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Bright Ideas · Food & Recipes · This One Task Will Simplify Dinnertime And Make Your Life Easier
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This One Task Will Simplify Dinnertime And Make Your Life Easier

I used to feel like I was caught in an endless loop of deciding what to make for dinner, but this simple solution has made dinnertime a breeze!

Whether you’re the only one in charge of keeping everyone in the house fed or you share that responsibility with someone else, it’s a lot of work! From budgeting to grocery shopping to cooking, every step takes time, effort, and planning, and the work never ends!

But the good news is that it is indeed possible to keep your family well-fed without losing your mind in the process. 😉 And I hope to prove it in today’s post, where I’ll be sharing a simple system you can start using today to save yourself time and take the guesswork out of planning meals!

How To Use Weekly Meal Plan Templates To Simplify Dinnertime

This system involves creating your own weekly meal plan templates, which is sort of like having a plan for your meal plan. Instead of looking at the week ahead and deciding arbitrarily what to cook each night, your meal plan template will have a set “category” for each day so that you aren’t always starting your plan from scratch.

But sticking to the same plan each week can start to feel repetitive, I recommend having two separate templates so you can rotate between them to keep things interesting. I’ve included two of my own meal plan templates below so you can see how it’s done.

Feel free to borrow my templates as-is or use them as inspiration for own templates. And to make it even easier for you to get started, I made a free Weekly Meal Ideas printable for you, which you can download near the bottom of this post. 🙂

Weekly Meal Plan Template – Example #1

Meatless Monday

Skipping meat once a week is great for your wallet and the planet! Try a vegetarian option like my quick and easy meatless lasagna!

Dump Dinner Tuesday

Nothing says effortless like a “dump dinner!” These are meals you assemble and freeze in advance so you you can just dump them into a slow cooker or your Instant Pot when you’re ready to cook them.

Check out these three “dump chicken” recipes, then check out this post for 5 more make-ahead-and-freeze meals.

Rotisserie Chicken Wednesday

Did you know that there are over 20 ways to use a rotisserie chicken? From chicken salad to taco soup, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Family Dinner Thursday

Thursday dinners are one of my favorite family traditions! I usually stick with crowd-pleasers like Instant Pot pot roast or meatloaf served with mashed potatoes.

Grilling Friday

Another thing the Nystul family loves is grilling! Even during the winter I’ll make things like spare ribs in the Instant Pot or tri-tip in the oven. But during the warmer months, I’m all about that “straight off the grill” flavor!

“Surprise Me” Saturday

Saturdays are for surprises! This could include getting take-out from your favorite restaurant, trying a new local spot, or clearing out the fridge and creating something new out of whatever leftovers you had on hand!

Soup/Salad Sunday

Sundays are for rest, so I like to keep things simple with soup or salad (or soup and salad!) Use up leftover veggies by stirring them into some spring mix or toss together this tasty spinach salad. For something a little more hearty, make a big batch of my Instant Pot chili.

Weekly Meal Plan Template – Example #2

Mexican Monday

From ultra-authentic to Tex-Mex and beyond, we love all kinds of Mexican food in this family. There are endless ways to combine Mexican staples like tortillas, beans, rice, etc., so Mexican Monday can always look (and taste) a little different! Try these honey-lime chicken enchiladas one week, then baked tacos the next, and so on.

Breakfast For Dinner Tuesday

Breakfast for dinner (or “B for D” as some like to call it) is super easy to execute and it’s a fun way to mix things up. Keep it simple with scrambled eggs and bacon, or get your protein fix with this breakfast casserole. And since we’re already breaking rules, why not have pancakes or cinnamon rolls for dessert? 😉

Pizza Wednesday

Dinner on Wednesdays is all about pizza. Whether we order delivery from our favorite pizza joint or we break out my stovetop pizza oven, it’s sure to be a hit with the whole family. (Those with Celiac and those looking to cut back on carbs can always load their tomato sauce and toppings onto a tasty cauliflower pizza crust.)

Casserole Thursday

Casseroles are super easy to assemble ahead of time so you can just toss them in a pre-heated oven when it’s time to eat. Our favorite chicken casserole is always an option, though I’m not opposed to spicing things up a bit with a chicken enchilada casserole.

Pasta Friday

Pasta lovers rejoice! Try spooning crockpot ranch chicken over noodles, or jazz up a jar of pasta sauce. Looking to add more veggies into the mix? Try this delicious chilled pasta salad.

Sandwich Saturday

Sandwich Saturday represents an endless sea of possibilities. Pile up the cold cuts, cheese, veggies, and spreads, or break out your griddle to whip up some gourmet grilled cheeses.

Leftovers Sunday

Clean out the fridge and eliminate food waste by eating whatever you didn’t finish during the week! You may even be able to get creative by combining different ingredients—taco pizza, anyone? 🙂

More Ideas For Meal Plan Templates

You can build the perfect templates for you and your family using your favorite kinds of food, your preferred cooking methods, certain types of dishes, or anything else that comes to mind! Here are some more ideas you might consider using somewhere in your templates:

  • Ethnic Foods
    • Chinese
    • Indian
    • Mediterranean
    • Italian
    • Mexican
  • Dish Types
    • Casseroles
    • Sandwiches
    • Soup/Stew
    • Stir Fry
  • Meats
    • Chicken
    • Beef
    • Pork
    • Seafood
  • Dietary Restrictions
    • Vegetarian
    • Vegan
    • Gluten Free
    • Raw
  • Cooking Method
    • Grill
    • Smoker
    • Instant Pot
    • Slow Cooker
  • Bonus & Miscellaneous
    • Leftovers
    • Dine Out
    • Order In
    • Try A New Recipe

Download My Weekly Meal Ideas Printable

Download the printable below and use it to put together your own meal planning templates. Once you’ve filled it out, hang it on your fridge or inside a cabinet door so you’ll always have close at hand to make the dreaded “dinner decision” easier!

Do you have a favorite method or approach for planning meals?


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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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