Meal planning is one task that can make or break your week. As a homemaker, meal planning can save you a whole lot of stress come dinner time. Today I’m sharing some of my best tips to help with meal planning for busy moms.
Meal planning for busy moms doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming! Here are some of my favorite tips to help you make a doable plan.
Over time it will get easier and easier with just a little work upfront! Once you’ve done that, weekly meal planning will be a breeze and allow you to focus on what matters most: nourishing your family with food and fellowship—part of the ministry of homemaking as I like to call it.
Remember, part of your homemaking ministry is to make sure your family is well nourished. Just like the Proverbs 31 woman who, “provides food for her household,” making sure your family has food they enjoy eating as well as food that nourishes their bodies is important!
I remember as a young mom feeling panicked when I realized it was almost dinner time and I had no idea what I was making! I eventually realized that meal planning was a huge time saver – and sanity saver for me!
I’ve been meal planning for many years now. Just this week my youngest daughter asked me how I always come up with meals for us to eat day after day – and I told her I’ve been doing it for almost 30 years now and it’s not that hard any more.
But when I was a young mom, it took a lot of brain power sometimes to come up with enough means and snacks to last the whole week!! But when I finally started planning ahead – that’s when it started getting easier.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be hard. So, let’s talk about how meal planning can help busy moms!
Meal Planning for Busy Moms: Getting Prepared
Prepare means make ready or equip in advance for a particular purpose or for some use, event, etc.
Let’s think about that definition when it comes to meal planning. You want to be ready to sit down each week and plan out your meals. You want to be equipped to cook and serve nutritious food for your family. You want to have a bigger purpose than simply giving them something to eat—each meal feeding their bodies and their hearts, true soul food.
But how can you do this without feeling overwhelmed? By taking the time to set yourself up for success.
1. Create a Busy Mom Meal Planning Binder
As a busy homemaker, it’s important to have “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Cliché? Maybe. Wise? Definitely!
Organize Your Best Recipes for Weekly Meal Planning
From recipe apps to Pinterest, it is possible to both search and organize recipes online now. For some people that works great, but it can also be a problem. You know what I’m talking about—you hop on Pinterest to grab a recipe and instead find yourself looking at ideas for a home improvement project you weren’t even thinking about before. All before you even got to your “crockpot meals” board.
That’s why I recommend creating a notebook to organize your favorite, go-to recipes (and why I’ve included a page to list your go-to favorites in my Homemaking Planner).
All you need is a simple three-ring recipe binder and page protectors. If you love crafting—or one of your kids does—you can even decorate the binder and add personal photos throughout. This isn’t necessary, but can be a fun project that turns into a family keepsake.
Print from websites, copy from your cookbooks, or type them up in documents to print and place in sheet protectors to protect them from splatters and spills while cooking. Only add the recipes you want to use on a regular basis. You can even make separate sections of your favorite holiday recipes and desserts and ones you want to try.
2. Incorporate Meal Planning In Your Homemaking Planner
To stay organized you want to streamline your planning as much as possible and keep your resources for doing so in the same place. In my Homemaking Planner I’ve included weekly menu planning sheets to write out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for each day of the week.
With a binder of your go-to recipes and your homemaking planner, you’ll be equipped to do weekly meal planning quickly and efficiently.
3. Stock Up Smartly
This does not mean you need to spend a day freezer cooking, even though this is a great idea and can save you time in the long run. But there are other ways to make sure you always have everything you need on hand for meal prep quicker or in order to have an entire meal ready to go.
- Double and freeze. When you make casseroles, soups, meatloaf, lasagne, etc., be sure to double the recipe and freeze one for later.
- Create affordable convenience. Have a few convenience items on hand in the freezer. Seasoning blend of onions, celery, and bell peppers (either pre-bought or homemade), frozen berries, cooked rice, shredded cheese, browned ground beef, and two-cup servings of beans will cut down on prep time when you are in a hurry.
- Dedicate a shelf in your pantry for go-to meals. This might include a variety of pasta and sauce, taco shells, tostadas and canned refried beans, and canned soups. When plans fall through—and they inevitably do—you’ll still have something that takes only minutes to prepare.
Meal Planning for Busy Moms: Weekly Meal Planning
Weekly planning is key to saving time and money when it comes to feeding your family. Without a plan it’s so easy to just grab fast food or order take-out. Often we think those options save time, but don’t really factor in how much going to get the food and waiting in line takes. Save eating out for when it will be a real treat instead!
1. Set Aside Time for Weekly Meal Planning
As you know, I recommend having a planning time on Sundays. Sundays are also a great day to do your meal prep for the week. Whatever day of the week works best for you, make your meal planning time non-negotiable.
2. Consider These Things During Your Weekly Meal Planning
When you sit down to do meal planning, be sure to note any days that will be especially busy or that you have a late, outside commitment. Those are the days we’re most tempted to just “grab something while we’re out” if we don’t have a plan for something simple.
Think through any leftovers you will have from your meals. You can either freeze them for later or incorporate them in your weekly planning. Leftovers are often perfect for lunch or a Friday night “clean out the fridge” meal.
You’ll also want to consider the 2 S’s of meal planning: sales and seasons. What’s on sale? It’s always a great idea to check this week’s sales flyers when planning your meals for the week.
What fruits and vegetables are in season? What says “comfort” on cold winter nights? For example, we tend to have more soups and casseroles during the winter and grill more during the summer.
3. Decide on Your Meals for the Week
Some people like to think about themed dinner ideas like:
The ideas for themed dinners are endless! Having a weekly theme can narrow down your choices for each day, helping you to quickly come up with a meal plan.
Write out your plan for the week on a planning sheet or in a notebook. Be sure to include snacks as well so that you can have healthy options for your growing kids (and you!). You can save time by having a rotation of breakfasts and lunches that you regularly repeat.
Don’t forget: After you’ve made your plan and shopping list, be sure to check in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry so you don’t buy unnecessary items.
4. Shop for Groceries and Do Weekly Meal Prep
Experts say Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week to do your grocery shopping. Whichever day you do your planning and shopping, you should be thinking ahead so you have everything you need to prepare the meals you have planned.
Whether you choose to shop online or in the store, having a plan will keep you on track and save you from missing a key ingredient.
Once you get your groceries home, take some time to do some meal prep if possible. You can cut up vegetables, wash fruit, brown hamburger meat, and make homemade spice mixes such as taco seasoning. Put some chicken or a roast in a crockpot, then shred and freeze for tacos or quesadillas, casseroles, or to top a salad.
Have your kids help. It may take more time in the beginning, but in the long run you’ll teach them an important life skill and get the job done quicker as they take on more and more responsibility.
Meal Planning for Busy Moms: The Rewards
With a little work upfront, weekly meal planning will help you save time, money, and your sanity. You can cook healthy meals for your family without spending hours in the kitchen. Yes, you are busy, but nourishing your family is an act of worship to the Father.
You can spend less time in the kitchen, and more time around the table building your family relationships. Weekly meal planning will help you spend your time where it matters the most.