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Charlotte Stirling-Reed’s tips for family-friendly meal planning

by Charlotte Stirling-Reed

published on 20 July 2023

If you feel your organisational skills are up to it, menu planning can be such a help. Menu planning can help you prepare, balance your meals for your family, reduce food waste, eat more varied meals, experiment more, have more fun with ingredients, take everyone’s tastes into account… and so much more. In fact, while writing this book, I started to do a lot more menu planning and it really saved us time and money, so it’s well worth a go. Here are some of my tips on making it work:

From the book

Charlotte Stirling-Reed

Ebook deal this week

How to Feed Your Family


Available to download for 99p for a limited time. UK customers only.

  • Have a blank, glass A4 photo frame in the kitchen and write out your meals for the week on it using a washable marker (you can also use apps on your phone too if you’re more technically savvy!).
  • Get everyone in the family on board and get them to vote for their favourite meals to go on the menu each week. Have recipes/meal ideas written up on cards so you have inspiration at your fingertips when putting the menu plan together. Keep the cards all together in your kitchen so you have a constant supply of inspiration.
  • Before you start the meal plan, take a look at what’s in the fridge and freezer so you can first use up things you already have.
  • Have theme nights once a week or once a month to help you experiment with new recipes. These can include Mexican nights, soup nights or ‘leftover’ nights.
  • Regularly add your family’s favourite meals into the meal plans so that everyone gets a turn eating something they love!
  • Double up recipes you’re cooking regularly and freeze them for busier days in the week – add these frozen meals to your menu plan so you don’t forget about them. Remember to label them with the date made and what it is.
  • Once a week or month (family situation dependent) have a ‘freezer meal’ where you use a ready meal or a frozen meal you’ve made before to save you time. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight and heat thoroughly before you eat!

Baked Banana Bars

by Charlotte Stirling-Reed
  • Don’t be afraid of subbing ingredients when your plan doesn’t quite work. Nothing works out exactly how we want it to, and it’s very easy to swap different veggies, carbs or flavours into meals.
  • Have some ‘emergency’ options at your disposal if and when you need them. Store-cupboard staples are always a winner in my house: pasta and sauce, beans on toast, frozen veg with couscous or good old porridge can always work for those emergency meals.
  • The meal planner below is a great example of a balanced mealplan and how to prep meals. For more on this and blank templates, visit to download your own.

Find all these recipes and more in How to Feed Your Family, out now.

Buy the book

Charlotte Stirling-Reed

Ebook deal this week

How to Feed Your Family


Available to download for 99p for a limited time. UK customers only.


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