Life is not simple. Or easy. But making a meal plan can be. Even if you have no time.
I have so many roles to balance: child of God, wife, mom, chef, housecleaner, homeschool teacher, chauffeur, church volunteer, coordinator of fun and teaching the world how to eat and live healthy.
I feel such pressure to be great at all of them.
Can you relate?
While I haven’t mastered the balancing act yet, I have systemized some of my duties so they stay afloat without as much effort.
Like planning out my homeschool year all at one time, having a weekly cleaning routine and making a habit of morning quiet time.
The other way I’ve made life easier is by creating a simple, easy way to make a meal plan.
The task of making a meal plan can seem daunting – what will you make? Will it taste alright? Will it be healthy? What ingredients do I get and from where?
However, as intimidating as the task may seem, so is the time it takes to plan your meals. It often makes the life of busy cooks even busier – meal planning was supposed to help!
But making a meal plan is essential to your health and your budget. In actuality, a meal plan will help you cook on a budget of money and time, make your food innovative and interesting, and help you plan healthy meals that better meet your needs and those of the loved ones you are feeding eat.
Let’s take a look at how you can plan your meals more efficiently.
Allot time to meal plan, shop and prep.
When meal planning is an abstract concept that you mull over all day, it starts creeping into all other aspects of your day. You may become indecisive and shift between multiple meals. You crack open the recipe books and blogs and end up spending a large chunk of time just searching. At the next mealtime, you end up trying to cobble together a complex meal that took more from you than it gave.
WEEKLY: Carve out 30 minutes to sit down and plan your meals for the week. Write out your meal plan. Make a grocery list from your plan. Decide when you will shop. Put it on your calendar.
DAILY: Set aside 10 minutes every day to plan for the next day. We need to look at the weekly meal plan we set and set our intention to follow it for the day.
Inventory what you already have.
Make an inventory of everything you already have in your fridge and pantry and plug the variables in to find what you can make from what you already have. This gives you a specific set of recipes that you can explore in your meals and ensure minimum food wasting.
Choose simple, healthy meals.
Do not think you need to create an eclectic menu where you are always trying to “go big or go home.” Understand that some of your most trusted and classic recipes are those that take advantage of the natural flavor of the ingredients. Try to choose meals that are made from simple, whole foods, and those will yield the most flavor with the least ingredients. This Top 50 Foods for REAL Weight Loss is a great list of foods to create meals from.
Set health objectives for the days.
What is it that your body requires? Is there something you want your children having that they do not get enough of? Set goals you want to meet and deficiencies you want to make up for. Have a day selected for fish, chicken, or vegetarian. Choosing a “themed meal” makes your meal planning much more streamlined and effective and will make your weekly planning healthier and more convenient.
Batch cook your meals.
Build a stock of staples. You could make sides such as brown rice and quinoa or beans ahead of time and freeze them. This will make you plan meals according to what sides you have available and all you will have to do is pair main dishes with sides and veggies. Not only will this cut down your meal planning time but it will also significantly reduce your cooking time.
Cook Once. Eat Twice.
You don’t have to start each meal from scratch. Cooking once and eating twice will increase the amount of home cooked foods in your diet without spending too much time in the kitchen. When planning your meal plan, use this to help it flow day by day.
Consider a Meal Plan Service.
If you still find making a meal plan challenging, then you can look to outside resources to help you!
It is why I’ve included Recipes with Suggested Weekly Meals as part of Healthy Free U.
Every month, the members of Healthy Free U receive:
- a new batch of yummy, simple, whole food recipes (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert recipes!)
- suggested weekly meals all laid out
- print and go shopping lists to make shopping a breeze
- batch cooking instructions
- kid-friendly suggestions for even the pickiest eaters
- vegan and omnivore choices