Sharing some tips for easy meal planning for the busy moms out there + a template you can use.
Hi friends! How’s the day going so far? I hope you’re having a good morning! I’m getting things ready for Fit Team (join us here and get your new workouts on the 28th!) and have a podcast interview later today. Thank you so much for letting me know that you enjoy the old school more conversational type blog posts. I will definitely add them more frequently into the content rotation.
For today post, I wanted to chat a bit about meal planning because it is SAVIN.OUR.BACON right now. (Time-wise and money-wise!) We are in the thick of evening activities and events, and if I don’t know what we’re going to eat, it leads to random hodge lodge meals or takeout. It’s absolutely worth sitting down each week to plan our meals (at least our dinners) and making a list for one big grocery stop.
Taking some time to meal plan each week takes the guesswork and last-minute dinner stress out of the equation, and is a great way to save time, money and effort. Planning, preparing, and cooking healthy meals takes time, and meal planning in advance can help us make healthy meals for the family on a more consistent basis. It also maximizes trips to the grocery story and makes mom life a bit easier overall! I figured it was time I dedicated a post on practical meal planning for my busy mom friends out there.
Easy Meal Planning For Busy Moms
Setting aside time to make a weekly meal plan
Set aside 30 minutes or so each weekend to create your plan for the week. For us, dinners are the most important, but I also have an idea of what I’m going to pack in the girls’ lunches and make for breakfasts. Plan out as many meals as you’d like for the week, emphasizing dinner and weekly staples.
Create a master list
After you’ve planned out your meals, make a master grocery list including all of the ingredients. Take inventory of your pantry and fridge to avoid buying duplicates, unless you like having backups on hand.
Keep track of meals that work
If you find a meal that’s a home run for the family, hold it in your heart FOREVER. Until you make it again and they don’t like it the next time? (Kids can be a mystery sometimes, I tell ya.) I keep a running cheatsheet in my phone of meals the kids have really loved and will come back to them. We also have some staple dishes (like the ones in this post) that I know will always be a hit.
Asking help from family members
I like to ask the kids if there’s anything they’d like to have the following week and use their suggestions when I craft my list. I’ll also put a few cookbooks on the table for them to choose recipes that look good to them. Sometimes they surprise me with their selections and I love that helps to shake things up and prevent dinner ruts.
Create meal plans from items you have on hand
Before I start our meal plan for the week, I’ll think about any items I have on hand that I’d like to use. For example, we might have meat from ButcherBox or veggies from the garden that I want to use. I’ll search for recipes from my fave sources using these ingredients.
Creating themes on some days
This is huge if you have a schedule with extra-curricular and after-school activities that end up being around dinnertime. On soccer nights, I’ll specifically plan Instant Pot or slow cooker meals that can be ready quickly or already waiting for us. If we’re going to be home later that evening, I’ll choose meals that I can prep earlier in the day.
I’m a huge fan of making anything in bulk or doubling recipes, so we’re able to freeze or use leftovers later. I prefer to cook certain things only once per week, so if I know we’re having rice two times, I’ll make a large batch and save half of it. I’m also a huge fan of eating dinner leftovers for breakfast or lunch the following day, so it makes planning my lunches a little easier.
Order staples and faves online
This really streamlines the meal planning process for us, because usually I have meat and pantry essentials on hand. I order almost all of our meat from ButcherBox and I get most of our pantry staples from Thrive Market. (<— both of those links get you a discount if you decide to try it out! Thrive is 40% off your first order and ButcherBox is currently 30% off + free chicken for a year.)
This way, I only have to get fresh ingredients at the store, eggs, and dairy. Because Thrive Market and ButcherBox are significantly less expensive than grocery stores’ current prices, we save a lot of money by doing it this way. I also like shopping at Costco for any of our favorite brands they carry (like Rao’s pasta sauce, salad kids, organic veggies and berries, salsa, avocado oil, syrup, and almond butter).
Prep protein or anything you can in advance
I like to wash fresh fruit and veggies, chop anything I can for dinners and easy snacking, and prep a couple of protein staples. I’ll usually boil eggs and smoke chicken for the week. Anything you can do you set yourself up for advance: do it. I also like to mention that if you’re able to splurge on more convenience items that will make your life easier (like chicken that is already cooked and cut into pieces), do what you need to do to set yourself up for success.
Use a meal planning template
This helps a ton if you’re going to plan out meals for the week! Simply print, add in your meals, and write out your grocery list on the opposite side.
Free Weekly Meal Plan For Busy Moms
Here is a free weekly template I created for meal planning. If you need more help, enter your email address here and I’ll send you a free copy of meal prep blueprint! It has my exact strategy for meal planning, along with some new recipes.
Here’s a sample week of eats if you’re looking for ideas!
This is what we’re having this week:
Sunday: Steak, roasted asparagus, salad kit, homemade sourdough
Monday: Chili with gluten-free cornbread and salad
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday (out!)
Wednesday: Garlic-lime chicken thighs with sweet potatoes and zucchini
Thursday: Greek bowls (rice, chicken, grape leaves, hummus, tzatziki sauce, cucumbers, and olives)
Saturday: Hodge podge (mix of leftovers and/or breakfast for dinner)
So, tell me, friends: do you plan your meals in advance? What’s on the menu this week?
Our go-to easy weeknight dinners
5 days of daytime eats in 1 hour