Meal Planning for Dummies. Or for normal people. Whatever.

I love this! Easy, practical ideas for regular families -- also there is a printable template. Great idea to plan out snacks, too!

I’m a meal planner.

I wish I wasn’t sometimes, because having a meal plan attached to the fridge kind of makes me look like an obsessive control freak.

Except. Having a meal plan saves us time and money, and the 10-12 minutes I spend once a week means I’m not obsessing over meals 5-6 times a day, every day.

Last year, I didn’t stick to my meal plan very well. The Crock-Pot slow cooking thing kind of took on a life of it’s own, and I fell behind on planning ahead for anything other than what I needed to slow-cook. Although I knew that this was a temporary problem in our family, I felt floundery (that’s a word, right?).

I hated that the kids were climbing into the pantry looking for a snack. I hated that I was often grabbing a bent string cheese at 10am because I had forgotten to eat breakfast. And I hated that since I wasn’t planning out my snacks and meals, I was more susceptible to eating Chocolate Frito Candy and Pound Cake instead of some yogurt and fruit when the afternoon munchies hit.

So. I’m back to meal-planning, and it FEELS GOOD.

I get it that it seems controlling and somewhat limiting.

I know.

I was terribly hesitant to write everything down at first, too.

But it works. Kids like and need a routine, and their bodies function better when they have snacks and meals at set times.

Guess what? Grown-up bodies seem to like routine, too, and scheduling 5-6 mini meals throughout the day is better than only eating once or twice. (so they say.)

😉

Go figure.

Also, I used to run Pre-School Centers

For under-privileged children. So I *know* (I mean I really really really  know!) how well planning out menus works for little kids. It’s the best way to get them to eat “new” things — it’s written down on the LIST.

and who is to argue with THE LIST?

right?!?!

😉

 

anyways.

 

updated meal plan

Here are some of the things we routinely have/eat in our house:

Breakfast:

yogurt, frozen blueberries, granola

frozen pancakes/waffles

oatmeal

muffins

baked oatmeal

regular oatmeal

cold cereal with banana and milk

toast with cream cheese, or PB&J

Lunch:

salami and cheese in a tupperware

sandwiches of all varieties (tip: put mayo/mustard in-between the meat to keep the bread from becoming soggy. Also, when making PB&J, put a thin layer of peanut butter on both sides of the bread, and then the jelly in the middle)

string cheese

bananas, apples

carrots and ranch

tortilla chips

Snacks:

fruit

cheese

yogurt

applesauce

muffins

chips and hummus

edamame

veggies and ranch

taquitos

quesadillas

Dinner:

my kids will ALWAYS eat plain pasta with butter and parmesan cheese. That is the go-to meal in our house when I don’t think they will eat much of the main dish, or when we’re too busy to make a “real” meal.

baked beans

refried beans

I try hard to have a vegetable of some sort on the table. My kids like: string beans, artichokes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts (I know. I have no idea how this happened.)

Use your slow cooker. Make food the lazy way. Make a big batch of stew, beans, or a pot roast and pick at the food for a few days. Repurpose leftovers. If  I can help it, I try to only cook 3-4 times a week (other than last year. that wasn’t normal for anyone) and then re-use the leftovers in casseroles or as burrito filling.

 

We are a gluten-free family. Since we have food allergies, we need to plan a bit more ahead than other people need to. It’s not as easy for us (or anyone else monitoring food intake) to order delivery or swing by a fast-food joint.  Because of this, we have been forced to think ahead when making food choices. I do feel that because of this we eat more healthy and are happier in our meals than we were when we just “grabbed something” at the last minute.

Further resources:

14 Different Already-Done-for-You Meal Kits

30 Dump and Go Freezer Meals

 

Learn the Exact Strategies I use to Keep My House and Family Running Smoothly

(without losing my marbles!) by downloading this free cheat sheet for moms.

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52 Comments

  1. I wish that I was a compulsive meal planner. Instead, I am a “machine gunner” meal planner. WHEN I get around to meal planning, I obsessively plan six means, assuming that one meal will be leftovers. But then I either don’t get or have all of the ingredients when it is time to cook, or I get busy with other things and don’t get the ingredients out of the freezer in time to thaw, or I don’t get the meal started on time. I am going, once again, to try meal planning. It just has to stick sometime, why not now? Thank you for your well thought out planning guidance. I will let you know how it goes. I REALLY do want this to work. I am feeding my wife and I, our granddaughter and her husband and our two young great granddaughters (4 & 7) who all live in our house together.

  2. I’ve learned that meal planning is not an all or nothing, and it’s different for every family. For me, it works best to just plan dinners all week and keep our family’s staple items on hand for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. I’ve also started making Thursday dinner our “pantry/fridge/freezer clean out” day to help cut food waste. Every Friday we have homemade pizza (store bought dough shortcut) and salad. So that just leaves 5 nights to plan. Breakfast and lunch are typically the same things so I just make sure I have those items on hand. Lunch we typically eat leftovers, turkey sandwiches, or peanut butter sandwiches, with a side of fruit or carrots or chips. On my weekly meal plan, for breakfast/lunch/snack, I just note a few ideas for each category so that if someone (or me ha) can’t think of what to eat for those categories they just look at the list and pick from the few options.

    Some of the items I always keep on hand are: carrots, salad mix, arugula, pint of cherry tomatoes, applesauce pouches, yogurt, nuts/trail mix, dried pasta, breakfast bars/snack bars, cereal, peanut butter, turkey, cheese, canned tuna, bread, freeze dried fruit, one or two options of fresh fruit, frozen broccoli, frozen peas, canned tomatoes.

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