menus are more healthy and balanced. They do better if I plan ahead and try to make sure not to plan two nights in a row of healthy food. This makes it a little easier for them so I do the best I can. It is hard to please so many at one time though. Good luck!!

  2. Haley D. says…
    02/22/2012

    Very cool printable! Thanks for sharing. I have a small dry erase board on my fridge that I've blocked into sections with a permanent marker. I use magnets of each day of the week for each block (and that way it's easy to change the day to switch meals around if something comes up). The unexpected benefit of menu planning at my house is that our daughters (10 & 13) have quit complaining about what I'm fixing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Katrina says…
    02/22/2012

    die-hard menu planner here - and die-hard family meals proponent! we've eaten dinner at the table nightly for at least 10 years. i do think that it's made a tremendous difference in my relationship with my kids as they've become teens/young adults. menu planning also became a necessity when i became a vegetarian - i find it much harder to just "wing it."

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Sarah says…
    02/22/2012

    We always have eaten at the table, but now we're 20's we're having easy convincience food more, and eating in the lounge as the table is covered with "stuff" I think taking a little time to plan might mean we eat better and more consciously. Love the printable- will be a cool addition to your project life too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Amy says…
    02/22/2012

    love this ali!!! it inspires me. i have taken meal planning to the ulitmate simplicity - the same thing every week. monday hamburgers, tuesday steak, etc... so much so that last night was "new" when we had rice with the steak. my husband must eat a very plain diet so this has worked well for him, but turned my kids into quite picky eaters. good luck!! i hope you'll share some of your most successful recipes :O)

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. MonicaB says…
    02/22/2012

    I was meal planning on a regular bases last year and it made my life so much easier at 5:00 pm. I haven't been doing it and I really miss it. Thanks for the great tool to help kick my butt in gear and start doing this again. I have a very picky eater too and it gets frustrating trying to fed a family of 5, all with different taste. Best of luck with your meal planning!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. libby gordon says…
    02/22/2012

    I have made a weekly menu plan for several years and I post it on the refridgerator. My kids, one who is on the autism spectrum HAVE to know what we are having for dinner so this has saved my sanity. It's a great habit to get into.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Susan says…
    02/22/2012

    i've made a menu the last couple months for an entire month. i mostly just include dinner but sometimes a special breakfast is included. i also included date nights with my husband - then my boys know when to expect to cook their own meal (plus they love us going on dates); we include family swim night which includes eating out every other week. Since we host a small group on sunday evenings i also include dessert one night a week. all that said it has been amazing with grocery shopping planning, to just dealing better with life because i'm not wondering what i'm fixin' for the evening. we've always eaten together, at the dinner table, as a family (even when my girls still lived at home) so i know the need or draw to have that connection, that routine, that tradition.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Robin says…
    02/22/2012

    This looks like a great tool to help in the "what's for dinner" battle! Plan to post it somewhere that the kids can see it. I find this helps keep me accountable to actually fix what I said I'm going to fix. I have a lot more motivation to stick to the plan (instead of doing something easier or maybe faster) when I know that the kids have checked the meal plan in advance and are expecting something. I get a lot fewer complaints and arguments about what we are having for dinner, too!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. jamie says…
    02/22/2012

    This is fabulous.
    I am always planning meals (with a family of 7 I have to.) But I needed to renew what I was doing. Love the format of this. And also really enjoying pinterest finds and working towards organizing that better as well as bettering our pantry. Even added that story to project life.
    Thanks again, Ali!
    ~j

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Janie says…
    02/22/2012

    Thank you so much for the freebie.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. {vicki} says…
    02/22/2012

    I do just the opposite---I have more time to cook on the weekends so I cook several meals on saturday and sunday and then we eat left overs through the week. That way were eating healthy homecooked meals through the week but it only takes minutes to reheat and enjoy.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Molly says…
    02/22/2012

    i can certainly use this. have made them myself in the past, but not used one consistently. thanks!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Melissa says…
    02/22/2012

    Definitely making meals ahead when being a working parent is helpful. Takes the stress off the 'run-home-get-dinner-on-the-table' routine. I usually spend the weekends making up stuff for the week. Good Luck!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Camilla Blue says…
    02/22/2012

    There are tons of printable menu planning sheets available online, but not very many so aesthetically pleasing. Love that everything you do is designed so beautifully. I will enjoy using it. Thank you for sharing with us all.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      02/22/2012

      Thank you - I appreciate that :).

  16. Lori says…
    02/22/2012

    thank you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. kristina says…
    02/22/2012

    Thank you, Ali!
    I also meal plan, but NEED to be better on the weekend. Have a blessed day! :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Melissa says…
    02/22/2012

    How is Simon at trying unpreferred foods? Is it something that's gotten easier for him as he ages? I have an 8yo with autism and eating is our biggest hurdle with face with him. Short of hiring an expensive feeding therapist I don't know what to do with him anymore. He will only eat dry crunchy carbs (dry Cheerios, crackers, pretzels, etc.), plain Mott's natural applesauce, and peach Yoplait yogurt. That's IT. Watching the rest of us eat causes him anxiety (which is an improvement from when he was little and would physically gag watching us eat), so he rarely sits at the table with us.
    He's so amazing and has come so far, except in this one (pretty critical!) area.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      02/22/2012

      Morning Melissa - it has gotten better over time but it is still a major daily issue. I'd say it's gotten significantly better in the last two years just in our ability to reason with him a bit more and have him understand that we aren't giving him anything we wouldn't eat ourselves and that we inter-mix new things with dinners he loves. His diet is a bit more varied than your son's and he will try (after significant protesting - which has lessened just a little bit) new things. His aversion is to textures, smells, and the idea that anything is "new." There have been times when this wasn't the issue we wanted to tackle - but over the last two years we decided we wanted to focus on it more.

  19. Sammy G. says…
    02/22/2012

    I love this!!!
    I love being organized, it helps me prepare better what I am going to eat before I get home from work

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Megan Beverly says…
    02/22/2012

    LOOOOOVE the New Food section. That would be perfect for our family, too. I guess you're going to force me to stop procrastinating now. Thanks, Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Cecilia says…
    02/22/2012

    I love seeing how others plan their meals. I use something similar: http://cecimadden.com/2011/09/30/simple-meal-planning-grocery-shopping-list/, that includes a shopping list based on the meal I've planned.

    I'll admit that most weeks I simply fill this out in my head, but it at least gives me a framework for thinking about what to make/buy. Good luck with your meal planning!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Christine says…
    02/22/2012

    Thanks for this Ali. I have a combo menu planner/shopping list that I found a while ago. It really helps me to have everything in one place, and shop the store sales when planning the week's meals. But I LOVE your section about "new foods". My girls are on the spectrum and we are having the hardest time getting them out of the french fries/pizza/PB&J phase. I've been making two dinners...something for me and hubs, something for them. usually they're interrelated...but it definitely involves more planning for me. And frustration because more often than not, the food ends up in the trash. :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. cj savage says…
    02/22/2012

    thanks SO much for sharing this ali! it's awesome & you're the best!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. liza says…
    02/22/2012

    Thanks Ali!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Steph says…
    02/22/2012

    I would like to second what Camilla Blue said...something about the way you design things really brings it home, lol! I've tried I don't know how many times to do this, and I think your format may be just what I needed.

    My older son is 11 and pretty much just eats various combinations of cheese and bread (pizza, mac & cheese, quesadillas, tacos with just cheese, etc.) Having a space for "new food" will really help me be better about having him at least try something different each meal. Excellent addition to the planner!!

    I grew up eating around a family dinner table and my boys have too. It's all about traditions for me...security, something they can count on: no matter what their day has been like, they know they will be eating with people who love them. :)

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Stephanie Kennedy says…
      02/23/2012

      Well, my older one tried baked beans last night, lol!! His main course was still mac & cheese, but I consider it progress that he at least tried. And he *loved* the printed menu sheet...I wrote in there what we were having and he saw the "New Food:" section and was all over that. Ali=1, Picky Eaters=0.

      LOL!!

    2. Ali says…
      02/22/2012

      Yep, those combinations of cheese and bread are Simon's preferred foods too :). Except mac & cheese - he's not a noodle fan. It's something he will eat though - once he gets that we are not serving anything else.

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