Real Life Solutions

Family Meal Planning Tips

Family meal planning is a life saver for most families. Just imagine creating an easy meal plan and knowing what you are going to be serving up for meals each day of the week? You will save time, money and your sanity. Also see Meal Planning Central for a free meal planning report.

Family meal planning is a wonderful technique that you can utilize and modify to fit your families needs. The idea behind this is simple. The principle of family meal planning is set up so that you cook and or prepare your meals ahead of time and then preserve them by either freezing or refrigerating them. Also, with family meal planning you can cook one large meal and get 2-3 other meals out of it!

The key here is to make every meal you cook count! When you are going to prepare a family favorite, double, triple, even quadruple the recipe if it will keep in the freezer.

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Why not give yourself a much-needed break - cook ahead today, so you can relax tomorrow!

The first step in family meal planning is always the most challenging. To make it less challenging I suggest that you grab the following supplies: Pen, paper, your personal recipe collection or your favorite cookbook and a comfortable chair.

Start by writing down a list of your favorite meals and plan on preparing a grocery list that will coincide with your list. Now, since we are talking bulk cooking here – if you normally would serve up one pot of spaghetti – plan to serve 2 (that would mean that you will have to double the recipe – so be sure to alter your shopping list accordingly) – It will take the same amount of time to cook – just a little extra planning is needed.

Next you can use a blank calendar and simply write the meals down on the day you will serve them. I personally post my meal plan up on my refrigerator for the entire house to see. This also helps to prompt me for the next day of meals that will be served.

The most important tool in meal planning and bulk cooking is your freezer. If you have a small freezer, don't fret; you can fit many meals in that small freezer space – it will just call for a little more creativity on your part. With the use of freezer bags, that you can stack flat and the use of some freezer proof containers you will be surprised at how many meals your freezer can hold.

Essential meal planning techniques and tips


Using this strategy requires you to cook many main course meals in one day. For instance, on a Sunday morning you could prepare a roast in your Crock pot, some spaghetti on top of the stove, a baked Chicken in the oven and perhaps a nice salad. You also could quarter and boil some potatoes, cook some rice and some veggies (either fresh or canned). What you now have is 5 different meals that you can use throughout the entire week. You can eat one of the meals that very evening and you could Freeze or refrigerate the rest. This technique works very well for some people and it provides a wide variety of dishes that you can use. I personally use this technique from time to time. I usually do my multi-recipe cooking on a Sunday and it can take up to 5 hrs to complete but what you are left with is 2 weeks worth of food that you can enjoy. And notice that the meals that I use in my Multi-recipe list are easy to prepare.

One Cook Wonder

With this strategy you would cook one main course recipe that can be used for different meals. For Instance, let's say you just baked a large turkey. You could slice some of the turkey off and serve the breast with gravy, dice some of the turkey and prepare a turkey gumbo and use the rest for either a soup or turkey salad. Mind you, you do not have to prepare all of those meals on one day. After the Turkey has been cooked and cooled, you can freeze and refrigerate the turkey that you cut off the carcass and prepare your other Turkey related meals at a different time.

Quick and Easy meals

Be sure to incorporate those quick and easy meals into your planning process. If your family loves Sloppy Joes – cook up the sloppy joe meat in bulk and freeze it – then all you need to do is defrost the meat, grab some buns and viola.

What about Hamburger Helper? Why not cook 2-3 boxes of it, separate it into 3 separate large containers and freeze them. That idea alone allows you to prepare 3 meals in just 30-minutes.

Designate a meal for a particular night

Every Friday night in my house is either Pizza or burger night. The idea here is to choose any night of the week and just designate a meal to go with that night. I always make sure that I have plenty of Frozen Pizza's with a variety of toppings on hand in my freezer. The same goes for those Turkey burger patties (my family doesn't eat much ground beef). The idea behind this process is that you now have one night's meal already planned. You can also stock up on that meal when the products are on sale. If you see Frozen pizza's being sold in bulk, grab them up!

Love your leftovers

This is one of my favorite parts of meal planning as it allows you to use your imagination. At least every other week or so be sure to go through your refrigerator and take inventory of what you have in there. When you combine 2-3 leftovers, you may find that you have a meal right there. You can use left over pasta from spaghetti to prepare a pasta salad, leftover spaghetti sauce and just a few pieces of chicken can be a wonderful dish to top with cheese and place in the oven. Again, with a little imagination – you can make your leftovers work for you!

Use the sales paper

Everyone loves a good sale and I use the sales paper to help me in my meal planning. When I see our Family favorites on sale – instead of buying one, I will purchase 3-4 of the same items and simply come home and prepare the meals or freeze the food that I purchased. My family and I love Chicken. When I spot whole chickens on sale I've been known to purchase up to 5-6 at a time. Keep in mind that I have a family of 6 and in my family of six; there are 3 teenagers (and you know how much they can consume). By shopping like this, I actually save hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year in food alone!

Helpful supplies

Labels / freezer bags / Freezer-proof containers

Be sure that you have all of your freezing and refrigerating needs on hand. When storing food in freezer safe containers be sure to place a label on the container with the name of the meal and the date the meal was prepared.


This handy appliance is my best friend in the kitchen. When using a crockpot you literally prepare the meal, place it in the crockpot, Set it & Forget it. It is a hands free cooking experience. I cook whole chickens in my crock pot and then slice the chicken up to freeze and use for sandwiches, enchilada's, chicken salads, chicken soup, chicken stew.. as you can see – the possibilities are endless.

As you can see, family meal planning is a money, sanity and time saver – what else could a busy mom ask for? Now, let's get Cookin'!

FAQs related to family meal planning

What is family meal planning?

Family meal planning is a technique where you cook and prepare meals ahead of time, and then preserve them by freezing or refrigerating them. It helps to save time, money, and sanity by ensuring you know what you are serving up for meals each day of the week.

What are the benefits of family meal planning?

Family meal planning helps to save time, money, and sanity. It allows you to prepare meals ahead of time, so you don't have to worry about what to cook for dinner each day. Additionally, by cooking in bulk, you can save money on ingredients and reduce food waste.

What are some essential meal planning techniques and tips?

Essential meal planning techniques and tips include multi-recipes, one cook wonder, quick and easy meals, designating a meal for a particular night, and using sales papers. Multi-recipes involve cooking many main course meals in one day, while one cook wonder involves cooking one main course recipe that can be used for different meals. Quick and easy meals are easy to prepare meals that you can freeze and reheat later. Designating a meal for a particular night involves choosing a specific meal to go with a specific night. Using sales papers involves planning meals around the deals you find in grocery store ads.

How do I start family meal planning?

To start family meal planning, write down a list of your favorite meals, plan your grocery list accordingly, and use a blank calendar to write the meals down on the day you will serve them. You can post your meal plan up on your refrigerator for the entire house to see.

How do I store the meals I prepare?

The most important tool in meal planning and bulk cooking is your freezer. You can use freezer bags that you can stack flat and freezer proof containers to store the meals. If you have a small freezer, you can still fit many meals in that small freezer space by being creative.

How often should I do family meal planning?

Family meal planning can be done on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, depending on your preference and schedule. The key is to find a routine that works for you and your family.


Well, that's it for my family meal planning guide! I hope it was helpful for all my fellow busy moms out there who are looking to make their lives a little easier. By following these simple steps, you can save time and stress while also ensuring that your family is getting the nutrition they need. Remember, meal planning doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming. With a little bit of effort and organization, you can have delicious and healthy meals on the table every night of the week. So, what are you waiting for? Get started on your meal plan today and see the difference it makes in your life!