Why Busy Moms Everywhere are Obsessed with Meal Planning + Printables
Let’s be honest; moms everywhere are busy! Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or working mom, you probably have to balance any or all of the following: taking care of the kids, helping them with school work, managing family finances, schedules, activities, and special events, playing chauffeur, cooking, cleaning, and keeping up the house, on top of keeping up with your work, volunteering, or hobbies. Time is limited, and with so much to manage, you’re probably dealing with enough stress already, right!?!
What if I told you that by adding weekly meal planning into your schedule, you could significantly decrease your stress levels? You’ve probably heard of it and wondered how you would even find the time to fit this into your already jam-packed schedule. Surprisingly it saves more time than it takes. When I first heard about weekly meal planning, I remember thinking, “those people probably don’t have kids!” Well, I’m a busy mom of two, and it’s shockingly easy to create and start using an organized weekly meal plan. I’ll share with you exactly how to do this and divulge my secret to success–The Busy Mom’s Weekly Meal Planner!
Why You Need Weekly Meal Planning In Your Life
Here’s the truth, weekly meal planning takes time and effort upfront. But the payoff is totally worth it! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to return to the chaos. We’ve all been there. Try something different this week. Plan your recipes, dinner menu, and grocery list ahead of time. Planning your weekly menu will help your family eat healthier meals, save time and money, and reduce stress. And who doesn’t like the sound of that?
1. Save Time
Planning your meals saves you time every single day.
Instead of wasting time searching through the kitchen to determine what ingredients you have and what to make with them, you’ll already have a coherent plan. With weekly meal planning, you’ll already have recipes gathered, and ingredients accounted for–because your organized meal plan includes all the elements necessary on your grocery shopping checklist! And don’t forget about your leftovers. How much food do you throw away each week? It’s easy enough to double that easy 30-minute Chili recipe and have a cheat day once a week when you don’t feel like cooking.
2. Save Money
You only buy food you will eat in a week when you’ve planned and also reduce impulse buys at the grocery store. You won’t be throwing out old, unused, or forgotten food. Stop wasting money throwing out expired stuff you forgot you even had!
3. Decrease Stress
“Mom, what’s for dinner?” When you’ve got kids, the nightly dinner dance of trying to decide what to eat, then stressing over making it in time so you can get the kids into bed at a reasonable hour, while still dreaming of some downtime afterwards often creates a less than ideal and stressful situation. It doesn’t need to be! Simplify the whole process by planning your meals every week. It’s worth the effort! You already know what’s for dinner; it’s on the weekly menu. Post it on the fridge and avoid this inevitable question from your family!
4. Eat Healthier
When you’re facing the nightly get-the-kids-to-bed-struggle, sometimes we take the easy way out and either pick up some fast-food nonsense or order delivery. While there are undoubtedly a few healthy options for this, most likely you’re opting for something less than healthy like pizza.
When you cook all of your meals at home, it’s much easier to ensure it’s healthy for you and your family. You’re not just them making a home cooked meal, you’re looking out for their health too! After all, every mom wants what’s best for her kids.
How To Create an Organized Meal Plan for Your Family
If you’ve already read my post, The Clever Stay at Home Mom’s Guide to Getting Organized, you know that having a plan of action does wonders for streamlining your family’s daily household operations. You remember what to do and when to do it, and you’ve saved yourself from a lot of stress by regaining control. Adding weekly meal planning into the mix will save you valuable time, effort, and money, plus decrease your stress even more!
Start by downloading my free PDF–The Busy Mom’s Weekly Meal Planner for total organization and control over this week’s meals!
The Busy Mom’s Meal Planner Includes:
1. 7 Steps to Weekly Meal Planning Success
The easy-to-follow process is summarized–from start to finish. It’ll help you remember the process and follow it without that nagging feeling there’s something you forgot—no more stressing over what to make for dinner. You’ve got a plan, momma!
2. Recipe Card Template
The recipe card template is an entirely customizable recipe card with everything you need to remember for meal planning successfully. Color-coded sections for the ingredients, directions, and meal prep steps are included. Plus, an area for notating the time involved so you can plan accordingly.
3. Momma’s Weekly Menu
List your meals for the week on one page. Please print it out and post it on your refrigerator. Instead of being harassed by the inevitable annoying question, “What’s for dinner, mom?” refer them to the menu on the fridge.
3. Grocery Shopping Checklist
Using the recipes you’ve decided on for the week, put pen to paper and jot down everything you need for this week’s menu. Post it to your fridge with the menu, and jot down items you discover you need throughout the week! No more forgetting someone ate the last of the goldfish.
4. Pantry Essentials List
A companion to the grocery list ensures you never forget to include staple household items on the week’s shopping list. Toilet paper? Check. Trash bags? Check. Toothpaste? Check. One prepared momma? Check. Check. Check.
Now that you’ve downloaded The Busy Momma’s Weekly Meal Planner and are ready to save your family valuable time and money, reduce your stress, and eat healthier, let’s get started! Don’tworry, momma; I’ve broken down the entire process from start to finish! Read on and learn how to tackle your weekly meal planning like a mom boss!
7 Steps to Weekly Meal Planning Success!
Planning your meals for the week involves creating a menu for dinners only, or if you’re feeling super motivated, you can plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinners. Choose what works best for you. Organize your plan using The Busy Mom’s Weekly Meal Planner. For beginners, I recommend planning dinners first and then moving on to other meals once you’re feeling super motivated from successfully tackling the dinnertime challenge!
1. Collect Recipes
Source: @ClanKitchen via Pinterest
Step one is collecting the recipes you will make this week, either from recipes you already use or new ones. Here’s a delicious Mac & Cheese recipe that’s sure to please both kids and adults alike! Head over to Clan Kitchen for TONS of healthy family meals that are as delicious as they are easy to make! A win-win for moms and their families. Want a printable recipe card to keep track of all those delicious meals? Use my recipe card template in The Busy Mom’s Weekly Meal Planner.
2. Create a Weekly Menu
Now that you’ve collected your recipes add your dinners to your weekly menu. For time-saving, I usually include several quick and easy weeknight meals that can either be prepped ahead of time or can be thrown together in 30 minutes or less. You can also double a recipe to create leftovers, so you have a ready-made meal one night a week to give you a night off from cooking. Use my Weekly Menu Printable included in The Busy Mom’s Weekly Meal Planner.
3. Make a Grocery Shopping List
Once you’ve created the weekly menu, you can move on to the grocery list. Go through each menu item’s recipe and check your kitchen’s inventory for items needed while adding them to your list. Be sure to double-check your pantry essentials list too! I’ve included templates for both in the printable, so you’re sure to have everything you need!
4. Grocery Shop
Use your grocery list and stick to it! You could hop in the car, spend an hour or so perusing every aisle of your favorite grocery store, incur extra travel time. Or as an additional time-saver, you can free yourself from the hassle of grocery shopping and opt to order them online. You can order groceries for pickup, or to save even more time, opt for delivery instead. Doing so has saved my family 2 to 3 hours every week! A quick google search will tell you what stores near you offer these services. Do it and thank me later!
5. Clean Out the Fridge
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Make room before new groceries arrive by clearing out last week’s leftovers and expired items. It’s a great time to give the fridge a good wipe down with your favorite surface cleaner while it’s mostly empty. The quick maintenance cleaning will save you from having to pull everything out from a full fridge later to clean it. That’s at least 30 minutes you don’t have to waste that you can use to do something else, like (maybe) sit down for a minute!
6. Put Away Groceries
I have my fridge organized into categorized sections. This might seem excessive, but it’s super easy to find where everything is when it has a specific home. You can do this by storing items together in your fridge, cabinets, or pantry. Since you’ve already prepared by cleaning out the refrigerator, placing new groceries with like items is easy. This reduces the likelihood of throwing away things that went bad because they were shoved in the back of the fridge or hidden behind stuff in places you wouldn’t usually think to look. That’s money saved, momma! Below are some ideas on how to organize your groceries.
How to Organize Your Fridge:
- Eggs & Other Dairy Products
- Leftover Storage
- Fresh Fruits & Veggies
- Lunch Meats & Cheeses
How to Organize Your Cabinets Or Pantry:
- Canned Goods & Jars
- Unopened Condiments
- Baking Supplies
- Breakfast Foods
- Pasta & Boxed Foods
7. Meal Prep
Set aside 1 to 2 hours on a day and time that works best for your family–weekends are an excellent time for most people. Reviewing the directions section of the recipes you’ve selected for this week’s menu, think about what you can do ahead of time. For example, chopping veggies, cooking that pot pie filling ahead of time, and storing it in the fridge, or combining spices and storing them in a Ziploc bag. You’ll create plenty of dishes in the process, but remember–meal prepping ahead means fewer dishes to wash every day for the rest of the week! Read on for more meal prep ideas to save yourself time each night of the week! I use this recipe card template that includes a meal prep section I can fill in myself if it’s not already included in the recipe.
How to Meal Prep: The Step-by-Step Process:
1. Plan Ahead
- Use the Right Storage Containers- I recommend this set of glass airtight and spill-proof storage containers. They’re great for ensuring your meal prep doesn’t result in spoiled, spilled, or wasted food. Nobody likes wasted time or effort!
- Add Meal Prepping Time to Your Weekly Schedule. Again choose a day and time that works best for you when you’ll have an hour or two to devote to this. Any time you can spare to prep is time saved throughout the week, even if it’s just 30 minutes. You’ll have more time to focus on something you want to do. Trust me; it adds up!
- Set a calendar reminder or alarm on your phone so you’re sure to follow through. You’ve come this far planning your menu and shopping accordingly, see it through, and reap the rewards of more time, less stress, and more money saved!
2. Do the Work
- Make Rice & Pasta- Store these in your airtight containers. According to Momables.com, you can store them up to 3 days in advance.
- Make & Store Sauces–Sauces for spaghetti and other recipes can be made in advance, then reheated on the stove or in the microwave when ready to use them. Mason jars are great for this purpose!
- Cook Meats- like enchilada filling, ground beef, or crockpot shredded chicken (get the recipe here).
- Prep Veggies- Chop, slice, or dice veggies like peppers and onions up to 1 day ahead and store in an airtight container or ziploc bag until ready to use.
- Cook Baked Meals Ahead– like casseroles or chicken pot pies. Cook as many as you can manage in the time you’ve allotted. Store them in the fridge or freezer and reheat them in the oven. It’s the next best thing to not having to cook at all for one night! Who couldn’t use a break?
- Prep Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Meals- Slow cookers and instant pots gained their popularity for a reason. All you have to do is prep the ingredients, pop them in, set the timer, and get on with the day! Store it all in an airtight storage container or a gallon size zip-loc or a reusable silicone bag.
- Label Prepped Items & Store for Later–Keep them in the refrigerator or freezer. This step ensures you won’t have to worry about mixing up which recipe those chopped veggies are for and you’ll save yourself time finding the ingredients you prepped when you’re ready to use them!
- Finish Cooking or Reheat Meals–Pull out the prepped items or pre-cooked meals each day of the week and reheat them! You’ve just turned an hour long venture into something you can pull off in 30 minutes or less!
4. Feeling Extra Motivated?
- Prep Breakfasts- Pancakes, blueberry muffins, waffles, and granola breakfast parfaits are some examples of breakfast foods that can be made ahead and reheated quickly and easily!
Tackle Your Family Menu Like a Boss — with The Busy Mom’s Meal Planner
So now that you’re an expert in weekly meal planning, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. With a little planning ahead, your efforts quickly pay off by saving you valuable time, money, and effort. My hope is this reduces your stress and has given you the amazing gift of more time to do what you love (instead of spending it all in the kitchen)!
Ready to start eating healthier, save time and money, while minimizing your stress with weekly meal planning and prep? Yes! Download The Meal Planner today! Print it out and post it on your fridge for easy access. It includes everything a busy mom needs to get started! Let me know in the comments below how your new weekly meal planning and prepping is going! I’d love to hear from you.