So let’s talk about meal planning for a few minutes. It’s probably one of the most stressful things we have to do as moms, am I right? Maybe you love doing it, but in my household meal planning is a lot of work for me. I have many different food intolerances to deal with (both my kids have dairy and gluten issues), my husband is a picky eater ( I swear food is a love language to him) and then I try to cook for my own personal health. However, meal planning must take place in order for things to run smoothly, everyone to feel good and behavior to be somewhat normal 😋
I enjoy cooking when I have the time, which I don’t right now with two young boys. But when given the time I really do enjoy trying new recipes, making unique foods and offering my family a really good home-cooked meal. I despise dishes, so sometimes I like to be quick and easy with my meals, meaning less than 30 minutes and not a lot to clean up afterward. But hey we all have those things we dislike doing and avoid.
I have been meal planning for my family since I was married, almost 8 yrs now and I want to share some different ways you can meal plan, give you a few meal planning services or suggestions and offer ten of my best meal planning tips to help you! I want my meal planning advice to help you get organized, feel less stressed about mealtime and be confident and happy every time you eat!
3 Different Ways to Meal Plan
- Use a dry erase board, glass picture frame, chalkboard or one of our great FREE weekly meal planners to plan out all your meals. Make sure to do what fits your family’s needs.
- Shop local ads and find out what meats, fruits, veggies and snacks are on sale for the week and plan your meals around those sale items
- Look at your weekly activities, appointments, and events and plan your meals based on how much time you have each day and think about what you will need to make each meal.
- Check the weather to see if any days might be good for grilling, baking, or making soup.
- Keep it simple and have the same meats on the same days of the week: For example beef on Mon/Sat, chicken on Tues/Thurs, no meats on Wednesdays, fish on Fridays, and then eat out one day a week.
- Ask everyone in the family what their favorite meals are and make sure to plan those meals at least once in the bi-weekly meal planning list
- Make a list of 10-15 of you and your family’s favorite dinners, then using a monthly calendar schedule out each meal 1-3 times.
- Shop your local wholesale food stores for there sales and use coupons if possible.
- Stock up on regularly used or needed items such as sauces, noodles, canned goods, soup stock ect when they are on sale or you can get a big discount for buying in bulk.
Meal Planning Services
- Plan to Eat is a meal planning service that is really easy, some of us moms here at Survivingmoms have used it and found it very helpful for our families. The premise is that you’ll get a full week’s menus, customized to your own preferences and health goals, sent right to your inbox (or smartphone). It’s then up to you to purchase the food (though some of these companies will give you the option of ordering ingredients directly through their sites) It makes mealtime a breeze because you can find the recipes anywhere and easily add them to a calendar, it creates a list for you and you shop and get what you need and make your meals. Simple, easy and all from an app.
- Hello Fresh– boxed meal delivery service I absolutely loved this boxed food meal service it was such good food, with everything I needed in the box, super simple easy to make delicious food. The only downfall I felt like it was way to expensive for me and my family. I could not justify the cost of each boxed meal over me going to the grocery store and creating something of my own. But if I had a little more money in my budget I would easily do this at least 3 meals a week, because it was fantastic stuff! Also, they always have huge deals for first-time sign-ups- so be sure to check for ways to get free meals.
- Omaha steaks– meat delivery service I know this sound ridiculous but they really had a great selection of food and it was super simple, very reasonable with the right coupon codes and deals. Plus I felt like the meat, potatoes and desserts lasted us for a long time with as many meals as we were able to get out of the boxed deals we did. So if you are not sure what to do for meals this was any easy and really delicious option.
- Local Farmers Markets- I love to get the freshest fruits, veggies, cheeses and anything else I can find so I like to shop on a weekly basis at our local farmer’s markets and frequently base my meals off of what I find is in season. This way I can get really good stuff and then look at the grocery stores for great meat prices and create easy healthy dinners this way.
10 Helpful Tips for Meal Planning
- Create a binder or recipe box filled with your families favorite, easy meals and recipes all in one place
- Plan to eat out once a week or more if you can afford it, trying new restaurants, menus and having someone else cook for a change is totally ok and sometimes leftovers from a restaurant meal turn into the next day’s lunch or dinner modified so 2 meals for the price of one is a good deal!
- Make sure you write out your weekly meals out on a dry erase board, one of our awesome free printables or using an app or online document.
- Creating your grocery list and meal planning go hand in hand- once you write down your meals for the week immediately make your grocery list.
- Do an inventory of what items you already have in your pantry, freezer or cupboards and create meals based on those items first. I do this at least once a month to make sure food doesn’t go bad or get left in my pantry for months at a time.
- Plan on a crockpot, air fryer, instant pot easy one and done kinda meal at least once a week. when you have super busy evenings or days planned these preplanned easy meals really make it simple when it’s mealtime.
- Frequently ask your family what their favorite meals are or foods they want you to make. You will be surprised at what suggestions they come up with or what meals come to mind.
- Look at local grocery store ads, use online coupons or app discounts to keep grocery bills lower and meal planning easy. You can easily create meals based on what is on sale.
- Have at least 1 staple meal everyone likes to eat or that is easy to make every week.
- Be creative, get your kids involved with dinner prep and remember you get to decide what your family eats and that means you have the power to choose new and exciting flavors, spices, meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies ect. Diversity in cooking can be so much fun for everyone- you never know what new and exciting favorite family meal can emerge from branching out and trying new things!
I hope these tips and suggestions help you in your meal planning. No matter what or how you do it, you can not do it wrong. You just need to do what works for your family, your time and your budget. Hopefully, you feel like meal planning is a little bit easier. Be sure to check out more of our mom survival tips, parenting advice, and don’t forget to follow us on social media!
Happy Meal Planning! Keep being awesome moms!