Some moms spend their weekends planning the menu for the upcoming week and thrive on it. If that’s not you, are you destined to unhealthy meals and meal planning failure? Absolutely not! There are many ways to meal plan successfully and healthfully. Keeping your style and preference in mind is key to long term success.
1. The All-In Meal Planner
Yup, you know the kind, and you may want to be one. This mom has 3 kinds of soup in the freezer, makes double portions of everything, has a schedule laid out, and preps 3-5 entrees on the weekend. Is this your goal? Find 5-10 easily freezable meals and carve out some time on the weekend for advanced prep. Veggie lasagna, turkey burgers, lentil soup, meatballs, spinach pie, and enchilada casserole can all fit the bill. Check out some easy-to-freeze recipes here.
Healthy tip: While whipping up casseroles, don’t forget the side veggies and fruit! Serve with salad, steamed or roasted vegetables, and serve some fruit while it’s heating up.
2. Days of the Week Meal Planner
This style can make meal planning so easy, and kids love repetition. For example, Monday is chicken, Tuesday is tacos (with the leftover chicken), Wednesday is pasta (try whole grain, add veggies, lean protein, and sauce), Thursday is vegetarian, and Friday is pizza (try on whole grain pita bread). Need some recipes to get started? Click here.
Healthy tip: Just like the tip above, don’t make veggies the afterthought. Serve with salad or your favorite raw veggies like sugar snap peas or carrots.
3. Cycle Menu Meal Planner
Have you ever created your “Go-To-10”? This is one of my favorite meal planning tips. Seasonally, create a list of your family’s favorite 10 meals. For example, in summer, grilled chicken Souvlaki might be on my list, but chili is a favorite in the winter. Get the kids involved and modify as you need to keep nutrition in mind. If your kids say mac and cheese, incorporate your favorite healthy recipe like this and serve with veggies and fruit. Then every 2 weeks, you cycle through again. Need more variety?
Healthy tip: Make small changes. Chicken tacos can become chicken burritos or fish tacos. Speaking of tacos, here are 36 healthy taco recipes!
4. I Hate Meal Planning, But I Stock Up
Meal planner might be a stretch. This style is more like prepared-for-meals, but it works! Don’t like to meal plan? You don’t have to force prepping ahead of time. Just make sure you buy foods at the store that make your 30 minute or less dinner prep a cinch, like easy to prepare salad veggies (maybe already prepped if it fits your budget), eggs, beans (canned or vacuum-packed pre-cooked lentils make a super-fast meal), yogurt, proteins that can be in your refrigerator for several days like chicken, 93% lean ground beef, or tofu and quick to prepare side dishes like pre-cut butternut squash you can roast with little prep or quinoa, which cooks in just 15 minutes.
Healthy tip: No time or desire to cook? A veggie omelet with some fruit plus some milk for the kids is a great well-balanced dinner!