Does your meal planning start at 5pm when you walk out of the office? Is it followed by a trip to the grocery store? Cooking dinner after a long day of work may be the last thing on your mind. This post tells you everything you need to make an easy plan to get your family fed.
This is Day 1 of our 31 Things Every Working Mom Needs series. To read all the posts in order, visit the introduction post to see the outline for the whole series.
The first thing you need is a meal plan. Wait. What is that? Why do I need one?
Why You Need a Meal Plan (Even If You Think You Don’t)
A meal plan is your roadmap to getting your family fed during the week ahead. You need one, even if you think you don’t.
If you just plan dinners, when it’s time for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, you will run out of things before you go the grocery store again.
Take a few hours every Sunday to plan for a whole week’s meals. This will save you plenty of money, stress, and time all week long. Be sure to include specifics and make sure that all your healthy recipes’ ingredients are in place or within reach during meal prep.
How to Make a Weekly Meal Plan
I typically have most of the makings for dinners on-hand, at all times. Write down what you would like to serve / need to cover each meal. Check the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards for what you already have. Make a list of what’s left to buy.
TIP: If you buy the same things, repeatedly, for breakfast and lunch, stock up when they’re on sale.
Improve Your Meal Planning in Just 10 Minutes
1. Let Your Kids Create the Menu
I regularly ask my kids what they want for dinner. I usually hear chicken, spaghetti, and sloppy joes. With a little prodding, I can usually get 10 ideas out of them. If I add a few easy favorites, I can easily come up with 25-30 ideas, leaving us room for a few sandwich nights or eating out.
Read: Quick & Easy Cookbooks
2. Let Your Husband Create the Menu
My husband is a so-not-a-vegetarian-but-rather-meat-eating-sort-of-guy. I think of 5-10 of his favorites and add some kid-friendly picks, I have a month’s worth of meals.
3. Rotate on a 30 Day Schedule
Whether you realize it or not, you probably eat the same thing. Pick about 10-15 meals your family enjoys (and you regularly have supplies for). If you have that meal 2-3 times on a repeating cycle, you’ve filled up the month.
If you are a busy mom looking for an easy way to create a meal plan, check out my review of this book:
Still not convinced? Here is what one of my readers shared: “Planning ahead is critical! I’m a big fan of homemade freezer meals to pull out in emergencies. I also have a few recipes that I try to always stock my pantry and freezer with the ingredients for so that I have additional fallbacks for busy nights. And you’re so right. Kids prefer simple meals so there’s no need to knock yourself out trying to get a gourmet meal on the table every night!”
Read other posts in the 31 Things Every Working Mom Needs series.
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