I have never been the type to plan up a month’s worth of meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I just cannot determine the exact foods we will be eating at every single meal. I work in a different way. I do plan meals for the month but in more of a general and simpler way.
I have a Master Grocery List that rarely changes and I stick to it, month after month. However, the ingredients I bring into my home every month are quite versatile, simple though they may be.
Because of the simplicity of my Master Grocery List, I am able to have a Simple Menu Plan on which to build our meals. Though I have a general idea of what we’ll be eating each day, it is easy to change things as needed as long as I have my main ingredients on hand.
Routine and flexibility play a huge role in keeping our home running, and that includes meal planning! So, I am sharing how I keep meal planning simple, yet interesting.
What I Do To Simplify Meal Planning
Take time to prepare for the week ahead – on the weekend, I make a big Instant Pot of pinto beans. We store these in the fridge and use them for homemade burritos throughout the week. Depending on what kind of foods your family likes, you can do the same! Meat broth, chicken breasts, all types of beans, etc. are things that can be slow cooked in bulk to be used throughout the week ahead.
Take time to prepare for the next day – every evening I make a batch of hard-steamed eggs to be eaten the next day. Often they are eaten for breakfast, but sometimes saved for lunch. We eat them plain, topped with mustard, sprinkled with salt & pepper, or as egg salad for lunch. Add fruit and toast and you have a great breakfast!
Keep things simple – it may not be Pinterest-worthy, but we keep breakfast and lunch very simple here! We often eat meat, cheese, and dried fruit for lunch on days that we don’t eat homemade bean burritos. Another quick & easy breakfast is oatmeal. We rotate oatmeal with fruit/toast to have along with the hard-boiled eggs.
Stock Up – on the things you KNOW your kids love. A big bag of carrots, apples, dried seaweed, and almonds are things our kids love, so we keep them in bulk for them to grab as snacks. Having just a few favorites on hand makes more sense than several things that may or may not get eaten.
Awesome Meal Plan Resources
Knock Knock What to Eat Pad (Yellow)Dry Erase Meal Planner Calendar – 14.5bloom daily planners Weekly Magnetic Meal and Grocery Planning Pad Perforated Tear Off To Do Pad with Magnets – 8.5Knock Knock What to Eat Pad (Mint Green)Meal Planning Bundle for the Mini Happy Planner, 6 Month Supply, 4.265LIFT Certified BPA-Free Reusable Microwavable Meal Prep Containers with Lids, 28-Ounce, 7 Pack (Includes Ebook)Decorative Menu Chalkboard | Beautiful Chalkboard Menu Planner | Kitchen Chalkboard Menu | 14” x 16” | Charcoal Black | Vinyl Waterproof Removable Repositionable by Rumala & Co
More Ways To Simplify Meal Planning
- Think Simple
During the season of young children, homeschooling, pregnancies, and newborns you will want to simplify meal planning and keep meals simple and nourishing. Choose several of your family’s favorite meals and rotate them throughout the weeks and months. Don’t feel bad when your meal plan repeats itself every week rather than having 30 different meals each month!
- Use A Theme
One way to keep things interesting is to come up with a theme for your meals. For example Mexican, Asian, German, American, Italian. Or simply pizza night, loaded baked potato night, soup night, grill night, salad night (green salad with meat, taco salad, pasta salad, etc.), bean/chili night, meatless night, etc. The themes are only as limited as your imagination (ask your children for ideas).
- Protein Source
Having protein planned for the week or month is a huge relief and you are not left wondering if you have a proper protein source. You can assign certain types of meat to each night so that you easily know what to defrost beforehand. Then you can add whichever sides you want. If you are on a budget, it is helpful to buy meat in bulk. Ground beef and chicken are great options and can be very versatile.
- Spontaneous Planning
Write a list of meal ideas out and then simply choose from your list every morning and defrost the meat needed. In this way, you can have a master grocery list that you know will cover your meal plan each week or month, so that grocery shopping does not take much thought. This is a great way to “plan” without actually sticking to a specific plan. Perfect for those who like to be a little spontaneous.
- Plan For Crazy Days
Being prepared will simplify meal planning even on those crazy nights. Some ways to be prepared is by making up some freezer meals, having some store-bought quick foods on hand (not very healthy, but still cheaper than take-out), or by making breakfast for dinner.
Find what works for you, your family, and your life. I am all for customizing a routine to flow with your everyday life.
In what ways do you simplify meal planning?