As a pharmacist I have seen a lot of chronic disease over my career. One of the things a value the most is the health of my family. I am HUGELY committed to creating wholesome, healthy meals at home for my family.
The biggest way that I am able to cook real food at home, most of the time, is by being a committed MEAL PLANNER!
Over the years, I have learned a few tips and tricks to make meal planning a bit easier. I’d like to share those with you today!
Top Tips to Meal Plan like a Mother!
1. Set aside time each week.
You don’t need a ton of time for meal planning. I try to pick up groceries once a week. On the night before, I sit down for a half hour or so and work on a meal plan and corresponding grocery list.
If you don’t make the time, you’ll end up at the grocery store every night trying to decide what to put together when you get home!
2. Enlist your family!
Grab your spouse and your kids! Have them pick one night each week that they can pitch in and make the meal or can help with the meal. And let them choose a healthy meal to make (within reason!). I put some parameters around this – “it can’t be a meal from a restaurant or a meal ENTIRELY from a box or bag”. We have a bit of compromise … if they want KD, we settle on homemade mac n’ cheese instead!
Your spouse and kids will be more engaged if they got to pick the meal and help with the meal plan and the grocery list.
They can help with picking the other meal ideas as well … I like to give them options so that I can guide them to healthier choices. For example, ” on Thursday, would you like tacos or spaghetti?”
3. Check your freezer & pantry
Do you ever get home from the grocery store to find that you already have two of those items already in your freezer or pantry?
Yep. Been there!
Take a quick inventory of what you already have on hand when making your meal plan. Use that as inspiration for the upcoming weeks.
You’ve got pork chops in the freezer and potatoes in the pantry? Check out pinterest or your recipe books for some ideas!
4. Stock your pantry
It’s a great idea to always keep the essentials in your pantry, freezer, and fridge so you can always count on having those items on hand when you prepare your next meal. There are a number of items that I like to keep on hand since I regularly add them to our meals:
- canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, beans
- frozen peas, corn, blueberries
- flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch
- soya sauce
- dijon mustard
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar
When I run out of an item, I automatically add it to the list so that I can replenish my stock.
5. Plan for batch cooking.
A great way to help with the meal planning is to plan for cooking in batches or bulk.
Start by planning a couple of meals with the same meat. Cook a whole chicken on Monday. Use the leftover chicken on Tuesday for a quesadilla. Use the chicken carcass to make chicken soup on Wednesday.
Or cook 4 pounds of ground beef & pork one night. Split the ground meat in half. Use half to make chili and the other half to make tacos later this week.
It’s easier to cook at home when you prep once and eat multiple times. This helps cut down on the work so you can use your time for better things!
Hope you enjoyed my tips for meal planning! Please feel free to comment below on all the ways that you have made meal planning easier for your family.