Meal planning is a simple way to make busy weeknights economical and easygoing. As spring begins to hover on the horizon, many of you will become involved with extracurricular activities that might keep you in the drive thru line more nights than you’d like. Try these resources that help you plan to eat. You’ll be able to take the “What’s for dinner?” question off your plate and replace it with a healthy, balanced dinner that didn’t come in a paper sack.

Grocery Lists & Pre-Made Menus

Your mother probably told you to never go to the store without a list. Sometimes the time it takes to figure out which ingredients are needed for which recipe becomes overwhelming. Don’t let list making be your hurdle. The following sites will help you easily plan your list so you can get in and out of the store with energy left for cooking dinner.
Plan to Eat This resource comes highly recommended by bloggers and offers a free 30 day trial. Featuring a drag and drop menu you can load with family favorites, Plan to Eat will also make your customized grocery list and has an app for easy access anywhere you are.
Dinner Answers Created by a nutritionist, this service will send you menu plans and shopping lists customized to your dietary needs. There’s an iPhone app available and plenty of free resources.
My Family Meal Planner Exactly what it says it is–a spiral bound planner that comes complete with menus and grocery lists for up to a year’s worth of meals to satisfy your family.
The Scramble Founded by a mom who understands the six o’clock scramble, this resource features 30-minute kid friendly meals.

Weeknight Dinner Plans

If a pre-fix menu and list isn’t your style, simply consider a handful of meals that your family enjoys. Rotate these throughout your busy times. Between the Instant Pot, Crockpot, and taco night, you’ll have no trouble getting dinner on the table–or in hand as you head back out the door. After all, if fast food can be eaten in the car, so can homemade subs and carrot sticks.
Great recipe resources:
Taste of Home
Eating Well
Family Fresh Meals (Instant Pot)
Family Fresh Meals (Crockpot)

Weekly & Monthly Calendars

Another easy way to keep your dinner on schedule is to make a weekly or monthly menu plan and hang it on your fridge or kitchen wall. The internet is full of lovely printables just for this purpose! Here are some of our favorites. Now go and fill them with yours!
Two quick tips when menu planning:

  1. Look at your calendar for the week as you plan so you know which nights have less prep time than others.
  2. Look for recipes that use the same ingredients. For example, if you only need half a bell pepper for taco night you can use the leftovers in spaghetti sauce.

Organized Island (includes B/L/D and prep notes)
Orchard Girls (variety of printables for meal planning by season or holiday)
Little Housewife (roundup of templates and tricks)

Happy eating–and meal planning!