Meal planning for busy moms doesn’t have to be this big extravagant event or even an overwhelming event. After reading this, you will easily be able to make a meal plan that fits your family.
Why do I need to meal plan?
Meal planning for busy moms is great because it saves you time. Time you don’t have because you are running a busy household. At first, it might seem like it’s not saving you time. That’s because you haven’t found your rhythm yet. Don’t worry, you’ll get it.
This will also save time at night. You won’t be standing in front of the freezer for 10 minutes trying to figure out what to make.
Hopefully you won’t be meal planning McDonald’s every night so you will be making meals at home instead. That will save you money right there.
You will also be planning with what you have on hand before adding in new things so your grocery bill should go down.
What is stopping you from getting dinner on the table?
Before you even start attempting to tackle this meal planning thing, you need to address the problems that are keeping you from eating together as a family every night.
You are a busy mom running a busy family. That means you need to come up with a plan on how to attack that busyness.
If one kid has football practice on Thursday at 5:30, then you need to work around that. Your dinner needs to be cooked and ready to eat at either 5:00 or 6:30. Or whatever time they will be in the house.
Maybe you are overwhelmed with cooking. If that is the case, just know that meal planning for busy moms doesn’t mean fancy meals on the table every night. It means figuring out what your family going to eat so that you aren’t scrambling every night when you are already tired from the day. Planning McDonald’s one night and frozen chicken nuggets the next night still counts as meal planning.
Meal Planning for Busy Moms
Let’s get down to meal planning for busy moms. Now that you know what is stopping you from getting dinner on the table, we can work through these difficult times. Let’s start with what I like to do first.
Print out a calendar for the month or for the week. However long you are meal planning for.
I have made you a free meal planning for the week calendar for you to just print off and start writing.If you want to plan a month’s worth, just print off 4 of them. Go ahead and get it here:
If you don’t feel like printing out a calendar, grabbing a piece of plain paper and writing the days of the week works just as well. Or just pull up your notes app and type the days of the week.
After that, pull up your google calendar (or whatever calendar you use to keep track of what is going on). Notice what you have going on that week. If you have really busy nights that you know you will have zero time to cook on, write ‘CP’ for CrockPot on that day of your menu plan. That tells you that you will need a crockpot meal that day. You could also write ‘F’ for Freezer Meal if you have freezer meals. Those tend to take awhile to cook though and you might not have time for that.
Once you have that done, you can fill in the rest of your days with how you chose. This is where I like to involve my kids. I will ask them what they would like to eat and let them be apart of meal planning.
Do you want a huge meal this weekend because you have nothing going on that day? Maybe BBQ ribs sound good? Great! Write it down.
Do you know you only have 10 minutes on Tuesday? Okay, scrambled eggs and toast it is!
Shop your pantry before shopping the store. This will save you so much money. Take your meal planning calendar and go look and see what you have. What meats can you use that week? Do you have an old roast sitting in your freezer that should be used up? Perhaps you have an excessive amount of porkchops in your freezer like me? Use those babies up!
Are you into themes for your week? This is not something that I personally do, but I know so many people that do this. Here are some themes you might use:
- Meatless Monday
- Taco Tuesday
- Breakfast for Dinner
- Snacky Food
Wait a minute! I lied to you! We do have one theme night. I’m going to share with you a secret that is one of my biggest tips for successful mothering.
Are you ready?
Ice Cream Night
That’s right. One night a week, we have ice cream for dinner. Huge, giant bowls filled to the top with ice cream and sprinkles and chocolate syrup and caramel syrup.
Ice cream night started out on Fridays for us. We would all sit down on the couch and watch a movie with our ice cream. That no longer serves us anymore though.
Now, Sunday nights are our ice cream nights. They are no longer on the couch with a movie either. Back to the table we went.
Where to Get Meal Ideas
Meal planning is fun for me. It might not be for you though. Perhaps you want things super simple. You might just go to Pinterest and look on your food boards. Maybe you are excessive like me and have 10 cookbooks spread out around you.
Whatever you choose, don’t let this overwhelm you. Your meals don’t have to be a great thing every night. You can totally write down kraft mac and cheese with hotdogs if you want. Remember, this is to make your life easier, not harder.
Only once a week, maybe even once every two weeks, am I doing some extravagant meal that takes me more that 20 minutes of hands on time to prepare. My meals do usually take longer to cook, but thats hands off time for me. Remember, this is meal planning for busy moms. Not moms who have all day to spend in the kitchen.
Meal Planning Lunch
This is something in our house that is really not planned in the way you think of planning. I don’t write down what we eat for lunch everyday. Here’s what we do:
That’s right. Almost everyday the kids eat leftovers for lunch and I eat a huge bowl of salad. Unless I really liked the leftovers.
If there is no leftovers, it’s sandwiches. Peanut butter and Jelly turns healthy when you use homemade bread, peanut butter that is made with only peanuts and salt, and home canned jam!
Meal Planning Breakfast
If you are brand new to meal planning and cooking meals for your family, I want you to do something for me. Chill out. We don’t want to overwhelm you.
Your breakfasts are going to be cereal for the week or even the month. And that is okay.
Once you have a rhythm going of meal planning and sticking through with cooking dinner for your family, then you can add in breakfast. Until then though, don’t add anymore.
Breakfast is usually themed in my house.
- Muffin Monday
- French Toast Tuesday or cereal
- Waffle Wednesday
- Pancakes Thursday or cereal
- Doughnuts Friday
- 1898 Omelet Saturday
Tips for Success
Use similar ingredients for the week. For example, if you are going to have to brown up a pound of ground beef, you might as well do two pounds at once. You can also freeze already browned ground beef in a freezer bag and pull it out later for a quick spaghetti or something.
Double your batch. This is kind of like the above tip. However, if you are making a casserole, just make two. If you are making muffins, make 24 instead of 12. Freeze half of them and pull them out for breakfast or snack next week.
Think about tomorrow’s dinner tonight. This takes a bit of practice, so set an alarm on your phone until it’s habitual. Do you need to pull out any meat for tomorrow? Do you need to feed your sourdough starter? Get that done now while you are already in the kitchen.
Have easy back up meals on hand. Sometimes we burn dinner so bad that it is not edible. What is your back up. For us, I usually have soup in a freezer bag that I can pull out and run under warm water to defrost semi-quick and then just warm up on the stove. If not, cereal is our back up.
Master list of dinners. This will be an ongoing project. If the majority of your family likes something you cooked, print out the recipe and throw it in a binder. Save it to your Pinterest. Whatever you want to do. Get that added to your master list. Eventually when you go to meal plan, you can pull from that.
Weekly Meal Planning For Busy Moms Example
This is what a typical week looks like for our family of 7. Looking at this all written out makes it seem a lot more than it actually is. The most difficult meal of this week would be BBQ ribs, pancakes, and 1898 Omelet. All the rest take me about 20 minutes of hands on time of work. All the food underlined has recipes available on my website. Instead of putting ice cream for Sunday, I added a real food meal for you just so you have another idea.
How do stay at home moms plan meals?
The beauty of this post is that it works for stay at home moms and work outside of the home moms. I’m a stay at home mom so my meals will probably look different than someone who doesn’t get home until 6:00pm. I like meals that simmer for awhile. I like low and slow meals. So we eat alot of crockpot foods. Sometimes those get started after lunch. Use the fact that you are home all day to make recipes that other moms don’t get the opportunity to!
How can a busy mom eat healthy?
Proactive. That’s all it comes down too. You HAVE to be prepared. You HAVE to have a battle plan. Meal planning for busy moms.
My lunch is always a salad. It takes me maybe 3 minutes at the most to prepare right before I eat it. You can always pre-make your lunch before you go to work in the morning, before you go to bed at night, or even at the beginning of the week in a big batch of lunches for the week. Mason jar salads were all the rage a few years ago but they still work great!
If you are making healthy dinners, make enough for you to have leftovers.
How do I make a 2 week meal plan?
That would be the same way you make a 1-week plan or a monthly plan. Look at your calendar and see what you have going on. Shop what you already have. Fill in the rest with whatever you want to cook and eat!
Do you have a meal plan available?
I am currently in the process of making a 4 week meal plan for families! This will include 4 weeks of dinners, along with grocery lists and recipes! If this is something that would help you get a jump start on meal planning, get on the waitlist here and I will email you when it is ready!