How do I feed a family of 6 with scrumptuous meals every night of the week? Very easily. I plan ahead.
It actually is way easier than it looks. Don’t be intimidated!
A lot of women ask me how I have all my meals planned out for week, and how I plan it with home school, worship practice, Sunday and wed night services to do music for, house chores and my “side hustles” (businesses). I usually just say, “very easily”, and I have gotten snears, head nods and smiles. So, I figured I should probably explain myself a little bit better :).
Planning ahead is essential for an organized and budget-friendly weekly meal plan. I’ve learned through the years how to meal plan for my week very efficiently. It was not always so fast and easy for me though.
I struggled through the planning and organizing phase, and most of the time, I failed and always left out meals or forgot to buy ingredients that were essential for specific meals. It was frustrating and defeating. But, I finally got in a “groove”, and so I want to share with you how I do it.
Start with your “faves”
Begin to get all of your favorite (fave) recipes together. The ones that are “tried and true”. You do not need to plan for a month (although I know someone who does that…crazy lady 😉 ). All you need is one week! Start there!
I do one week at a time for multiple reasons. The main reason being that I like to buy a lot of fresh produce, and I am unable to fit any more items in my fridge every week if I plan for more than one week. I like to cook fresh and healthy meals, so I need to be able to have fresh ingredients on hand at a moments notice. I do not like going to the store multiple times a week. Once for me please!
I usually sit down on a Tuesday morning, get my coffee, my laptop, my meal planning notepad (click below on the link to buy the one I usually use…), and the local grocery store app (Vons app), and begin to look at whats on sale first.
Most of the time, your local big name grocery stores will have an app or a coupon program. If you don’t have a coupon or rewards program, I highly suggest you get it. It really helps to keep the budget down for us.
With that being said, I use Vons.com to not only load coupons online, but to check what’s on sale through their online store ad. I like Vons because their app is very easy to use (Vons.com). I am able to load my own personal grocery list online, and then when I go to the store I am able to easily access my list (and any other available coupons that I may have missed), right on my phone app! It eliminates the randomly “scrawled” paper and pen method.
My weekly meal plan
Once I have all of the tools I need, I am able to look at what’s on sale (through the online ad), and then plan accordingly. Planning your weekly meals according to whats on sale will dramatically reduce your spending and decrease your grocery budget. I am always inspired by some of the random things that go on sale.
For instance, if I see that green bell peppers are on sale for .49 cents each, I may want to plan a meal (or a couple of meals) that use bell peppers in the list of ingredients. If a type of meat, like ground turkey was on sale that week for $2.50 a lb, I will probably have my Texas Chili on the menu (check out my recipe page).
You see…it’s not rocket science. It really is that simple!
Here is an example of what my menu looked like last week (this is not my usual menu notepad, but I used this last week because I ran out of my usual one).
(Sorry it is a little blurry, but you get the general idea.)
Once I get the meals for each night down, then I am able to plan my grocery list online. I only buy what I need for each meal. I make sure to always have healthy snacks like fruit and veggies available for my husband and for the kids, so I make sure to add those to my list. But, having everything already written down and planned for each night, allows me to not be stressed at the end of the day. I know exactly what I will be cooking, and all of the ingredients for the dinner are in the fridge and ready to go.
I usually will have enough leftovers by the end of the week, that Sundays are usually our “leftover” night. That way, I get a “night off” of cooking. If there aren’t enough leftovers, then I will throw something simple and fast together like “breakfast for dinner”, etc.
Once you start utilizing your favorite recipes, you are able to try out new recipes and meals whenever you feel like it.
I’ve asked my husband if he gets bored eating the same types of meals about twice a month, and he says, “of course not! I enjoy everything you make…It’s like going to my favorite restaurant… I always get my favorite food!”
That’s all I need to hear! I’ll cook for you any day Stud!
Back to the post…
Have grace on yourself! If you are really good at making a certain dish, and you make it often. You will eventually learn more recipes and be able to add them into your menu. Fast meal planning takes time to perfect!
Lunches for days!
The great thing about cooking simple and healthy dishes every night is leftover lunches!!! It makes it very easy to have healthy and “put together” lunches for my husband to take to work every day, and for me as a busy mom to have them as well.
What I do is use serving sized Tupperware, and take the leftovers after dinner, and put them into the containers for the next day or two! Yummy and delicious lunches for days!
I stack them neatly and have them ready for my husband to add to his lunch box. It makes it so that I don’t have to get up at 4:30 am and pack his lunch for him. I LOVE EFFICIENCY!
I also keep protein shakes, drinks and yogurt readily available so that my husband can grab healthy snacks and drinks to pack for his lunches.
Doing these little things really makes my husband feel respected and supported in his work. He has told me numerous times how much those little things mean to him. 🙂
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Some weeks, I will even plan for which breakfasts I will make or have available for my kids to easily make. I have been training my almost 8-year-old and my almost 7-year-old to make lunches for themselves and for their siblings, and they have been making easy breakfasts for a few months now. It really helps me when I am trying to get other things done.
I encourage you to start training your kids when they are young, in practical things. They are more capable than you think, and it really takes the stress off of you having to make every meal for them. For example, if you make oatmeal ahead of time, it makes a quick and easy breakfast. My oldest (Jesse) can easily turn on the stove to warm up the oatmeal and dish it out when it is ready. Bagels and cream cheese, cereal (rarely), fruit and muffins and the like, are also easy for kids to put together.
Here’s some ideas for easy and quick breakfasts…
As far as lunches go, the kids usually eat leftovers, PB&J sandwiches, turkey and veggie sandwiches or bagels of some sort with veggies and fruit. So, I always keep my fridge stocked with these staples.
I actually enjoy eating leftovers because (as mentioned before), they are generally pre-portioned and all I have to do is pop them in the microwave and I have a healthy hot meal for lunch in like 2 minutes! I also love protein shakes with veggies and berries in them for my lunch.
I do NOT eat the kinds of lunches that my kids eat. Not because they are unhealthy, but because they would be Crossovers (THM) or “cheat meals” for me. Their little bodies need the extra carbs, fats and some sugars. I DO NOT. lol. I know a lot of mamas get overwhelmed by the middle of the day, and don’t want to cook anything, so they often just eat what their kids are eating. NO BUENO. At least not for my waistline.
It’s easier than you think to eat healthy lunches. Leftovers are just my way of doing that most days, but maybe you have some ideas to start implementing healthy lunch choices into your diet? I’d love to hear how you do it! Shoot me an email or comment below!
Here are some of my yummy “leftover” lunches…
Try, Try Again
So there you go. That’s how I do my meal planning. I’m sure that when I get more time on my hands (someday, hopefully), I will be even more organized and efficient. It all just takes time and intentionality. You have to want to save money, and you have to put the time into preparing.
- Who wouldn’t want to know exactly what they will have for dinner every night without having to guess or stress?
- Who wouldn’t want to save money on their grocery budget?
- Who wouldn’t want accolades from their husband for making him feel respected and cared for?
It seems like a “no brainer” to me!
If you have a hard time starting out with your meal planning, then it’s ok! Try, try again! You will get into a routine and it will become faster and easier for you. Have patience with yourself, and just try it!
You got this!