Ready to plan meals like a pro? This Lazy Mom’s Guide to meal planning will get your weekly meals all set in just 10 minutes/week! This is a practical system for busy moms who don’t have any extra time to fuss around with complicated and time-consuming ideas.
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First of all, this lazy mom’s guide is not necessarily for lazy moms! No offense here! I’m a super busy mom (I know you are too) and when it comes to sitting down and spending a lot of time planning meals, I am absolutely lazy! I like things easy, practical and time-saving, don’t you?
I don’t have time to look for recipes online or in recipe books. To be honest, I have 3 recipe books and I never look at them! LOL I’m the kids of mom who stares at the pantry and at the refrigerator for 2 minutes before I come up with my meal ideas.
With super picky kids, plan meals is a little challenging around here.
3 Reasons Why You Should Plan Meals in Advance Even When You Don’t Feel like It:
Plan meals to save you time!
Have you ever stare at the refrigerator for 5 minutes totally brainless not even knowing what you are looking for until you realize – oops! There is nothing here to make for dinner? Yep! That’s me without planning my meals for the week.
Then I panic thinking “What am I going to do?” while my husband walks through the door after a whole day of work saying “Hi, love! I’m so hungry! What’s for dinner?”
Whaaaat?? Is dinner time already?? (of course, I know it is, right?) Hehehe… You will understand how it saves me time when I explain to you how I plan meals for the week here.
2 – Plan meals to save money!
So remember that moment you stared at the refrigerator and had nothing to cook for dinner? Then you will end up doing two things:
1 – You will call your husband so pick up some pizza or Chinese take out on the way (my two favorites!) or…
2 – You will ask him to go to the supermarket and pick up a few things for you which always end up being a few other things more just because it was on “sale” or because he was starving while going shopping and though “anyways, dinner will be ready at 9pm so I better buy a few snacks to eat on the way”.
Am I not saying the truth?
3 – Plan meals to eat healthier!
I truly believe that no matter how busy you think you are, you can and should always make health your priority. Eating healthy will also save you time and money later on, ask a mom or a dad who battle cancer for a year or so and had to stop working while having tens of thousands of medical bills coming in!
I’m a cancer survivor and I have an autoimmune disease so eating junk makes me feel like junk, not to use another word here. I’m at my best and the most productive when I’m taking care of myself and my family.
Also, keeping a healthier lifestyle, nourishing your family with proper nutrition will help prevent them from being sick! There is nothing worse than having our little ones feeling miserable stuck in a cycle of sickness and misery. You can read more about how I stop that cycle of sickness in my family once and for all here.
If you plan meals weekly, you will be able to make sure you are adding enough fruits and vegetables to your family’s menu. My secrets to adding enough fruits and veggies into my kids are smoothies, salads, soups and Juice Plus+ – a whole food supplement that adds 35 fruits and veggies a day into my picky eaters’ bodies.
My 3 Secrets To Plan Meals Like A Pro:
Don’t look at recipe books!
Use what you already have!
Create a loop menu!
I’m Going to Explain to You Exactly How I Plan Meals Step by Step Every Week:
STEP 1: Download and print your printable menu and inventory lists.
STEP 2: Using the printable, start your quick the inventory. I normally do this on Saturday or Sunday night and it only takes me 5-10 minutes!
STEP 3: List all the main ingredients you have in your pantry to make meals.
This will include your dry foods (rice, quinoa, pasta, cereal, pancake mix, etc), your cans (tuna, tomato sauce, coconut milk, chickpeas, beans, etc), your potatoes, carrots, onions and whatever else you keep in your pantry.
STEP 4: List all the main ingredients you have in your freezer and refrigerator.
Normally, I start with all the meats in my freezer, frozen vegetables, etc. Then I list all the main ingredients I have in my fridge like cheese, pesto, eggs, vegetables, etc.
STEP 5: Once I have these lists made, I start pairing up ingredients in my head to make meals.
For example, I know I have ground beef, cheese, GF lasagna so I can make a nice lasagna for dinner on Monday night. I also have salmon, potatoes, asparagus, and carrots for another dinner. And so you go!
STEP 6: Once I have a list of ideas I start filling in my What’s On The Menu page.
It takes me less than 5 minutes doing my inventory and less than 5 minutes to write down my meal ideas.
- Double your recipe every time you cook so you can freeze a full meal for the following week! 😉
- If you love smoothies in the morning like I do, prep your smoothies by freezing your greens and fruits together in small sandwich size zip lock bags, then in the morning all you need to do is to add the milk and blend it!
- Make batches of healthy muffins and freeze for breakfast and snacks is really helpful too!
- If you have an Instant Pot you can cook a big pot of rice, separate into portions and freeze it in ziplock bags for weeks!
SUPER TIP! If don’t have an Instant Pot yet – BUY ONE NOW!! I’m serious!! This baby saves you tons of time in the kitchen. I LOVE my Instant Pot! All my meals are ready in 15-30 minutes total.
How Can Loop Menus Help You Plan Meals?
I love using loop schedules!! It is so easy and handy to help you with your cleaning, homeschool, daily tasks, and even to plan meals!
Here is how simple it is! List your favorite meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and make sure you keep the ingredients you always use in your pantry and refrigerator. Rotate them during the week!
I write down my family’s favorite meals in the back of the planner I keep over the kitchen’s counter to keep things simple in our house. When I need ideas, that’s where I go to. Very rarely I look into cookbooks, to be honest with you.
I followed a link from a post of your at the conference. You mentioned canning whole meals. Do you have any resources on this topic or a direction to point?
I don’t! I need to create something. A few weeks ago I had some friends over and taught them to can beef stew and chicken soup, it was so fun! There are lots of videos on YouTube!
Great print out Ana. A lot of great tips here!
Thanks, Ana. I struggle with meal planning and usually end up not doing it, and I have been married for twenty-seven years! It becomes too complicated, and often my husband doesn’t feel like eating what I am making and wants something else. I have a lot of picky eaters, too. So many times, I or one of my daughter’s are preparing a meal, and we end up sending someone to the store to buy a missing ingredients-so frustrating and time wasting! How do you do your shopping then-do you just add ingredients to your shopping list when you use it up, or what?
Jeanetta, I have picky eaters too, so I know how it feels! I plan my meals around the ingredients I already have and if I need anything for the meals I don’t have it, I send my husband to the store to buy only those ingredients. Knowing exactly what I’m cooking save us money because we don’t anything extra that will just sit in the pantry.
Keep it simple! And give this a try. 🙂 I would love to hear how it goes.
I definitely need to meal plan more. This is something I will be working on in 2018. Thanks for sharing your tips!
Inventory! That’s where I’ve been falling flat. Thanks for the reminder!
Oh, that’s definitely going to make a big difference from now on! What I love about this system and why it works for me is that we got to use what we have already and that saves us time and money. 😉
I’m super excited to give this a try. I find myself spending too much time and money on food b/c I wait until an hour before dinner is suppose to be ready & then running to the store for 1 or 2 items. This, of course, leads to the purchase of a ton of sale items that aren’t on my list but my family uses none the less.
Yes!! You will love it! We are including this system in our new 2018 planner too!! All in one place. 😀 Make sure you check it out, we’re launching it tonight at our Facebook party!
Your printables make taking the inventory easier. Thanks.
i got an instant pot last year and still don’t feel like I’ve tapped its potential. Or maybe I just don’t like food that’s been braised/boiled very much…
Rachel, I don’t cook a day without it! So handy! Give it a try and you will be hooked. 😉
Here is a FB live I did last week teaching how I make the most delicious flavored rice in the Instant Pot: https://www.facebook.com/theycallmeblessedblog/videos/1757722767864514/
I like the suggestions and examples you provided, especially the idea of listing what’s on hand. I need to start meal planning for the week and I’m not there yet!!
Jennifer, give this a try. This is really the only way I can meal plan, everything else I find out there is too complicated. 😉 Let me know what you think after you do it.
Hey, these are pretty nice tips .
I actually think it’s a great, underused idea to list what u already have. Hey , my Mom keeps rebuying stuff she has already and it costs her more when she needed something else to create something to eat.
Good to combine similar things u already have to more variations of foods to simplify your life but still having variety.
It’s also wonderful you found Jesus, as did I.
It’s nice u have a cool paypal contest, very generous of you!
I usually do my meal planning in the grocery store, depending on what’s on sale that week. (I’m pretty lazy, but like to eat well, for as little $ as possible!)
Great tips, thanks.
You’re welcome, Nicole!
I have tried to subscribe multiple times and still have not received an email would you please help me?
I have emailed you the file, Christina! 🙂
Please let me know you have received it.
Love this so much! I never thought about starting with a pantry inventory for meal planning. How often do you buy something and then NEVER EVER use it??? Before you know it, it’s expired and all that money is down the drain. I also know I definitely need to make better use of the freezer. Now that I have an infant, time is such a precious commodity and we have been eating more processed/ready-made foods than I care to admit lately! I’m hopeful these tips can help me get back on track. I’m pretty sure my Instant Pot has some dust on the lid…Time to change that!!!!!
Oh Kristi, my thoughts exactly! Why go out and buy more things when we can use what we have. It’s so much easier and cheap to plan meals the lazy way. 😉
Oh and quick question about the smoothie prep tip…it doesn’t kill the greens to get frozen like that? I’ve always been afraid to freeze them.
Not at all! Freezing it keeps from getting bad. 😉
I find I either need to be on the ball with meal planning or have my freezer well stocked with freezer meals. I’m a big fan of batch prep for the freezer!
I agree, Alison! Making big batches is the key. If you are going to dirt the pots anyways, just double the recipe, right? 😉
Hey! Stopping by from #MMBH. This is an AWESOME post… I’m going to be stealing some tips, thanks so much for sharing! I’ve never heard of an Instant Pot before! 🙂 Have a great day!
I’m so glad you stopped by, Denise!!! And oh you need to get an Instant Pot, girl! Best investment in my kitchen last year. Dinners are ready in 15-30 minutes effortless. It also keeps more nutrients in your food so it’s much healthier to cook on. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!!
I love meal prepping! Great tips here. Thanks so much for linking up at #familyfriday we appreciate it! We hope you come back next week.
Thank you so much, Jen! We have to be practical, right? 😉
hmm… could work. 🙂