10 Easy Meal Planning Tips for Busy Moms

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Life as a busy mom is a whirlwind of responsibilities, from school drop-offs to soccer practice and everything in between. Amidst this chaos, meal planning emerges as a superhero strategy that can save time, reduce stress, and ensure your family enjoys delicious and nutritious meals.

There is such an obvious difference in the weeks that I meal plan vs. the weeks that I don’t. And when it comes down to it, it’s nice to have less decisions to make on the fly!

So, friend, whether you’re a seasoned meal planner or a newbie looking to streamline your routines, I’ve compiled this collection of meal planning tips and hacks that are tailored to fit your busy lifestyle.

1. Create a Go-To List

When it comes to the art of meal planning, having a solid go-to list is akin to having a secret weapon tucked up your sleeve.

I’ve had plenty of those days when time felt short, and the idea of cooking an elaborate meal seemed implausible. This is where your go-to list swoops in to save the day, offering quick meal options that are a hit with your family.

Your go-to list is essentially a collection of tried-and-true recipes that you can rely on, knowing that they are not only well-received but also relatively quick and easy to prepare.

The foundation of meal planning is knowing what your family loves to eat. Create a list of go-to meals that are quick to prepare and well-received. These will be your lifesavers on those extra busy days.

2. Choose a Meal Planning Day

Dedicate a specific day each week for meal planning. Sit down with your calendar and take note of your family’s schedule – this helps you determine which meals need to be quick fixes and which can be more elaborate.

Carving out a dedicated space for meal planning can be a game-changer. I know for me, my “Meal Planning Day” has been a strategic choice that has empowered me to navigate my family’s weekly meals with confidence.

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Begin by choosing a day of the week that works best for your lifestyle. The key is consistency. By assigning a specific day for meal planning, you create a rhythm that becomes second nature – a habit that eventually saves you time and decision fatigue.

With your chosen day in mind, grab your calendar or digital planner. Take note of your family’s commitments, from soccer practices to late work meetings.

Understanding the rhythm of your week allows you to tailor your meal plan accordingly. Those busier days might call for quick and effortless dishes, while quieter evenings might allow you to swap it up a little and try a new recipe.

3.Batch Cook

Batch cooking is a game-changer for busy moms. On a less hectic day, prepare larger quantities of staples like roasted vegetables, cooked grains, or protein sources. These can be used as building blocks for multiple meals throughout the week.

Choose a less crazy day – maybe a lazy weekend or a chill weekday evening. Cook big batches of your go-to varieties like roasted veggies, grains, and protein. These become your meal building blocks all week.

You’ll have quick salads with those prepped veggies, easy grain bowls, and stir-fries with cooked protein.

Less kitchen time, more family time. Plus, you’re cutting food waste and takeout trash.

Related: 20 Efficient Laundry Hacks for Busy Moms (You’ve Never Tried)

4. Prep in Advance

Spend a chunk of time (even just an hour) prepping ingredients like chopping veggies, marinating proteins, or making sauces. This upfront investment will pay off when you’re racing against the clock on busy evenings.

On a calmer day, maybe during your kid’s nap or while catching up on your favorite show, set aside just an hour. This is the power hour (or even less) you spend chopping, marinating, and sauce-making, and it truly is your ticket to seamless meals on those crazy nights.

It’s so nice coming home after a whirlwind day knowing all you have to do is throw together a few prepped ingredients. Veggies are chopped, proteins are marinated, and sauces are at the ready.

Don’t stress about perfection here. This isn’t a gourmet cooking show – it’s about making your life easier. Those chopped veggies? Store ’em in the fridge for stir-fries, omelets, or salads. Marinated proteins can hit the grill or skillet straight from the fridge. And sauces? They’re your flavor boosters for everything from rice bowls to wraps.

This isn’t just about shortcuts; it’s about reclaiming your evenings. No more frantic chopping or last-minute marinating.

5. Theme Nights

This is one tip that often gets overlooked- theme nights!

Simplify meal planning by assigning themes to different nights. For example, Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, or Slow Cooker Sundays. This not only makes planning easier but also adds a fun twist to mealtime.

My family and I did Taco Tuesdays, but given our love of Mexican food and our busy Tuesday schedule, we opted for Mexican Mondays!

Theme nights offer a fresh perspective on mealtime that’s both practical and exciting.

6. Keep a Running Grocery List

Keep a running grocery list handy. As you run out of ingredients, add them to the list. This prevents last-minute grocery store dashes and ensures you have everything you need for your planned meals.

Incorporating a running grocery list into your routine might seem like a small change, but its impact is far-reaching. It’s a practice that cultivates organization, minimizes stress, and transforms your approach to meal planning and grocery shopping.

Here are some easy tips to help you with your list:

Keep a Notepad in the Kitchen

Place a notepad or a small whiteboard on your kitchen counter. Whenever you use up an ingredient, jot it down immediately.

Use a Mobile App

Many note-taking apps are available for smartphones. Create a dedicated list for your running grocery items and update it whenever needed.

Voice Assistants

If you have a smart speaker or device, you can tell it to add items to your grocery list as you use them.

Magnetic List Pad

Stick a magnetic notepad on your fridge. It’s a convenient spot to write down items that need restocking.

Share Digital Lists

Use shared digital platforms like Google Keep or Any.do to collaborate with family members or roommates on a common grocery list.

Combine with Meal Planning

While planning your weekly meals, take a quick look at your running list and add the needed ingredients to your plan.

Set Reminders

If you’re forgetful, set a reminder to review and update your list at a specific time each day or week.

Grocery Shopping Apps

Some grocery store apps allow you to create and manage shopping lists. As you use up items, add them to the app’s list.

Quick Photos

Snap a photo with your phone when you run out of an item. This visual reminder can be handy when you’re at the store.

Regular Check-Ins

Make it a habit to glance at your list before you head out for shopping. This ensures you’re not missing anything important.

Related: Staggering Benefits of Beef Liver Supplements

7. Embrace Freezer Meals

On days when you have a bit more time, prepare double batches of certain meals and freeze the extras. This gives you a stash of ready-made meals for the busiest of days.

Check out these BPA-Free, Freezer and Dishwasher Safe Food Storage Containers from Amazon!

Having a stash of frozen, homemade meals is like having a backup plan for your dinner. You get the convenience of store-bought frozen meals without compromising on the quality, taste, or nutrition of your food.

Cooking in larger quantities often lets you take advantage of bulk purchases and discounts. Plus, you’re saving on energy costs by cooking once for multiple meals.

Incorporating this strategy into your routine requires some planning and effort, but the convenience and peace of mind it provides are well worth it. With a stockpile of ready-made meals in your freezer, you’ve got a practical solution for those days when time is limited.

8. Take Advantage of Meal Planning Tools

Utilize meal planning apps or tools that allow you to save recipes, plan your week, and generate shopping lists all in one place.

Meal planning tools have revolutionized the way we approach cooking and dining, bringing efficiency and organization to the forefront. These apps and platforms offer a comprehensive solution to streamline your meal planning process, making it easier than ever to save recipes, create weekly menus, and generate shopping lists.

9. Use Crock Pot/Slow Cooker

Crock pots and slow cookers can be a game-changer in your kitchen (They have been for me). These devices offer a convenient and efficient way to prepare delicious meals with minimal hands-on effort.

Use these convenient appliances to cook meals with minimal effort. It’s so nice to prepare ingredients in the morning and come home to a ready meal!

10. Involve Your Family in the Meal Planning Process

Involving your family in the meal planning process is a wonderful way to foster connection, encourage healthy eating habits, and share the joy of cooking together.

If you little ones are anything like mine, they love to help in the kitchen.

Get your family involved in meal planning. Let kids pick a meal for the week, or have a designated “Cooking Together” night where everyone contributes to preparing dinner.

Bonus Tip: Keep Meal Planning Flexible

Life is unpredictable, so be open to switching up meals if plans change. Keep a list of quick and easy meal options for those days when your original plan goes out the window.

Conclusion

Meal planning isn’t about adding another item to your never-ending to-do list; it’s a powerful tool that empowers busy moms to reclaim their time, reduce stress, and prioritize family well-being.

With these meal planning tips and hacks, you’re equipped to navigate the whirlwind of motherhood while ensuring your family enjoys nourishing and delicious meals.

I hope you found these tips helpful! Which one are you planning to put into place first?

Happy planning and bon appétit!

-Love, Kacie

About The Author

Founder at The Honeyroot | Website | + posts

Kacie is a wife, homeschool mom of 4 boys (from toddler to teen), and a sixth generation homesteader with a passion for natural and sustainable living, creating a home that educates the mind and nurtures the soul, and reclaiming our independence like our ancestors before us.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great post about meal planning! Such good info in here! I love to invite my family members to help me create my meal plan because they are more likely to eat what I make when they help choose meals or help prepare them! Thanks for al the great tips!

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