Family Meal Planning

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You’d love to be able to do family meal planning, but how in the world do you balance all the different food preferences of family members? As the mom of three, I know the frustration and the difficulty of finding meals that will make everyone in your family happy. These two free printables and my simple tips will make it possible for your family to create a family meal plan that will work.

a family sitting around a table together eating a meal, text reading Family Meal Planning, meal planning printables

I sat down at meals for years where at least one person in my family was unhappy with the meal. My family is smart enough not to complain, but a mom knows when “Oh.” really means “Wah! I can’t stand that meal!”

You’ve taken the time to meal plan, to cook and create a nutritious meal for your family. Your goal is not for everyone or even just one family member to be unhappy with the meal. You would like for everyone to at least be satisfied, and happy would be great.

But when everyone has different food preferences, how do you make family meal planning work?
Let me show you how I make it work for my family.

How Do I Meal Plan for a Month?

I prefer to meal plan a month at a time because it’s much more efficient. It doesn’t take that much longer to family meal plan for a month versus a week and yet it saves you so much time and money.

  • Gather meal preferences for each one of your family members.
    • Use the free Meal Preference form below.
  • Talk with your family members so that they understand how you are balancing everyone’s meal preferences in addition to providing a nutritional balance within a budget
    • Use the free Family Meal Plan Venn diagram to illustrate the meal preference balancing act you deal with every month.
  • Set a monthly budget for food purchases.
  • Check your pantry, refrigerator and freezer for meal staples that you need to use before they expire.
  • Use a Monthly Meal Planner template to create a meal plan for the entire month.
  • Once you create three or more meal plan, you can cycle through your monthly meal plans over and over again.
    • This saves you so much time since you don’t have to create an entirely new meal plan every month.
  • Read more detailed Monthly Meal Planner tips and how I meal plan.
a family sitting around a table eating a meal together

Family Meal Planning

When a family member complains about the meals on your meal plan, she isn’t thinking about all the work you’ve done to create a nutritious and balanced menu plan that fits in your budget and your busy life. Your family member is only thinking about the foods she likes and doesn’t like.

Multiply those complaints and food preferences by the number of people you have in your family and you, the family meal planner, have a big ol’ headache.

Don’t give up on family meal planning entirely, it’s time to have a family meeting and educate the family on the meal planning process.

I have used this meal planning process with my own family of five over the years. My friend, J., provided me with the brilliant visual aid of using a Venn diagram to help your family really understand.

She used it with her family of four, three of which had very particular and unique food preferences. Using the Venn diagram to show them how each of their preferences relate to the other family members’ preferences created a break through for her family.

Family Meal Planning Printable

family meal planning printable with title text reading Finding Meals Everyone In Your Family Likes

Download the free Family Meal Preferences pdf.

How to Download

  • Click on the link above.
  • Right click on the pdf when it opens.
  • Save the pdf to your computer.
  • You can then print the forms out as often as you’d like.

How to Use the Family Meal Planning Printables

Use the Venn diagram example above to help your family members understand how difficult it is to find meals that every family member likes.

You can brainstorm meal examples and walk family members through who likes each meal and who doesn’t. You can actually write in examples of meals for each different family member to personalize the meal planning dilemma you face.

Your goal is for your family to understand that you have to create meals that are nutritious, fit in your budget and make as many people happy as possible, which may not mean that everyone is always happy.

Explain that you do your best to make sure everyone has meals they enjoy on the meal plan and that no one has too many meals that they don’t like in a row.

Family Meal Preferences Form

Once the light bulbs start going off for your family, use the second page of the pdf to gain their assistance in family meal planning. Have each family member give you their favorite and not-favorite recipes for each category of recipes that you commonly make.

The point of gathering both like and don’t like meal choices is not that you will never make the don’t like choice, but so that you can balance your family meal planning by spreading out each family member’s don’t like choices and not serving them one after another.

Meal Preferences printable

I found that having this information for family meal planning allowed me to purposefully reduce the number of don’t like meals and sandwich them between like meals during the week. It didn’t guarantee that everyone was happy all the time, but it did reduce the number of times that any one family member was miserable at mealtime.

When a family member had their favorite meal yesterday, they are more tolerable of a don’t like meal choice today. Or if you can let them know that they may not like today’s choice, but tomorrow is one of their favorite meals, it helps reduce the complaints.

If you have a larger family, you should start with getting just one favorite and one not-favorite from each family member for each category. Once you create meal plans incorporating those choices, you can then do a second round of gathering meal preferences, if you’d like, to increase the planning information you have.

You should gather updated meal likes and dislikes every other year or so to accommodate changes in food preferences.

More Family Meal Planning Resources

Be sure to pin for later when you want to do your own family meal planning.

Find all my best Kitchen organizing ideas, printables and favorite products in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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