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What’s Cooking Menu Planner Printable

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This free What’s Cooking Menu is the best way to quickly plan your week of meals. If you like to only focus on just the week for meals, you’re in luck. It’s time to make meal planning ideas easy! These tips will help you slow down and plan your weekly cooking menu. (grab your free download below!)

Simplifying mealtime is vital to maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle amidst today’s fast-paced world. By streamlining the meal preparation process and making thoughtful choices, individuals can enjoy delicious and nutritious meals without undue stress.

Weekly meal planning is easy to do when you slow down and plan out just a few days at a time. Join me in the meal-planning process. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.

Why Use a What’s Cooking Menu Planner?

Menu planners are valuable tools that streamline the meal planning process by helping individuals organize their meals for the week or month in advance.

Some of the most significant advantages of meal planning are listed below:

Efficient Organization: Menu planners provide a structured way to map out meals, snacks, and recipes for a specified period, making it easier to stay organized and on track with dietary goals.

Time-Saving: By allocating time to plan meals using a menu planner, individuals can save time during the week as they already know what to prepare, shop for, and cook daily.

Variety and Balance: Menu planners enable users to incorporate variety into their meals and ensure a balanced diet by strategically selecting recipes that cover different food groups and nutritional requirements.

Cost-Effective: Planning meals in advance allows for better budgeting and prevents impulse purchases at the grocery store, ultimately reducing food waste and overall costs.

Healthier Choices: A menu planner allows individuals to make conscious decisions about their meals, leading to more nutritious food choices and portion control.

Reduced Stress: Having a meal plan eliminates the stress of figuring out what to cook each day, especially after a long day at work or when time is limited.

Family Involvement: Menu planners can involve family members in the meal planning, encouraging collaboration and ensuring everyone’s preferences are considered.

Adaptability: Menu planners can be adjusted based on individual preferences, dietary restrictions, seasonal produce, and special occasions, offering flexibility while maintaining structure.

By incorporating menu planners into their routine, individuals can simplify meal planning, enhance their culinary experience, and enjoy the benefits of organized, nutritious, and stress-free mealtimes.

Shop My Kitchen:

The following items can be found in my kitchen here at Miller Manor. Simply click the image that interests you – yes, they do contain affiliate links.

How to Use Your What’s Cooking Menu Planner

Use this Step-by-Step Guide to utilize the menu planner effectively. It’s simple to follow and even more straightforward to implement.

  1. Gather Supplies: Collect your printable menu planner, favorite recipes, and writing utensils.
  1. Review Schedule: Consider upcoming events, dietary needs, and preferences for the week ahead.
  2. Plan Meals: Allocate specific daily meals, considering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
  3. Balance Nutrients: Ensure meals include a variety of food groups for balanced nutrition.
  4. Create a Grocery List: Based on planned meals, list all ingredients needed for the week.
  5. Shop Smart: Head to the store with your list to purchase ingredients for the planned meals.
  6. Prep in Advance: Prepare ingredients or meals ahead of time to streamline weeknight cooking.
  7. Display Planner: Keep the menu planner visible for easy reference throughout the week.
  8. Monitor Progress: Check off meals as they are prepared and adjust plans as needed.
  9. Reflect and Adjust: At the end of the week, consider what worked well and what could be improved for future planning.



Tips for Involving Family Members in the Meal Planning Process

By following these steps and tips, individuals can effectively utilize a menu planner for weekly meals and involve family members in meal planning, fostering collaboration, creativity, and shared responsibility in creating enjoyable and nutritious meals.

  1. Hold a Family Meeting: Gather everyone to discuss meal preferences, dietary restrictions, and scheduling constraints.
  2. Assign Responsibilities: Delegate tasks like choosing recipes, grocery shopping, meal prep, and setting the table for different family members.
  3. Rotate Decision-Making: Allow different family members to select weekly meals, ensuring everyone’s preferences are considered.
  4. Get Creative: Encourage family members to suggest new recipes, theme nights, or fun meal ideas to keep meal planning exciting.
  5. Cook Together: Involve family members in meal preparation to promote shared experiences and teach valuable cooking skills.
  6. Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate successful meal planning weeks with a special meal or activity to reinforce positive habits.
  7. Feedback Session: Regularly gather feedback from family members on the meal planning process to make adjustments and improvements.

Customizing Your Menu Planner

You can customize your menu planner to fit the needs of your whole family. Here are some simple tips.

  1. Customizable Sections: Include sections for dietary restrictions (e.g., gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy-free) to tailor meal plans to individual needs easily.
  2. Ingredient Substitution Notes: Add space for notes on ingredient substitutions to accommodate allergies or preferences.
  3. Meal Categories: Divide the planner into sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, allowing for personalized meal planning throughout the day.
  4. Color-Coding: Use different colors for various food groups or meal types to differentiate meals at a glance visually.
  5. Recipe References: Include space for referencing specific recipes or sources for each planned meal to ensure easy access to instructions.
  6. Nutritional Information: Provide a section for tracking nutritional information or meal macros for those monitoring their intake.
  7. Seasonal Suggestions: Incorporate seasonal produce suggestions or meal ideas to align with fresh and local ingredients.

Suggestions for Making the Planner Fun to Use

Incorporating these personalized elements and visually appealing features into the What’s Cooking Menu Planner Printable allows users to create a tailored and enjoyable meal planning experience that caters to their dietary needs, preferences, and individual style, making the process both practical and enjoyable.

  1. Creative Themes: To make the planner visually engaging, design it with fun themes, such as kitchen utensils, food illustrations, or vibrant patterns.
  2. Motivational Quotes: Include inspirational quotes about cooking, health, or meal preparation to inspire users throughout the week.
  3. Interactive Elements: Add checkboxes, doodle spaces, or stickers for a hands-on and interactive planning experience.
  4. Visual Meal Icons: Use icons or symbols to represent different meal types (e.g., a fork for dinner and a cup for snacks) for quick identification.
  5. Whitespace: Ensure ample whitespace for ease of writing and readability, preventing the planner from feeling cluttered.
  6. Seasonal Graphics: Incorporate seasonal graphics or illustrations to add a touch of freshness and relevance to the planner.
  7. Personalization Options: Allow space for personal notes, meal ratings, or weekly goals to encourage users to make the planner their own.



Expanding the Use of the Menu Planner for Breakfast, Lunch, and Snacks

Remember to keep it simple when filling out breakfast, lunch, and snack recipe ideas! I’ve gathered some simple recipes you can use and add to give you an idea of how easy it can be!

Easy Breakfast Recipes

Tip: Plan for variety by rotating between breakfast options throughout the week.

Simple Lunch Recipes

Tip: Consider leftovers from dinner as an easy lunch option to reduce cooking time.

Easy Snack Recipes

Tip: Prepare snack packs or portion snacks in advance for easy grab-and-go options.

Strategies for Planning Meals around Busy Schedules and Special Events

You can efficiently manage your weekly meal plans, adapt to varying time constraints, and successfully navigate special occasions while maintaining a balanced and nutritious eating routine.

Batch Cooking

  • Dedicate a day for batch cooking to prepare meals in advance, especially for busier days during the week.
  • Freeze portions of soups, stews, or casseroles for quick and convenient meals.

Quick Meal Options:

  • Plan for simple meals like stir-fries, sheet pan dinners, or sandwiches for busy nights when time is limited.
  • Keep pantry staples on hand for last-minute meal ideas that require minimal preparation.

Flexibility in Planning:

  • Allow for flexibility in the menu planner by designating “flex” days for unplanned events or dining out.
  • Utilize leftover ingredients creatively in other meals to minimize food waste.

Meal Prep Containers:

  • Invest in meal prep containers to portion out meals in advance. This will make grabbing meals on the go easier during busy days.
  • Label containers with meal names and dates for easy identification and organization.

fullstar 50-piece Food storage Containers Set with Lids, Plastic Leak-Proof BPA-Free Containers for Kitchen Organization, Meal Prep, Lunch Containers (Includes Labels & Pen)Freshware Meal Prep Containers [21 Pack] 3 Compartment with Lids, Food Storage Containers, Bento Box, BPA Free, Stackable, Microwave/Dishwasher/Freezer Safe (24 oz)Bentgo® Prep 60-Piece Meal Prep Kit - 1, 2, & 3-Compartment Containers with Custom Fit Lids - Microwaveable, Durable, Reusable, BPA-Free, Freezer & Dishwasher Safe Storage Containers (Floral Pastels)Xigugo Overnight Oats Container with Lid and Spoon, Overnight Oats Jars, 16 oz Cereal, Milk, Vegetable and fruit Salad Storage Container with Measurement Marks(white and grey)


Special Event Planning:

  • Mark special events or occasions on the menu planner to plan celebratory meals or accommodate dietary preferences for guests.
  • Incorporate themed meals or recipes to align with the event, adding a festive touch to meal planning.

Family Involvement:

  • Delegate meal prep tasks to family members to share responsibilities and lighten the load during busy periods.
  • Communicate schedule changes or special events in advance to ensure meal planning aligns with everyone’s commitments.

Encouragement to Start Planning Meals

Take the first step towards organized meal planning by downloading the What’s Cooking Menu Planner Printable!

Celebrate small victories and milestones in your meal-planning journey to stay motivated and inspired. Your meal-planning success story could inspire others to start their planning journey and lead to positive changes in their routines.

Embrace the simplicity, organization, and health benefits of integrating the menu planner into your daily routine.

Shop My Printables

These printables are great for meal planning and organizing! Simply click the image to check out my shop products!

By incorporating the What’s Cooking Menu Planner Printable into your daily routine, you can experience the numerous benefits of organized meal planning, leading to healthier eating habits, reduced stress, and a more enjoyable dining experience.

Start planning today and share your meal planning journey and success stories with others to inspire and motivate fellow planners on their path to culinary organization and wellness.

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Monday 10th of February 2014

This is a great resource!

You ROCK for linking up this week to Tip Me Tuesday. {high fives}

Just a heads up, Tip Junkie can help you index your blog more effectively if you upload at least 2 images, 2 steps, and blog post URL into your Tip Junkie craft room!

Simply login and click "add a project" on your profile page to get started. {yep I've got your back!} ~ Laurie {a.k.a. the Tip Junkie} Link ~


Sunday 9th of February 2014

You always share the cutest meal planning printables!

Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!


Friday 7th of February 2014

Cute printable. I pinned it onto pinterest. Thanks for sharing.

Pary Moppins

Tuesday 13th of August 2013

I always love your menu plan printables! They are so cute. Thanks for linking up at Pin It Tuesday!