Meal planning for working moms helps alleviate stress and makes meal time enjoyable. Cooking regular staples are a must because we all love consistency and comfort. Having organized food shopping lists saves time and mommy energy. Picking recipes which are easy for you to make helps get dinner on the table quicker and stops the kids from asking “Is dinner ready yet?”
If you are new to meal planning, here’s how to start.
Clean out the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
Check the dates on all cans and purge. Any food that it’s been sitting for awhile (perhaps you bought it for a new recipe you wanted to try?) pack them up and donate to your local food pantry. Organize what remains and document your inventory. I group all the snacks on one shelf, cooking dinner’s lunches on the next, baking items and bread, then cereal on the bottom so that the kids have easy access. Group similar items together so it’s easy to spot when you’re running low.
Plan what you will cook.
Poll your family:
- Ask, “<family member’s name>, what is your favorite home cooked meal?” or “If I were to make your favorite meal tonight, what would that be?
- What recent meal did you make that your family praised you for?
- What is your favorite meal?
- What is your favorite recipe to follow?
Examine the list and evaluate how much time each meal will need.
Any meal that can be made in 30 minutes or less will be a week night meal. The rest will be weekend meals which you could double for left-over night.
Create a weekly menu
Based on your meal planning poll create a weekly menu. Post it somewhere everyone can see, like a white board. If someone asks, “What’s for dinner?” refer them to the menu.
If the kids can’t read yet you can look at the menu and quickly answer them. If your family really craves consistency, you could serve a beef dish on Monday, chicken dish on Tuesday, pasta on Wednesday, pork dish on Thursdays, pizza on Fridays, and left-over’s on Saturdays.
Create a food shopping list based on your local supermarket’s aisle layout. Some supermarkets may have this type of list. Others may have an app that can tell you what you’ve purchased in the past and you can make a list from that. Bulk up on items that are used in your top five meals.
Begin a meal binder
You could make a physical binder where you have all of your recipes organized by meal type. In the front of the binder, you can have a table of contents at the front, which may also include recipes you know by heart, as well as your family’s favorite takeout meals.
A fun way to Introduce new meals
Pinterest is a great meal planning tool. On my Pinterest account I have a board titled “Yummy-ness” where I will pin meals I’d like to try (I also have a gluten-free one). If I enjoy the meal, meaning it didn’t take too long and the family liked it, I move the pin over to “What’s for dinner” board.
Eventually I’ll write out the recipe and place it in my binder for ease of use.