Busy moms know how hard it can be to find the time to make healthy homemade meals for your family. That’s why meal planning is a necessity! It can be tough to find the time to cook dinner after a long day at work, but with a little bit of planning, it’s definitely doable. That’s why I’ve created an easy-to-follow meal plan for busy moms and rounded up simple, yet delicious recipes that can be made in a hurry.
As a working mom, I dread the question “What’s for dinner?” That’s the last thing I want to hear after a long day of work. But my family needs to eat and eating out every day was getting expensive. It was also not as nutritious as I wanted for my kids.
Over time, I learned some strategies that helped me plan and prep our meals in advance. This was a lifesaver, not only reducing our food costs but also decreasing the time and energy I spend thinking about what to make for dinner.
I created this guide from my own experience can help you ensure your families are eating healthy, nutritious meals even during a busy week. Plus, it provides tips on how to save time in the kitchen and make mealtime less stressful.
And don’t forget to grab the Ultimate Meal Planner Bundle for busy moms, which includes our top hacks and printables for meal planning, so that you stop over- shopping for groceries, know what your family is going to eat every day, and finally track and maintain a healthy lifestyle!
Benefits of Meal Planning
As a busy mom, you are constantly juggling a million different things. You’re trying to balance your job, your family, and your own personal life. And somewhere in there, you’re supposed to find time to cook a healthy meal for your family. It can seem impossible!
But there’s one simple thing you can do that will make your life a lot easier: meal planning.
Meal planning may seem like an extra step that you don’t have time for, but there are actually a lot of benefits:
- It will save you time in the long run. By taking some time to plan out your meals ahead of time, you can avoid the last-minute scramble to figure out what to make for dinner.
- You can ensure your family will have healthy, nutritious meals. When you meal plan, you can make sure you’re incorporating a variety of foods into your family’s diet.
- You can save money. When you have a plan for what you’re going to make each week, you’re less likely to end up with expensive take-out or impulse purchases at the grocery store.
- Meal planning is also beneficial for weight loss. If you’re trying to watch your weight, meal planning can help you stay on track by making sure you’re eating the right foods in the right portions.
Overall, meal planning is a great way to save time and money, while also making sure your family is eating healthy. So if you’re a busy mom, make meal planning a priority!
7 Meal Planning Tips for Busy Moms
If you’re new to meal planning, it can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few simple tips to get you started:
1. Make a master list of quick and easy recipes.
Keep it simple. Don’t try to make fancy meals every night. Stick with easy-to-make recipes that can be put together quickly. As you try out new recipes, create a recipe bank of the ones that can be made quickly and easily, and the ones that are a hit with your family. That way, when you’re short on time, you’ll know exactly which simple meals you can turn to.
2. Repurpose leftovers or make extra servings for future meals.
Instead of eating out every meal, cook once and eat twice by using leftovers for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For example, if you make rice for dinner, add it to a stir fry with some veggies for tomorrow’s lunch. Or, if you’re cooking pasta for dinner, make a double batch and freeze the extra for another night. This leads to a lot less food waste and helps you save time on your next meal.
3. Schedule time for meal planning and prep work.
Make meal planning and prepping a part of your weekly routine by setting aside a few hours each week to get it done. Because you’ll likely be busy working on weekdays, weekends are a good time to prepare meals or cook in bulk. Doing this will help you stay on track until meal prepping becomes a habit.
4. Get the whole family involved in meal preparation.
It’s a good idea to get your family on the same page by involving them in meal planning and cooking. Ask your family for input on what their favorite meals are, or what type of foods they’re in the mood for. You can also ask your kids to help you come up with dinner ideas or have them help with the cooking. This is a great way to teach them about healthy eating, and it’s also a fun bonding activity.
5. Take advantage of convenience foods like frozen fruits and vegetables.
While fresh fruits and vegetables are preferable, frozen ones are a close second and can save you a lot of time in the kitchen. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh ones, and they can be used in a variety of recipes. So next time you’re grocery shopping, stock up on some frozen goods to make meal prep easier.
6. Make themed dinner nights.
Designate certain nights for specific themes, such as meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, or pizza night. This will make meal planning a lot easier because you’ll only have to come up with recipes that fit the theme. Plus, your family will start to look forward to their favorite themed dinners.
7. Use a meal planning service.
For busy seasons when meal prepping is especially tough, invest in a healthy meal planning service like The Scramble or eMeals. These services do all the hard work for you by creating grocery shopping lists and coming up with new recipes each week. This can be a lifesaver when you’re short on time and energy.
Following these tips will help you make healthy and quick meals for your family, even during your busiest weeks.
Best Time-Saving Kitchen Gadgets for Meal Prepping
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There are tons of helpful kitchen gadgets that can make meal prep easier and faster. Some of our favorites include:
- Slow cooker. A slow cooker is a working mom’s best friend! You can throw all of your ingredients in the pot in the morning, and by the time you get home from work, dinner will be ready. There are tons of great slow-cooker meal recipes online, so you’re sure to find one that your family will love.
- Food processor. A food processor can be a huge time saver when it comes to meal prep. It can be used to chop vegetables, make sauces, and even cook entire meals. If you don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen, a food processor is a must-have appliance.
- Instant pot. An instant pot is another great time-saving kitchen gadget. It can be used for a variety of tasks, including cooking rice, making soups, and even steaming vegetables. If you’re looking for a one-pot meal solution, an instant pot is the way to go.
- Veggie spiralizer. A veggie spiralizer is a great way to add more veggies to your diet. It can be used to turn vegetables into noodles, which makes for a quick and healthy meal. Spiralized vegetables can also be used as toppings for salads or as a healthy alternative to pasta.
- Air fryer. An air fryer is a great way to make fast, healthy meals. You can use it to cook chicken, fish, vegetables, and even French fries. Air-fried food is typically lower in fat than food that’s been fried in oil, so it’s a healthier option as well.
Meal prepping doesn’t have to be time-consuming. There are tons of other great kitchen gadgets that can make meal prep easier, but these are just a few of our favorites. With a little bit of help from technology, you’ll be able to get dinner on the table in no time.
Grocery List Essentials
There are some essentials that should be on every working mom’s grocery list because they make meal prep easier.
Here are a few items that you should always have on hand:
- Frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables including: broccoli, cauliflower, peas, carrots, spinach, berries
- Canned beans including: black beans, chickpeas, lentils
- Whole grain pasta and bread
- White or brown rice
- Chicken or veggie stock
- Sliced deli meats and cheese
- Easy protein options including rotisserie chicken, ground beef, canned tuna, and pre-cooked shrimp
- Healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds, fruit, veggie sticks, and yogurt
- Olive oil or cooking spray
- Spreads including: mayonnaise, butter, ketchup, and mustard
- Dressings including: apple cider, balsamic, and red wine vinegars
- Salt and pepper
- Herbs and spices including: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano and cumin
By keeping these items in your pantry, you’ll always have something to make for dinner, even when you’re short on time. Plus, they’re all healthy options that will help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day. So next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to pick up these essentials.
Sample Meal Plan for Busy Moms (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
Below is a sample weekly meal plan for busy moms. Use it as inspiration to create your own meal plan for each day of the week:
Breakfast: Overnight oats with fruit and nuts
Lunch: Tuna salad sandwiches on whole wheat bread
Dinner: One pot pesto chicken pasta with a side of green beans
Breakfast: Egg muffins with fresh fruit
Lunch: Turkey and cheese roll-ups with a side of grapes
Dinner: Instant pot beef or turkey chili with cornbread muffins
Breakfast: Yogurt parfait with granola and berries
Lunch: Leftover pesto chicken pasta
Dinner: Chicken stir-fry over rice noodles
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with toast and avocado
Lunch: Turkey and cheese sandwiches with a side of tomato soup
Dinner: Slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches on whole wheat buns with a side of sweet potatoes
Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas and honey
Lunch: Leftover chicken stir-fry
Dinner: Sheet pan chicken fajitas with a side of black beans
Breakfast: Banana pancakes and fresh fruit
Lunch: Spaghetti and meatballs with a garden salad
Dinner: Roasted salmon with mashed potatoes and broccoli
Breakfast: Leftover egg muffins with turkey bacon
Lunch: Turkey burgers with sweet potato fries
You can use many of the ingredients in multiple meals. For example, on Sunday, you can meal prep a rotisserie chicken, roasted veggies, a large garden salad, and a large batch of rice to use in recipes during the week.
Last Word on Busy Mom Meal Plans
Meal prepping can help you save time and money, and help you avoid unhealthy fast food options on busy weeknights. So be sure to give meal planning a try and see how it works for you and your family.
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For more resources for busy moms, check out:
- The Ultimate Guide to Time Management for Working Moms
- 9 Top Planners for Working Moms
- How to Create a Realistic Cleaning Schedule for Working Moms [Printable]