Meal planning can be tough but there are solutions to help even the busiest families stay organized

As my children have grown, I have often struggled with meal planning. Over the years, I have found myself standing in front of the freezer at 4:00pm many times wondering what I can thaw for dinner.
There is no question about it: planning and preparing meals with and for young children is a gargantuan task. If you struggle with being consistent at this, rest assured, you are not alone. In fact, you are in good company.
So what are your options? Pizza every night? Chinese food take out?
When I had young children, I tried a variety of meal planning services–both paid and not paid. They usually only focused on dinner and I had 3 meals per day to make and sometimes snacks. These plans also didn’t account for *my* schedule. Maybe this week we were going to the grandparents’ for dinner. Or maybe it was a holiday week. Or we had a family birthday. Whatever it was, I always ended up off those meal plans within a week or two.
 

I now have a solution that works for me.

I created a meal plan course so I can teach you how to manage this task with plenty of ease. And I’m sharing it with you so you can have an easier time too.

I didn’t go back to meal planning because of all those challenges. Now, as my children are older, and our lives have gotten busier, I’ve found the need to get back into regular meal planning. I worked hard to create a format that would work for us. What I came up with allows me to write down what we will have for breakfasts, lunches and dinners each day.
Breakfasts on weekdays for us are always simple and easy. Maybe oatmeal. Maybe pancakes (which I can make in my sleep) or maybe an egg dish. Weekends, we tend to have fun, maybe even trying a new recipe.
I realized after filling out and following my meal plan for a couple of weeks that we had enough food made after 2 days to actually schedule in a meal of leftovers. Wow. Instead of planning for and making 21 meals in a week, I could plan 15 or 16 AND we would have all our leftovers eaten. Furthermore, I noticed that I was able to easily skip planning for the days I knew we would not be here. I focus on choosing local foods from farmers I know. Meal planning made shopping with local farms even more efficient and fun since I always know what I need now.
One thing that was important to me in meal planning was an additional column to remind me what I needed to do to prepare for the next day. Maybe get meat out to thaw or get something unusual from the store.

Pizza Night! It can’t be every night, but is definitely part of our meal plans

Tips and tricks

I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. It’s hard work to plan and make meals all the time. So here are my 10 tips to make it easier for us!
  1. Give yourself a break
  2. Plan regular themes, but vary them
  3. Packing lunches
  4. Fix one meal for everyone
  5. Give children an opportunity to choose menu items
  6. Enrolling older children in meal prep
  7. Make 2-3 meals at a time
  8. Plan two weeks at a time
  9. Remake recipes (or even use the same plan twice!)
  10. Get ideas and preferences from the children (or whoever you are cooking for)

 

Smoked salmon rolls with cream cheese

Meal Planning Course

So there you have it. You now know everything I know about making meal planning easier. If you want even more guidance, be sure to check out my online course on meal planning. I make it really easy to follow. I hope it helps you manage your meal plans and be efficient in your kitchen time.

Do you have tips and tricks that help you in the kitchen? Please share!

Liz Reitzig

Food is the Foundation of Liberty. Nourishing Liberty is where we plant seeds for ideas to grow and flourish A place to be inspired by each other, to join together in peaceful activism, to build community.

Wherever you are in your personal journey toward clean living and local food, thank you for joining me in mine. I look forward to sharing it with you.

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