First of all, let me say, the days of the week are busy. The weekend is busy. We are ALWAYS busy. As a mom I’m trying to make sure my kids are well rounded little people, learning, and in the right activities. I’m trying to give them the experiences of childhood: taking zoo trips, going to the splash pad, and parks and having playdates and on and on and on. All while keeping the house clean, cooking and staying on a budget. If you are someone that can juggle all of that at the same time without writing anything down and NOT have all the balls dropping, bouncing, zigzagging everywhere then I applaud you. That person is not me.

I use a planner. I use a paper planner. I have a bullet journal. I have lists saved on my computer. I have lists saved on my phone. I have lists upon lists. I have a wall calendar (mostly for the kids.) And I ALSO have a marvelous meal plan, dry erase magnet I stick to my fridge.  

These tools help me stay organized, but do no good if they aren’t updated regularly and used throughout the week!

On Sunday, I gather all my materials and I look behind, I look ahead and I make a plan.


Review what worked last week. What meals did the kids like? When were you not able to complete what was planned and why? Did you set your goals too high considering what else was going on? Were your goals unrealistic?

When you make a new plan, it’s essential to make observations of what has worked and what has not worked for you and your family in the past. Make a meal plan and set goals based on the facts about what works for you, not plans and goals based on nothing.  


Are there doctors appointments or late nights at work? On days when it’s going to be crazy I plan a super simple dinner or a crock pot meal, so that things can come together quickly in the evenings. Part of making a successful plan that you can stick to is taking these things into consideration. You want to be realistic. Be kind to yourself. You can’t cook your mom’s stellar lasagna in 15 minutes (It takes an hour in the oven and a half hour to set!) It may be delicious but its nowhere near realistic. Maybe save that for a weekend. Just be aware of time commitments and how tired you’ll be or what kind of a time crunch you’ll be in. This step is vital. If you have a busy week, your goals shouldn’t be time consuming either.


Usually when I meal plan I like to vary the protein from day to day. In essence I don’t have beef as the main course three days in a row. So we rotate our proteins, in order to have a variety of meals including vegetarian choices as well as fish, chicken, pork and beef.

When I get stumped or my brain is simply not functioning in coming up with menu ideas, I reference my meal planning cheat sheet on my computer. It’s got loads of family favorites broken down into protein categories and is a simple reference sheet.

I highly recommend starting a meal plan cheat sheet of your own as you continue on your meal planning journey. I will share mine with you, but that is another post for another day.


In addition to meal planning, I set a few goals for the week and ask my family if they have any goals they would like to accomplish. My four year old has set goals like “Jump ten times every day” and “go on a walk” and “have a play date with my friend from dance”. I do what I can to help her with her goals too! This week my husband’s goal is to “Run 3 times”.

Basically, all these goals are measurable, attainable goals that get us closer to our overarching goals as a family: growing together, being healthier, building a nurturing home and learning.

I write our weeks goals next to our meal plan so every time I look up what’s for dinner I’m reminded of what we said we wanted to do this week. Me? I’m trying to drink 3 glasses of water every day and planning to set up a new sensory bin for my kids to explore!


Based on your menu you can easily create a grocery list now. Just pull up the recipes you plan to use, copy down the ingredients and you’re sure to have what you need for dinners. Add in your essentials and put any additional items you may need to achieve your goals you set (like sensory activities for the kids) and you’re done. Ready to shop and to start your week out organized for success.  

This whole process takes about 10 to 15 minutes but is vital to starting the week off the right way!

I know it is a game changer for my family. Without a plan in place, we typically resort to too much TV time and end up grabbing a meal out more than once which costs more than home cooking and usually isn’t as healthy either.

Let me know if you have success with this method. I’d love to hear your feed back!

COMMENT if you found this post helpful or if you have your own tips to add!

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