In todays post I am going to be sharing my top 10 beginner meal planning tips for busy families.
Now, I’m no expert but I am pretty good at this meal planning thing.
I have always planned our family meals.
The benefits are definitely felt by us when I don’t as we end up spending tons on takeaways or mid-week shop trips.
Also, I love knowing what I’m going to eat throughout the week and getting excited about the food I’m eating.
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How to meal plan?
Firstly, I want to get across how beneficial meal planning can be for you.
It saves time when you go grocery shopping and know exactly what you need to get, but also in the kitchen if you know in advance what you need to prep and cook.
You’re also going to save money when you know what to cook and have all the ingredients as you’re less likely to give up and order take-out.
Mid-week grocery trips will stop too.
You know, the ones where you go in for chickpeas and chopped tomatoes and come out with crisps, doughnuts, a new notepad, and £20 worth of cute clothes for the kids!
So, my 10 top tips are listed below, make sure to read on as I go into more detail in the rest of this post.
- Do a stock check
- Stay simple and easy
- Search for inspiration
- Subscribe for recipes
- Stick with your schedule
- Plan for emergencies
- Eat food you enjoy
- Write it all down
- Buy food in bulk
- It’s okay to fail
Do a stock check
Before you even think about planning meals you need to know what food you’ve already got in the house, and more specifically, what food you’ve already got in the house that is about to go past its use by date.
You then use this food to build the basics of your meal plan to reduce your food waste and save money.
Sounds simple, right?
There are apps that allow you to enter the ingredients you have in your cupboards and they build you a recipe around that ingredient.
You literally have to do none of the planning!
To get started check out our kitchen planner printable – you can get this as part of the Ultimate Food Planner Bundle when you subscribe.
Stay simple and easy
Meal planning for a busy family is simple
When I say that it’s that simple, IT REALLY IS.
Meal planning is basically choosing 7 meals that you and your family all love and buying the ingredients for those 7 meals.
Most people fail because they struggle with recipe inspiration or think that because they’re meal planning they have to cook extravagant home-cooked meals from scratch every night.
This is particularly true for a family trying to eat a plant-based diet.
But plant-based junk food exists, and let me tell you – some of it is really good
Keep it simple.
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel.
If your family enjoys burgers, pizza and pasta then have those things.
If you have the time and will to experiment in the kitchen then that’s great, if not then don’t.
RELATED: Chickpea Enchillada Recipe
Search for inspiration
Diamonds aren’t a girl’s best friend, Pinterest is!
I love Pinterest and could spend hours on there searching for recipes, clothes and home décor ideas.
If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, it’s a search engine but instead of words, you get pictures (see the screenshot of my Pinterest below).
Like with most of the internet Pinterest is a bit freaky.
It gets to know you and remembers what you’ve looked at so that when you log in you’re met with tons of pins that directly relate to what you’ve already searched for.
Great for some recipe inspiration when you’re a bit lost on what to make though.
Subscribe to get recipes
Be lazy and let the recipes come to you!
There are so many food blogs out on the world wide web.
All of them have tons of recipes and will send them all directly to your email if you subscribe to their content.
You can subscribe with us here and receive a free Ultimate Meal Planning Bundle.
You’ll also get an email every month with all of my latest recipes, hints and tips and what’s new with me.
Keep your schedule in mind
If you work until 6 on a Monday or your kids have 3 afterschool classes and a playdate then plan a meal that can be chucked in the oven and ready in 15-20 minutes.
There is no point in planning a meal that relies on you being able to stand and cook for 20 minutes if you don’t have that time.
You’re just setting yourself up to fail.
Even if you don’t have time Monday – Friday then rely on your freezer for those 5 days and cook something amazing on the weekend
Being a parent is hard enough without you trying to become a gourmet chef every night of the week too.
Plan for emergencies
There are times when, even with the best will in the world, you will be unprepared with your meal planning.
You may think you have tons of time one evening to cook and then you have to stay late at work, or your kid forgets they needed to be somewhere.
These things happen and it’s a great idea to have a well stocked kitchen for these occasions.
Being able to grab some bread and ready prepped mushrooms out of the freezer to stick with some beans will stop you from having to spend money on take-outs and fast food.
No, it isn’t the healthiest meal but it’s healthier (and cheaper) than a take-out.
Eat the food you enjoy
This sounds so simple but it has to be said.
If you don’t like something – don’t plan a meal around it!
Maybe if you have some time to experiment in the kitchen you may want to try adding something you never previously liked because our tastes do change.
I hated chickpeas until about a month ago … now, give me falafel and houmous any day!
Just have a backup plan.
However, if you don’t have time to start cooking with the risk of needing to make something else if everyone in the house hates it then just eat what you know you like.
Write a list
Even if you could remember the meals you want to cook it’s unlikely you’ll remember all of the ingredients to go in them so write it all down.
Going grocery shopping prepared with what you need, how much you need and what it should cost will save you so much time and money because you have a plan
To get started check out our grocery planning printable – you can get this as part of the Ultimate Food Planner Bundle when you subscribe.
Buy food in bulk
There are certain items that you use every week and these are the ones you should be buying in bulk.
Getting a huge bag of pasta, rice or chickpeas is going to work out more cost effective than buying small bags every time you go shopping.
It’s just common sense.
I buy all of my pasta, couscous, rice and chickpeas in huge bags that I store under the stairs then I have some pretty mason jars from Ikea (but you can get them here if you’re not close to an Ikea store) to store some in the kitchen so I’m not having to go get a portion every time I’m cooking.
It’s okay to change your mind
Nobody is perfect … and … do you know what, you work hard.
You deserve a treat!
If you planned a meal but you really can’t be bothered and you’ve been craving a take-out for days just do it.
Don’t beat yourself up over it.
Enjoy your take-out while thinking about how what you have planned for lunch and dinner tomorrow.
Click the pin image below to save this post in the organisation series for later.
Do you have any meal planning tips? Start a conversation in the comments section below.
Have a great week and I’ll see you next time.