Being a busy mom is hard! It feels often as if you have a bazillion tabs open in your brain at one time and you’re just trying to remember it all! Here are 10 meal planning tips that I hope will ease some of your stress and help you feel prepared to put a meal on the table at dinner.
1.) Find a system that works for you
This is key! Meal planning is very individualized- what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. Here are some things to think about- do you prefer to plan weekly or monthly? Are you more techy and can meal plan digitally? Or are you more old school and paper/pencil is your thing?
Consider a menu board for your kitchen. This lets your family know what to expect for dinners for the week! There are so many cute ideas on Pinterest- consider buying one or making your own!
2.) Find a central place to house your recipes
Pick one place to easily access your recipes. If you prefer your recipes printed out, put them in a recipe binder. Consider using dividers to separate your recipes by meal or protein. If you are technologically savvy, use an app such as Paprika to store your recipes! Paprika makes it easy to search for your favorite recipes and add what you need to your grocery list.
3.) Plan meals around one protein
Buy one protein and eat it all week! This not only makes it easier to plan your meals, but it also makes it cheaper in the long run.
4.) Plan some meatless meals
5.) Batch Cook
Cook once and eat all week! Batch cooking involves cooking one grain or one protein and using it in a variety of ways throughout the week. Cook up some brown rice or quinoa on Sunday, use it for grain bowls, chicken casseroles, or even rice pudding! Roast a chicken or cook up some chicken in the instant pot and use it for shredded chicken tacos, chicken noodle soup, or chicken salad!
6.) Grocery Shop Once a Week
Plan ahead so you only need to go to the grocery store once a week! When you meal plan, write down everything you need for each recipe. See what you already have in your pantry and then put everything else on your grocery list. Pro-tip- the best time of the week to go grocery shopping is Wednesdays! Generally the crowds are light and the shelves are fully stocked! Many people plan their week Monday through Sunday…try planning your week Thursday through Wednesday.
7.) Buy in bulk
Buy the groceries that you need the most in bulk. This will save you money in the long run and will also help you pull together a quick meal in a pinch! Consider purchasing a membership to a warehouse club, such as Costco or Sam’s Club. Keep a list of the items that you buy in bulk the most often.
8.) Use your slow cooker!
Slow cookers are the busy mom’s best friend! Dump your dinner in in the morning and it’s ready by dinner time. Little effort needed! You can also freeze crock-pot meals in freezer bags so that you can dump the meal when you are ready to cook. Check out my Crock Pot French Dip Sandwich and Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup.
9.) Use your instant pot!
Instant pots are a saving grace for moms. Throw in a tough cut of meat such as a roast or a pork butt, and it will be tender and melt in your mouth. You can even throw in frozen meat and cook it without defrosting it (works great for frozen chicken!). Check out my Instant Pot Pinapple Pork and Instant Pot Chili Recipe.
10.) Give yourself grace
Finally, realize that as a busy mom, life gets crazy. You may not always be the perfect meal planner- and that’s ok! Take it one week at a time and know that next week is a new week. You got this!!
I hope that these 10 meal planning tips help to make your life a bit smoother! Try one out or all ten and see how it may help to simplify your life.