I have a secret to share – I am the WORST meal planner.
There, I said it. I run a blog all about giving advice to stay-at-home-moms, and I am a horrible meal planner. Everyone’s bad at something, right? I know there are many benefits to meal planning but I’ve been late to the game and know I need to get better at it.
Planning what my family eats before the week even begins is the most awkward thing to me. Mainly because my personal preference is to choose what I want to eat based on what I’m craving that day, not what I decided last Sunday would be our meal this evening.
But, in all reality, my system doesn’t work very well for a family. We inevitably get to 5 p.m. and I’m scrambling to nail down what we’re having for dinner. I’ve been operating this way for years, and recently I figured out a better way.
It’s a system that allows me to *kind of* plan what we’re having yet also have some flexibility on the exact meal for each day. It’s a THEMED MEAL NIGHT plan.
The basic premise is simple – you just choose a type of meal or cuisine and pair it with a night of the week that makes the most sense (or that rhymes!). We started with Manwich Monday, then Taco Tuesdays, and went from there.
This style of menu planning works for me because I can switch up the entrée and sides each week to fit the theme, which gives us variety. The key to making a meal plan like this work is to pick a style of food you know everyone in your family will eat (for instance, if your kids rarely like stir-fry, then don’t force it). Make the meal night themes as popular as possible.
SAMPLE WEEKLY MENU PLAN – THEMED MEAL NIGHT IDEAS
- Breakfast Sundays – Breakfast for dinner! Think: eggs, oven potatoes, fruit. Mix it up! Do pancakes one week and French toast the next.
- Manwich Monday – We taste tested Manwich a few months ago for a blog post, and the kids loved it so much we put it into rotation! They have three varieties – Thick & Chunky, Bold, and Original. We either have it as a sloppy joe or use one of these Manwich Monday Recipes.
- Taco Tuesdays – Traditional tacos, fish tacos, tortilla bakes
- Italian Wednesdays – Any kind of pasta dish will do. Soup works, too!
- Leftover Thursdays – It’s always a good idea to build in a day to eat up all the leftovers from the week. Sometimes we make a game out of it and do a fridge challenge.
- Pizza Fridays – You can order in or grab a ball of dough from your grocery store and top it however you like. One of our favorite ways to make pizza is with Indian naan as the base. It goes great topped with just cheese and olives or even sun-dried tomatoes.
- Soupy Saturday – Our favorite is chili (turkey, beef, vegetarian) with baked potatoes. Other ideas include chicken and dumplings, chicken noodle soup, or tomato soup with grilled cheese.
FREE WEEKLY MEAL PLAN PRINTABLES
To go along with the sample weekly themed night meal plan above, I’m providing two printable meal planning templates. One blue and one yellow to suit your color preferences!
To download either one (both PDF format), click on the images below to go to that post. Feel free to share with friends and let them in on this meal planning strategy. I know they will love it!
I’ve been following this style of weekly meal planning for nearly a month and love it already. It reduces my mealtime stress and makes food shopping super simple. And whenever we stray off plan by eating out on a whim, I just shift all the days by one or freeze ingredients as needed.
More About Manwich Monday: Traditional Sloppy Joe Recipe
Our favorite way to eat Manwich is the way I ate it as a kid – by making sloppy joes! It really couldn’t be simpler. From beginning to end, it takes 15 minutes or less. 🙂
Step 1 – Brown the ground beef (or turkey), you will need this in addition to Manwich since the sauce is meatless.
Step 2 – Pour in the Manwich sauce
Step 3 – Stir & cook another minute or so to heat up the sauce
Step 4 – Enjoy your sloppy joes!
Remember, you will need both hands to eat Manwich, so no phones at the table!
I want to thank Manwich for sponsoring this post – they made it possible for me to provide the meal planning printables above, so I hope you give their products a try!