You’ve had a busy day in work, done the school run, juggled the kids’ activities in the evening and now you have hungry mouths to feed…does this sound like your evenings in the week? Do you often have to scramble through your cupboards and fridge to find what you’re going to throw together for dinner each night? With meal planning, it’s possible to take the stress out of food and to make dinner time a well-oiled machine. Here is everything you need to know when it comes to meal planning for busy families.
The benefits of meal planning
Taking the time to plan your meals for the week may seem like a lot of work but when you see the benefits it offers, the effort is more than worth it.
- Helps you organise your food shopping and meals for the week which ultimately saves you a lot of time and energy.
- Takes the guess-work out of what you’re cooking each night which makes dinner time more efficient and stress-free.
- Makes food shopping a breeze and saves you money as you will only buy what you have planned to make.
Meal planning for busy families (7 steps!)
Trust us when we say, when you begin meal planning and you have more time together as a family in the evenings, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner and you’ll never go back! To help you easily implement meal planning into your routine, here are the 7 steps you need to take:
1. Make a list of the meals your family loves
This part is the easiest as you know what your family enjoys eating! The first step of meal planning for busy families is to write down as many meals as you can (about 30-40) and add to this list as you go along.
2. Write down what meals you will have on what days
Look at your weekly calendar and assign a meal to each day of the week (e.g. Monday – Spaghetti with Garlic Bread, Tuesday – Chicken and Rice etc). Your family may love to have pizza Fridays or pasta Mondays. If this is the case, that helps to cut down on your weekly planning!
3. Plan for leftovers or group similar meals together
Another massive time-saving tip when it comes to meal planning for busy families is to make enough that there will be leftovers. These leftovers can be for lunch the next day or, if you’re grouping meals with the same ingredients (e.g. Grilled Chicken on a Monday and Chicken Curry on a Tuesday), then you can use the leftovers to cook the next dish that you’ve planned for dinner. This saves you time, energy, and money!
4. Write a shopping list of all the ingredients you need
While meal planning, write down every ingredient you will need to make every meal including sides, seasonings, and sauces. Be thorough as you don’t want to come home after a busy day and realise that you don’t have what you need for that night.
5. Check what you have at home first
A big money-saving tip is to check if you have any of these ingredients at home first. Go through your fridge, freezer, and cupboards to cross off anything that you already have off your shopping list.
6. See what deals are on and if you have any coupons
You may not need anything that is currently on offer but if it is on your list, consider buying more of it while it’s on sale and making at an extra portion to freeze for an extra busy day!
7. Organise or batch cook the meals for the week right when you get home
This step will depend on what you prefer and how busy your week is, but the most important thing to note is to organise the ingredients you just bought right when you get home. If that means separating them into piles in the fridge for each meal so that they don’t get used for anything else, then perfect. If you know that Monday to Thursdays are extremely busy, then consider batch cooking those meals on Sunday and freezing the ingredients that you don’t need until the end of the week so that they don’t go bad.
Make meal planning a part of your family routine
If dinner time is stressful or chaotic in your home, transform your evenings into ones of efficiency and ease! By using these 7 steps for meal planning for busy families, shopping will be a breeze, you will know exactly where you are with food for the whole week, and you’ll have more time with your family. Sounds like a win-win-win to us!