Meal Planning Tips for Surviving the Weeknight Rush

family meal planning

We have an activity every single evening of the week.

Monday we have football practice.  Tuesday we have tutoring and two football practices.  Wednesday we have soccer.  Thursday we have a repeat of Tuesday.  And, Friday we have soccer again.

My life is insane.

And also, I am so over eating in my car.  And frozen taquitos.  I couldn’t gag one of those bad boys down right now if I had to.

Fortunately, I don’t have to.

I recently discovered a bit of awesome lying about on Pinterest waiting for me to catch on: meal planning.

It has literally changed my life!

I may not be able to keep up with my children’s daily activities, but I can officially ensure that they will be fed at some point before or after they get there.

This, friends, is a major score.

Don’t ask me why I didn’t do it before, but this is how I got started.

Image via Flickr/redfriday

1.  Get inspired. 

When you really sit down and think about how much cash you burn on random food stuffs, I think most people would be surprised at what that stop at the store on Wednesday after work is really costing them.

For me, meal planning grew out of my desire to never have to eat another frozen taquito in my life again ever.  It’s funny how quickly something like that can make you hate it.  Also, we really want to get our finances in order so I can buy more shoes for the future.  When you really sit down and think about how much cash you burn on random food stuffs, I think most people would be surprised at what that stop at the store on Wednesday after work is really costing them.  (Unless you’re already a meal planning boss, and then I’m not even sure why you’re reading this!)  Point is, I spent a bunch of time on Pinterest looking at tasty recipes and cute shoes and I knew I needed to jump on the meal planning bandwagon.

Image via Flickr/LizMarie_AK

2. Find a great resource.  Getting started meal planning is a tough commitment to make.  It takes time you probably don’t really have, and effort you’d probably rather use up napping.  I needed some help getting started.  The Julieverse was a great resource to get me on the right path because she provides free monthly meal plans.  Totally takes the guess work out of things!


Image via Food on the Table

3.  Use an app.  There are some really great ones that can do a lot of the leg work for you.  For example, Food on the Table has recipes and even makes shopping lists and finds deals for you at your local store.  When it’s THAT easy you can hardly afford to NOT meal plan.


4.  Plan every meal.  Not just dinner.  If you really want this whole thing to work for you, you kinda gotta go big or go home.  You can’t just plan a couple of meals here and there and expect it to save you money.  Or make you healthier.  Or even work for more than a few days.  Meal planning, like every life change, is a commitment.  If you’re not a relationship girl, meal planning may not really be your thing either.

Image via Angela England, Cooking with Kids

5.  Have fun with it.  One of my main goals with family meal planning was to expand our culinary horizons; break the taquito Tuesday trend once and for all.  It’s my way of spicing up our lives.  That’s why it’s working for me.  If it were time consuming AND boring I totally would’ve quit by now.  So try some interesting, new recipes, get your kids in the kitchen, and make eating fun again!

Already an expert meal planner? Share your tips in the comments so we can bask in your knowledge! 

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Meal Planning Tips for Surviving the Weeknight Rush

Amanda has been wowing the Internet since 2008 when she launched her pretty-much-useless guide for parents, parenting BY dummies. As it turns out, her parenting advice is not generally useful for more than a good laugh, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need! Amanda spends her offline time (which is embarrassingly limited) running a photography business, working as a social media director for a local magazine, writing freelance articles about stuff she loves, wrangling her 3 little Dudes ... More

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  1. jej03 says:

    If you have older children, include them in the meal planning. If they’re old enough, they can learn to plan a meal for the family & cook it one night a week, as part of the overall meal plan. That is what I have my 14 year old do.

  2. amber says:

    I am a meal planner. Have been ever since my kids started school and I was working F/T. Now that I am a SAHM, I still do it. It helps me stay on budget and not stress when days get out of control. My best piece of knowledge would be the big word, PLAN. I pull out my cookbooks, take an inventory of my frig and pantry and try to use what I already have. This helps to not have to throw spoiled food out and cuts down on buying unnecessary duplicate items. Every Thurs I sit down with my resources while the kids are at school and I make my list. I buy those fun or corky magnet pads at michaels dollar section and go to town. My husband thinks its funny but I always tell him; “its saving you money.”

    • jej03 says:

      This is really great info. What suggestions do you have for a mom who works out of the home full time and has 3 children? I am married, but because my husband works so much I might as well be a single parent. Spending a whole day planning & grocery shopping, etc., is just not something I have the time for. How would you suggest I do things?

      • Nichole says:

        If you don’t think you have time to plan all at once then start small/slow until you very the hang of it. Keep a notebook with you and write it down when you have time. Like write down what you might want to make for dinner tomorrow night. With that write down all the ingredients you will need. Then check your fridge & pantry and see what you might need. If you think you don’t have time use your phone, text yourself or use the memo app. Just write it when you have time. After a while you will realize by doing this it will save you time. Then after a few saved minutes, then those saved minutes turn into hours. Then after all those little steps you can turn a few days of planning into a week of planned meals. Trust me I know. I am a mother of 3. 13 yr old son with football practices & games to go to, 6 yr old boy that thinks he needs to live at the firestation (dad is a firefighter) and my newest that is only 7 weeks old. Plus I do inhome daycare. We are a very busy home & so I don’t get to leave the house often. But when I do I make it count.

  3. I try to meal plan, but I’m terrible at following through. And I feel like I get stuck fixing the same things over and over again. I really want to try the food on the table thing!

  4. I have been meal planning for a few years now and it is the only way I survive. I will be relying more and more on it this fall as we have both boys in soccer and I head back to work. My crock pot will be my BFF soon.

  5. Phammom says:

    Great tips! I’ve started meal planning one lunch a week, that last most of the week. My husband does dinner I will be adding more but don’t want to be over whelmed or I will stop.


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