Meal planning for busy moms doesn’t have to be a challenge. With these tips, you can quickly and easily plan meals for your family, too.
Planning your family’s meals ahead of time is a good idea for so many reasons:
- It saves you precious time on hectic work and school days.
- It gives you a grocery shopping game plan.
- It helps you stay on budget by cutting back on pricey restaurant meals.
- It prevents impulsive and unhealthy decisions at the drive-thru.
However, satisfying everyone in the family at mealtime also poses challenges.
4 Challenges of meal planning for busy moms
Here’s how to tackle those hurdles and make family meal-planning work for you and your crew.
1. Food Preferences
Perhaps the most obvious obstacle to planning a meal for the whole family is that everyone likes (and dislikes) different things. Set yourself up for success by involving your picky eaters in the planning process.
Let each member of the family come up with suggestions for one or two meals per week, or come up with a few family-friendly meal choices and give everyone a chance to choose.
You may not be able to give everyone their favorite meal every day, but they’re more likely to be flexible when they know there’s something special to look forward to.
2. Different Goals
How do you plan a meal to satisfy people with differing dietary goals? Your family may include growing, active kids along with adults trying to lose weight or someone trying out the latest fad diet.
Keep it simple by sticking to tried-and-true rules for healthy eating. Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in each meal. Choose whole grains and complex carbohydrates, such as oats and quinoa, instead of white bread or pasta. Opt for lean meats and proteins that are low in saturated fats.
Most diets are made up of variations on these basic, healthy habits.
3. Dietary Restrictions
Picky preferences are one thing, but food allergies and medical restrictions are obviously critically important. Fortunately, there are things you can do to accommodate a family member who can’t eat a particular ingredient or group of foods, such as nuts, dairy, or shellfish.
Focus on simple recipes featuring high-quality ingredients, like roast organic chicken and vegetables. Alternatively, choose mix-and-match meals like stir-fries or entree salads that allow for easy substitutions.
Just be sure to label each portion clearly so the person with the dietary restriction gets the portion prepared especially for him or her.
4. Think About Prep
Give some forethought to the equipment each person has at their disposal when mealtime comes around. If you have a microwave at work, but your kids don’t have access to one at school, plan lunches that are tasty at room temperature, like sandwiches.
With a slow-cooker or InstantPot, you can throw all your ingredients together in the morning and come home to a warm, comforting one-pot dinner at the end of the day. And remember, when it comes to meal-planning, the freezer is your best friend. Make more than you need and freeze the leftovers for use in a future meal.
Keep in mind that meal-planning shouldn’t fall on one person’s shoulders — it’s a family affair. Give everyone a role, whether it’s helping create the plan, doing the grocery shopping, helping with the cooking, or pitching in on cleanup. Everyone deserves to learn that one of the best things about a home-cooked meal is the satisfaction of knowing you helped create it.