Meal Planning for Busy Moms

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Meal planning as a working mom doesn’t have to be as intense as some would lead you to believe. As a busy mom you are short on time and energy, so sometimes dinner plans get left till the last minute causing more stress on your schedule.


But there is a way to streamline your dinner time. With just a few minutes a week, you can organize your favorite meals and put them in a rotation to create a perfect meal plan for your family.




Meal Planning Guide for Moms - It can be hard to get started with meal planning if you feel like a beginner or aren’t clear how to make meal planning efficient for your family. Use this ultimate meal planning printable to help you streamline dinner time! Guide includes a shopping list, weekly meal plan calendar and a recipe bank!


Meal Planning Step 1 – Be Flexible 


I can’t tell you how many times I have started a meal planning routine and then not followed through.


Do you want to know why I haven’t been able to commit?


Because I make the meal plan way too rigid.

The first time I fail, I fall off the wagon, only to tell myself that I will never be the type to stick to a well-organized meal plan.


Which is why in this system, I am recommending that you focus on flexibility.


I use “Wildcard Meals” a couple of nights a week to make sure that I don’t burn myself out on trying to prepare the perfect meals every night.


Wildcard meals are easy and simple dinners. For you, that may mean pasta or a fresh salad. For me, that typically meals Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches or cereal.

Like super easy meals.


Because things come up. Sometimes you might have to work late. Or you may be way more exhausted than you anticipated.


Don’t stress if you have to change your meal plan unexpectedly. Just make it a wildcard night.


Our Wildcard nights are typically Wednesdays (Bible Study) or Fridays, due to pure exhaustion from the ending of the workweek.


Examples of wildcard meals: 


– Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
– Quesadillas
– Pasta with Chicken
– Breakfast for dinner (AKA: eggs and frozen waffles)
– Turkey Cheddar Wraps


Meal Planning Step 2 – Start with A Good Foundation



The best thing that you can do for your meal planning success is to start with a bank of meals.


These are meals that are going to be crowd pleasers and you know you can make them with your eyes closed.


I would suggest writing down 10 of these go to meals that you can pull from as you create your meal plan each week. You can always pepper in fun meals that you have been wanting to try, but having these go-to meals already written down will make your life MUCH easier!


As you add more and more meals to your list, you can start using these 10 basic meals as your wildcard meals. No pressure! But they will be easier to prepare the more you make them.


Meal Planning Step #3 – Plan Ahead


Obviously, creating a meal plan insinuates that you are doing some PLANNING.


One of the issues I have found with meal planning is that it seems to expect you to plan too far in advance.


I would suggest creating a meal plan for only the time period that you grocery shop for. If you usually buy groceries once a week, then only plan out a week’s worth of meals. If you get groceries for two weeks at a time, then plan ahead for 2 weeks.


Do not plan farther out than 2 weeks. You can’t keep fresh groceries on hand for much more than 2 weeks and your plans may change within that time frame.


Whatever planning period you choose, make sure it works well for your family!


Meal Planning Step #4 – Write it Down


If you write it down, you are more likely to follow through.


Put your weekly meal plan down on paper and talk it through with your spouse or family. Your family can also help you discover any upcoming nights that might be good for a wildcard!


My husband and I talk through our meal plan during our weekly marriage business meeting. He usually always remembers something I forgot and helps me make adjustments.


Once you have your plan written down, post it somewhere in the house where everyone can see. The fridge comes to mind as a good place. Or this cool command center from My Life and Kids.


Meal Planning Step #5 – Prep For Success


Now that you have your meal plan written down and shared with the family, you need to make sure you have all of the ingredients! Make your grocery list and double check that you have everything accounted for.


You can save time here by ordering your groceries online. I use Instacart every Sunday evening and get my groceries delivered while I spend more time with Kinsley or fold mountains of laundry. Multi-tasking at its finest.



Be sure to factor in any meal delivery services that you subscribe to, like Sunbasket, so that you don’t have to grocery shop for those meals.


Prep anything that you can beforehand- but this is just a bonus step for the highly organized. Which I am not.


If you need a template to help you get started, download this free Meal Planning Guide to walk you through all the steps and get ready for your stress-free dinner times!


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  1. I honestly still don’t get it how people make meal planning work. I’ve been trying to do it for about six months now and it’s always a mess!

    1. I just give myself lots of grace! Because who doesn’t love a breakfast for dinner night!

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