I KNOW meal planning can be daunting. There is so much to think about: what your family’s schedule is for the week, what meals you WANT to make, what meals your family will actually EAT… Maybe you don’t actually like cooking and the thought of coming up with five different recipes is anxiety-provoking. Maybe your schedule is so haphazard you don’t even know where to start. It can be easy to just throw in the towel and not bother with meal planning, at all.
But trust me, mama: Meal Planning has SO many benefits. So how can you simplify meal planning so it feels less burdensome and more like a way to create ease in your week?
1. Leave the idea of ‘recipes’ behind. Just because I create recipes doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate throwing together meals from ingredients! That’s one of the reasons I meal prep- so I have the ingredients on hand to create nourishing meals, without needing to follow a recipe every time. If you’re the creative type, and you want more freedom– or recipes feel daunting, plan your meals around a couple of different proteins and veggies and adjust as you go. ‘Chicken and veggies’ is sufficient- you still have a plan.
2. Create a family favorites list. I’ve talked about this ad nauseum, I know. But it truly is SO helpful in simplifying the meal planning process. Again, in going back to not needing recipes- you can have recipes on this list; you can also have simple meals (like we have ‘burgers’, ‘taco bowls’ and ‘quesadillas’ on our list). It’s whatever your family enjoys, will eat and fits in with your schedule and preferred eating style.
3. Save recipes to try on Pinterest or a similar app. If you do love trying new recipes, or just get bored after a while, Pinterest is a GREAT resource for saving recipes to try later– or, if you’re a paper girl, a google search and a binder works, too. Have these close by so you can easily pick and choose new recipes for your meal plan.
4. Try a rotating meal plan. One of the HUGE benefits of having a meal planner is that you can save previous meal plans! I always recommend choosing recipes with similar ingredients to simplify meal prep and save money– these carefully thought out meal plans can take time! Save them and use them later! Or better yet, if your family loves a week of meals, establish a rotating meal plan of 2-4 weeks at a time (I like mixing it up seasonally), so you’re not eating the same meals every week, but you do repeat meals once or twice a month for ease.
5. Cook once, eat twice. You guys know how big I am on meal prep. However you do it- whether it’s a couple hours on the weekend or a little each day during the week, prepping ahead is the easiest way to simplify meals. Plan ahead meals that can be used more than once- proteins work well for this as a base- for instance, a whole chicken, a couple pounds of ground meat or a big batch of beans.
Want to simplify + streamline your meal planning? Check out the Healthy Mama Meal Planner.
Ready to learn to meal prep for your busy mama life? Check out the Healthy Mama Meal Prep Course.