10 Healthy Meal Planning Tips For Families (+ FREE Template!)
Written by: Liz Brown - Mar. 22, 2021
Healthy meal planning in and of itself can be difficult. There’s a lot of organizing and research that goes into a success week of meal prep. But, when you’re trying to eat healthy as a family, the task can feel nearly impossible. You now have the added element of multiple appetites, dietary needs or restrictions, not to mention picky eaters! Family meal planning is a whole new ball game. And while healthy meal planning for your family might feel like a losing battle, it’s not impossible to win. Here are some of my top healthy meal planning tips for families and a helpful meal planning template to get you started.
Healthy Meal Planning Tips
1. Know your family’s favorite foods and meals
Feeding your family can sometimes feel like an ongoing battle, especially if you have picky eaters on your hands. My advice is to take note of the meals that everyone loves and make it a part of your family meal planning each week. Trust me when I say that it will not only save you time on planning, but will also help you skip the headache of having to deal with any hissy fits that happen at dinner time.
2. Discover new recipes to try
If you ever feel like family meal planning is causing you too much grief, it’s probably time to change up your menu. Keeping things interesting in your home kitchen by incorporating new recipes is a great way to build the excitement for dinner time and to try new things. Some of my favorite ways to explore new recipes is to follow food bloggers and influencers on social media, and browse new recipes on Pinterest. Oh, and I can’t forget about Super Youth’s catalog of delicious and healthy recipes!
3. Save recipes online or print them out
Having a catalog of healthy recipes on hand is so important for family meal planning. As you continue to try out new things and get a better idea of everyone’s preferences, you’ll need a place to save and organize them to refer back to. I recommend setting up a free account on Pinterest if you don’t already have one to save recipes online, or get a binder or folder to store recipes you print out.
4. Get a weekly calendar
I’m one of those people who loves planning ahead, so using a calendar to create a meal planning template and a place to jot down my meal schedule for the week is a no brainer. But if you’re reading this right now, you likely struggle in this department. But don’t worry… Something that’s helped me tremendously in this department is displaying a calendar somewhere in the kitchen that can be seen by the whole family. At the end of this blog there is a free meal planning template for you to print off and display on your fridge or in your kitchen!
5. Make a weekly shopping list
The second phase of healthy meal planning, after the planning part, of course, is making sure you have everything you need for your weekly menu. Create a shopping list for everything you’ll need for the week and continue to add to it as needed. Depending on your preference, you can keep a digital version in the notes section of your cell phone, or you can do it the old school way and keep a notepad in your kitchen. (Psst, the free download has a section for this, too!) Either way, don’t head to the grocery store without it. But only stick to what’s on the list! This is super important! Keeping a grocery list while you’re shopping will not only save you a ton of time at the store, but will also help you avoid buying unnecessary or unhealthy items.
6. Plan for leftovers
Leftovers are quite possibly my favorite thing when it comes to meal planning. Why? Because when you plan ahead and anticipate leftovers, you’ve just saved yourself a ton of time wondering what to eat for lunch the next day. Not to mention the time it takes to make a whole separate meal! Be sure to plan for a few extra servings for each meal so you have enough for leftovers.
7. Clean and prep in advance
If time seems to get away from you during the week, try washing and chopping all of your produce for the week right after you return from the store. You can prep things like bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, herbs, and other vegetables to cut down on your cooking time. You can also cook a few chicken breasts and keep them in a container for quick meals or healthy snacks.
8. Keep your pantry stocked with essentials
Something I always try to do is keep my pantry and refrigerator stocked with cooking essentials that are commonly used in a variety of recipes. Getting into the habit of refilling them when they get low will help keep your trips to the market quick and will help cut down on humongous grocery lists. It’s also a great way to incorporate more fresh foods into your diet.
Here are some of the most versatile pantry staples for healthy meal planning and healthy cooking:
- Citrus fruits (like lemons and limes)
- Fresh herbs
- Milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- Canned tomato products
- Fresh cheese
- Stocks and broths
- Grains, noodles, & starchy vegetables (rice, pasta, potatoes, etc.)
- Baking essentials (flour, butter, sugar, eggs, cocoa powder)
- Veggies (onions, mushrooms, garlic, bell peppers, green vegetables)
- Cooking oils (olive oil, vinegars, etc.)
9. Plan your trip to the grocery store in advance
In this day in age, going to the grocery store has become more time consuming than ever. Waiting in a long line just to get into the store, the one-way isles causing traffic jams at every turn, fighting over the last roll of toilet paper, the socially distanced lines at checkout, and don’t even get me started on the frustration of forgetting your mask and having to drive back home again. Going to the grocery store just isn’t the same. I’ve recently started ordering my groceries online and getting them delivered to my house, or having them ready for pick up. This also makes it easy to repurchase items in the future because it saves everything you’ve previously added into your card to make shopping a breeze! I can’t even begin to tell you how much more pleasant this experience has been for me. So, if time is of the essence and going to the grocery store feels like a chore for you, I recommend giving this a try!
10. Keep protein-rich supplements on hand
Protein is known for its ability to keep your body feeling full and satiated between meals. A diet that is rich in protein has been shown to help with weight loss, muscle development, and fat burning.  I recommend keeping protein-rich foods and supplements, like collagen peptide powder, on hand to curb your appetite in between meal time. Super Youth collagen is one of the best collagen powders on the market because it contains the five types of hydrolyzed collagen peptides necessary to increase longevity, improve your gut health, support your muscles and joints, and even helps with weight loss!
Meal Planning Template
Download and print this healthy meal planning template completely FREE and start your family healthy journey off right.