I was shocked when I polled The Mama Notes Community and discovered only 50% of you meal plan!!! I honestly can’t quite wrap my head around how you can feed a family without planning ahead of time! Do you go to the grocery store multiple times a week? Just cook with what you have on hand? Eat out a lot? It seems so stressful to me! But to each their own :)
I got a TON of questions and requests on Instagram about this and I’m going to try and address them all here – but first I’m going to give you a quick overview of how I meal plan. It’s really quite simple.
Here’s what I do not do:
I don’t have a weekly food budget. We aren’t budgeting people like that, I know how much I typically spend at the store every week, but I never consider “budget” when creating a meal plan. We don’t eat a ton of meat and my meals are simple so it’s not like they are extravagant costs. I know there are a lot of great blogs and websites that offer tips and recipes for doing this though (Budget Bytes comes to mind)!
I do not have a saved file of recipes on my computer unfortunately, but I do have a secret Pinterest board – if you want to join just send me a DM on Instagram!! I also have cookbooks I reference regularly and meals I just throw together without recipes.
I don’t cook 2 meals every night – for the most part I pick meals that I can adapt for Flora’s food allergies easily or adapt to make a bit more kid friendly. The kids eat what we eat for the most part, but they are both picky eaters so I’m conscious about giving them a few things on their plate every night I know they’ll eat.
And here’s how I meal plan!
Every weekend I sit down and craft out our menu for the week and from this my grocery list. Usually this is only coming up with 4-5 meals. Friday I never cook (we usually order pizza or occasionally I will make it), I like to eat out one day on the weekend and I love to make Sunday night dinner. So really I’m only coming up with 4 quick meals for the week and something fun for Sunday!
Once you start meal planning you’ll develop a go-to list of recipes so it’s not a daunting task every week and you aren’t starting from scratch. I like to consider these categories when I’m making my menu – it makes it so much easier!
Indian (mainly curry)
Bowl Meal (Buddha bowls, burrito bowls etc.)
I love to use these notepads (and this one I’ve used for years) and for 2020 my friend Valerie created these adorable printables, you can get them here! I had them printed off at my local printer and I’m clipping them onto a clipboard (I love a clipboard)! I’ll save my menu every week so I can reference when I need ideas!
Some of my favorite family-friendly meals:
Meatballs – we eat these a ton as Flora just gobbles them up (I typically always use this egg-free recipe) and serve them with a variety of sauces, pastas, grains and veggies depending on the season! Love to do this with leftovers for the girls!
Pesto Pasta – Another super easy go-to meal. Because of Flora’s allergies I have to make my own pesto now but I love Trader Joe’s regular pesto and their vegan Kale pesto. Toss it over pasta and chicken sausage and you have a complete meal!
Burritos & Burrito Bowls
Fish Stick Tacos – Recipe coming soon but check out my ‘easy dinner ideas highlight on @CaitlinKruse for how I make these with fish sticks!
Fried Rice or Quinoa – Throw any veggies you have, brown rice, scramble an egg and add whatever protein you have on. I usually just toss with soy sauce! The girls love this.
Korean Beef Bowls – My entire family loves this one!
Naan Pizzas – Pick up frozen Naan bread at Trader Joe’s , regular pizza sauce, fontina cheese and greek olives. So good and easy!
Sheet Pan Tofu + Roasted Green Beans – Great meatless meal!
Homemade Chicken Tenders + Sweet Potato Fries
Pierogies + Chicken Sausage
Pesto Salmon – Just slather your favorite pesto on salmon and bake. This is SO EASY & GOOD. My girls love these little salmon “Happy Fish” from Whole Foods that I just pan fry in a little olive oil or butter!
BBQ Chicken Salad – Use pre-made or rotisserie chicken and make little chicken sliders for the kids!
Healing Turmeric Soup – One of my FAVORITES. It’s so healthy and surprisingly flavorful and somehow both of my girls enjoy it! I serve it with fresh bread.
One Pot Skillet Lasagna (I use ground turkey)
Cauliflower Gnocchi (eat this usually once a week – this is my favorite way to prepare it)
Broccoli Bolognese – one of my favorite comfort food meals!