Meal Planning Tips for Busy People
If meal planning sounds like a great idea but you just don’t see how you can fit it into your busy schedule, check out these tips to help you get started. I know that as women, some of us homeschool mamas, are often so busy that we have made it that our dinners are 30-minute meals. Oh, wait, that’s just me! It seems that I have made it my mission to make dinner as quickly as I can and sometimes that means it might not be as healthy as I would like. Being busy can definitely get in the way of cooking every meal from scratch, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to eat more homemade food.
Plan on Designated Cooking Days
There’s nothing worse than trying to cook when you don’t have all the ingredients or when you have to rush through it to meet other obligations. Commit to setting aside a day or two that’s specifically designated for cooking.
This might be an entire day like over the weekend when you have more time, or 2-3 nights when your schedule has a little room for moving things around. This is new for me as well. I am trying to make this more of a reality here because I see the benefit of these designated days.
Don’t worry about the other days, and just focus on cooking these days when you know you have a bit more time. AND don’t worry if it takes longer than you thought in getting this into a routine. Remember, it takes 21 days to break a habit and 30 days to create a new one!
Make it Easier for Yourself
Make cooking as easy as possible before you even begin. Start doing some prep and planning before the cooking day arrives. Plan everything when you go grocery shopping, and try to shop just once a week. Do any prep you can before cooking, like rinsing and chopping vegetables, pre-measuring ingredients, thawing meat, and anything else that needs to be done. That way, even with a busy schedule, you have already cut your cooking time in half.
This is one thing that makes me excited that I can excel at this. If I can remember to take the meat out earlier in the day then I won’t rush around trying to make my 30-minute meal. And this is one area that I plan on incorporating once I come home from the grocery store. This way all of the meat will most likely already be thawed, making one less thing I have to worry about in the long run.
Intentionally Cook Enough for Leftovers
To start cooking more at home, try to cook enough for leftovers. Even if right now you only have 1-2 nights a week with enough spare time to cook a meal, just double the recipe or make a recipe you know will have enough for leftovers. This might be a casserole, slow cooker meal, soup or chili, where you always have enough leftovers.
That way, you are eating more home cooked meals, but don’t spend as much time doing the cooking. It is a great way to either have more meals for lunches and dinners throughout the week, or to start stocking up on freezer meals for those nights where you just don’t have the time to cook.
I’m thinking that this will be the most doable for me. I have the tendency to use “the big pot” when I’m cooking so that usually means lots of leftovers for us. Sometimes it means leftovers for days! Don’t ask me how this happened because it was only ever 5 of us at the table when my oldest son still lived here. I have always cooked like I was feeding an army!
Here are a few easy recipes to get you started. Just make two – eat one now and freeze the other for later!
Crock Pot Potato Soup by Mama’s Coffee Shop
Crock Pot Chicken Taco Soup by Mama’s Coffee Shop
Chicken n Rice Casserole by Mama’s Coffee Shop
Healthier Taco Casserole by Sweet Peas and Saffron
Homemade Chicken Pot Pie by Happy Money Saver
Make Ahead Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches by The Cozy Cook
Instant Pot Chili by Recipes From A Pantry
Beef Noodle Casserole by Dinner at The Zoo
Get Help in the Kitchen
Let your kids help! The homeschool mama in me LOVES this tip! Math, science, home economics, diligence, planning, stewardship, life skills, and so much more happens when working in the kitchen. Get those kiddos involved with everything, if they are age appropriate of course, they can even set the table. As an aside though, I had my kids start early in the kitchen, like 3 and 4 years old. They washed veggies, dried them off, grabbed bowls, threw stuff away, opened cans, separated veggies, put things in the bowls, even washes some dishes. They CAN help. And oftentimes, they WANT to help!
When they keep coming into the kitchen to ask if dinner is ready not, why not put them to work? Every little task that you can get help with by other household members is one less thing you need to find time for yourself.
With these tips and The Ultimate Meal Planner, found HERE, this seems like child’s play when planning your upcoming meals. I hope you are successful in implementing these tips and that you can become so un-busy that you find more time to enjoy your sweet family.
In His Grace,