Why I Love This Easy System of Meal Planning for Busy Moms

Psst; lean closer and I’ll tell you a secret: There’s a way of meal planning for busy moms that’s so unbelievably easy you might not even believe it.

Or maybe, because it’s so easy, you have tried it but you haven’t even realized that’s what you were doing. Which is why today, I’m going to tell you all about my favorite, easiest system of meal planning for busy moms that gets the job done without putting in a whole lotta legwork.

Because sometimes we get all caught up in the “plan” of doing things, of following along a specific set of steps. And we miss the forest for the trees, so to speak. 

Because you want to know the real truth of meal planning? It’s that you know how to do it, girl. You got this on lock. Even if you don’t think you do.

What is this magic form of meal planning for busy moms, you ask?

It’s called the Meal Plan Rotation Plan, and yes, the title of it has the word “plan” in it twice. Just go with it.

I even feel a little silly talking about this in a blog post because it’s SO EASY. It’s SO NORMAL. 

Basically, the Meal Plan Rotation Plan can be chopped up into two “types” of meal planning. 

(By the way, have you figured out your meal plan type yet? Because that’s gonna make this a lot easier to start with. Click here to do so, then pop back over and read the rest of this post)

Ok. Here are the two types of meal plans, when using the Meal Plan Rotation Plan:

Type One: Just plan dinner and “wing it” for breakfast and lunch.
Type Two: Plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner, BUT! You’ll have the same thing (or close to it) for breakfast and lunch every day, and have a different dinner recipe to serve each night.

The secret sauce? That once you create this meal plan, whether that’s Type One or Type Two, you stick with it. For WEEKS.

Utilizing the meal plan rotation plan means you “settle in” to a meal plan. You can vary this by making a 2-week plan, or even a three-week plan, and rotate those.

But by keeping it simple, by cooking and eating the same things for a period, you’re putting your decisions on autopilot for a while.

YES! Free Meal Planning Kit!

Grab the exact sheets I use to create my meal plans with the handy Meal Planning Bundle! Includes weekly meal plan template, recipe ideas, cheat sheet, and checklist.


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Putting a rotating meal plan for busy moms on autopilot accomplishes a lot more than saving the time it takes to sit down and meal plan.

  • Number one, you’ll save money at the grocery store because you can comfortably buy in bulk, or semi-bulk, and take advantage of sales, space in your cupboard, and conquer food waste a little easier.
  • Number two, removing the mental strain of decision making, as minor as it may seem, can do wonders for your busy mom brain.

Have you ever heard of ‘the mental load’?

If you’re a mom, you probably know exactly what I mean: it’s the extra load of responsibility for the family that is typically carried by the mother.

It’s remembering doctor’s appointments, switching out winter clothes for summer, organizing the babysitter for date night. It’s the little things that fathers, as important and helpful as they are and can be, often don’t even think about.

And that mental load is draining, right?!

But guess what: creating a solid, simple meal plan for busy moms like implementing a rotation system can ease that mental load.

Instead of meal planning being something you need to take care of every week, you can just cross the meal plan figuring out right off the list. It’s taken care of for a while.

You might be asking: But what if I get sick of what we’re eating? Then I say: change it up! A meal plan is not written in stone. The beauty of using a rotation plan is that YOU DECIDE IT.  And the freedom it gives adds more space for wiggle room.

Below is an example of a simple Meal Plan Rotation Plan I wrote for my family recently.

For most of last month, my husband was plowing through three long weeks of double shifts at work, and I was solo parenting more than usual. 

Times like this, extra busy times, the Meal Plan Rotation Plan really shines. It takes a big weight off my shoulders to not have to think about meal planning, but still feel confident we’re eating healthy and with easy meals.

Breakfast: every day, my kids had whole grain waffles spread with peanut butter, and I had egg salad in lettuce cups. My husband grabbed breakfast at work.

Lunch: I had leftovers, the kids had homemade “lunchables” of cold cuts, cheese, and crackers. Occasionally I changed it up with PBJs and roasted veggies.

Dinner: I kept the ingredients for these dinners on hand and a list of them on the fridge. Then I made what we had time for or were in the mood for that evening.

We had something to this effect every week for about three weeks. I’m getting sick of it all now, so I’ll spend about 10-15 minutes (longer than I usually do when I’m making the 5 Minute Meal Plan, but it takes longer to decide on new stuff!)


So what do you think!? Does this sound like a plan that might work for your family during busy periods? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

YES! Free Meal Planning Kit!

Grab the exact sheets I use to create my meal plans with the handy Meal Planning Bundle! Includes weekly meal plan template, recipe ideas, cheat sheet, and checklist.


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This easy system of meal planning for busy moms is so simple, you might be surprised at how effective it is! It starts with making a plan- and then sticking to it.This easy system of meal planning for busy moms is so simple, you might be surprised at how effective it is! It starts with making a plan- and then sticking to it.

Meal Prep For Beginners: Meal Prep Made Easy for the Workweek

Listen up, working parents: today, I’m all about meal prep made easy, and why utilizing this “trick” can save you a ton of time during the workweek. 

Last month I got the chance to chat with Danielle over at Project Meal Plan, where she shares easy meal plans, simple weeknight recipes, and banging ideas for meal prep made easy throughout the week (She has a guide for Adult Lunchables, people. Adult. Lunchables. #genius).

I was on vacation with my kids at the time and she super graciously navigated our Skype talk through whining, spills, fighting, and a glass breaking in the background, plus the pause to clean that disaster up.

But through it all she dropped some major knowledge on how she discovered the simplicity of meal prep made easy, why it’s so important for maintaining sanity throughout the week and staying close to what you’ve meal planned, and what she does when it all goes out the window on a busy day.

(our conversation has been edited a bit for clarity and for aforementioned pauses to clean up spilled milk)

Me: Hi Danielle! So talk to me about how you got into meal planning and prep as a weekly thing.

Danielle: A few years ago, I was working at a rehabilitation job and every day we had about 30 minutes for lunch. It wasn’t quite enough time to go to a restaurant, and I hated wasting time on my break, so I started getting into meal planning to make the best use of that time.  Meal planning and meal prep meant that I didn’t have to leave the office to eat, I got my whole lunch break, which was great.

At the time I just started off slow; I’d bring a chicken breast and maybe a little salad, which was good. But I started to get tired of that, so I began looking into other things I could prep and plan on the weekend, and it took off from there.

And then about two years ago, I started my blog, where I began sharing my meal plans for that week. I’d make the whole meal plan, share that with my readers, and while it was fun, it was a lot of work. So I started breaking down how I meal prepped instead, and it kind of evolved from there.  

Ruthy: You started feeling like you were meal planning for the blog instead of your life. So you flipped it.

Danielle: Totally. So I started focusing on the meal itself and sharing how people could put these recipes into their meal plans and see if it traveled well. And it became the whole thing, how to prep for all meals, including dessert.

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Ruthy: So do you do mostly bulk prep? Or more day by day, a little prep each day?

Danielle: I used to do bulk prepping, but then I moved more to day by day for photography purposes for the blog. I typically do recipe testing during the week and then prepping for our own household meals on Sundays.  

Ruthy: How and where do you get your ideas for recipes testing? And how does that usually fit into the meal prepping portion?

Danielle: That’s a good question. I do my meal plan on Fridays for the week ahead.

I always start by looking at what I actually have. We don’t follow a specific diet, with the exception that I don’t eat red meat, but we do stick to more produce. And I really focus on making and cooking what we eat.

I always check the calendar first to see if we have dinner plans to see what we have going on, or potlucks, or anything else. Otherwise, I usually see what will work with our seasonal produce delivery box.

(Side note, Danielle uses Imperfect Produce, a produce delivery company that sends you ‘ugly’ produce for up to 50% off the normal price. Check to see if it’s available in your area)

Since I get to choose what’s in my box, I know what I’ll be receiving, so I break the week into two and plan from there, and I get the workweek first and then the weekends. Saturday is always a wild card. On that day, I try to plan for something, usually leftovers or whatever.

Ruthy: When you’re having an evening when the ish hits the fan, what’s your fave ‘grab from the fridge’ meal for a busy night?
Danielle: Quesadillas, since literally anything can go inside! It’s amazing, just anything you want, it seems (laugh). We don’t have a big freezer, so I have to make sure I plan for the things that go in our freezer, so that usually leaves me with leftovers that are perfect for a quesadilla.
Ruthy: We eat quesadillas all the time, too! Do you usually pan fry them or oven?
Danielle: Pan fry, almost always.
Ruthy: We do pizza quesadillas as well which is basically pizza toppings spread on a tortilla. My kids love it.
Danielle: We do that a lot too! We use a lot of tortillas, for burritos, enchiladas, breakfast tortillas, chop them up and put them for nachos. They’re so versatile.
Ruthy: So other than a quesadilla, when it comes to leftovers, do you typically play around and make something new with the old? Or when you have those leftovers you mentioned you plan on, do you just eat them as is?
Danielle: I like to make a quick casserole. There’s a version I do that includes leftover meat, leftover veggies, cooked noodles like egg noodles. Then I mix one egg, some greek yogurt, pesto or seasonings, and add some milk. And then just take a big bowl, throw it all in. Mix it all together, put it in the oven, and it’s a casserole! Though to be honest, sometimes it’s a crapshoot and we’re just going to see how it goes. Sometimes it turns out amazing!
Ruthy: So is the egg used as a binder or is it a cooked egg?
Danielle: Raw egg, as like a binder. Put it all in a bowl, put it in the oven, bake it and see what happens.
Ruthy: I love this! I don’t think I’ve ever done that concoction before, but I make a lot of casseroles. But I always make like, a bechamel sauce or something that takes a lot of time, and that sounds like it would be a lot faster.
Danielle: It is! You gotta try it.
Ruthy: Another thing a lot of my readers say they deal with is that they feel really overwhelmed with the idea of meal planning. Like, they have a hard time just starting. What would you say to that?
Danielle: I would say to try and meal plan on a different day from the day you start, if that makes sense. Start small. Don’t meal plan and meal prep on the same day because that makes it feel huge.
Honestly, it’s hard to demonstrate until you’ve tried it. And I try to say this to my readers too, is that, if you don’t follow the meal plan one day, don’t stop there. You just try again the next day and get something together.

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I loved this chat with Danielle! And I am fully, fully trying that casserole mixture she talks about.
What do you find intimidating about meal prep and meal planning? I’d love to hear your issues and thoughts in the comments!

For more on Danielle and to see what she shares on her blog in terms of meal planning, meal prep, and simple recipes, head to Project Meal Plan.
Thanks, Danielle!

Meal prep for beginners can feel overwhelming, especially if you're not following a specific diet but are doing it because it's such an amazing time saver! I chatted with Danielle from Project Meal Plan all about how you can make meal prep easy for the workweek. Meal prep for beginners can feel overwhelming, especially if you're not following a specific diet but are doing it because it's such an amazing time saver! I chatted with Danielle from Project Meal Plan all about how you can make meal prep easy for the workweek.

7 Easy Steps for Meal Plan Beginners

I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST! I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST! I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST! I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST! I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST! I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST!

Meal planning and meal prep can feel overwhelming if you’re new to it, and believe me, I’ve been there! Here are 7 easy steps any meal planning beginner can sink their teeth into, without feeling totally lost in the process.

When I first started out meal planning, I was confused. I felt ‘tied down’ to some random list of recipes that I had arbitrarily decided on earlier that week. I’d write my meal plan on Saturday, and then by the time I got to Wednesday I would just throw the whole thing out the window and pick up the phone for takeout.

But alas, our budget is not to be trifled with, and this whole meal plan disaster thing wasn’t doing me any favors in the wallet or waistline. So I sat my butt down, and I read everything I could on meal planning, and eventually, I crafted myself an awesome little plan that worked gangbusters for our family. Are you new to meal planning, like I once was? It can feel archaic, and boring, I know, but that’s only if you’re using yo’ momma’s old school meal plan, and let me tell you: it’s a new century, bud, and meal planning has come up along with it. However, I also know that once there’s a solid plan in place, meal planning for beginners can usually just mean following a certain strategy of steps. And before you know it: you go from a meal planning beginner to a Master Meal Planner. Meal Planning Queen, if you prefer. Meal Planning Messiah. (Too far? Ok; we’ll stick with ‘master’)
But don’t take my word for it! I checked in with 6 other awesome bloggers and asked their advice for how to start meal planning if you’re new to it, what steps should you take first, and what to do once you’ve started to pull together a plan. They’ve all got awesome advice, some have handy printables, and they’re all in your corner. Here’s what they have to say!

If you’re a meal planning beginner, start with the basics.

(Yep, the first one is ME!) this is one of my favorite posts about meal planning on this site (and I have quite a few!). I break it down, step by step, how I started meal planning and what you can do to get your feet wet, too. Read: My Top Three Meal Planning Basics

Even if the recipes says it’s 30 minutes, figure out the real amount of time it will take.

Shelley, from Two Healthy Kitchens, knows the pain we’ve all felt when dealing with a “super quick omg!” recipe: it doesn’t always take the amount of time it says it will. So, figure out how to “read” a recipe right, work that into your timeframe, and you’ll have a better idea how to plan appropriately. Read: Estimating REAL Prep Times

If you hate writing meal plans, try theme nights.

I love this take from Tracy at Simple Living Country Gal. She says to keep a “go-to” list that she can refer to whenever she’s pressed for time. Don’t have a list written out? Ask your family’s input- they might remind you of a dish you can make super quick! Read: Make Dinner Time Easier Without a Meal Plan

Get your kitchen in order to make things run smoother

Jenny, at the Jenny Evolution, has a great list here of how to get your ducks in a row before you even put pen to paper; after all- what good is a meal plan if you can’t find your ingredients or cookware? Read: Easy Meal Planning For Busy Moms

Start with an easy-to-follow printable to write your meal plan on

Lena, from What Mommy Does, knows the basics of meal planning starts with actually writing the dang thing! I love her simple, easy-to-use meal planning printable with clearly defined spaces. Just click to save and download! Read: Free Printable Weekly Planning Template

When it comes to accommodating different family members, roll with it.

Rachel, at The Mashup Mom, touches on a pain point I think a lot of us have: what to do when your entire family isn’t down with the same eating schedule, diets, or preferences. She spells out steps you can take to mitigate the mess of trying to figure out what to feed everyone.. when everyone has different food needs! Read: How to Modify a Meal Plan for Your Family

Skip the processed stuff and work real food into your meal plan.

Elaina, from The Rising Spoon, has a list of 10 ways you can make sure your meal plan isn’t full of over-processed junk; without taking tons of time out of your week! I love her tip for leftovers (which are my fave, too!) Read: Ten Meal Planning Tips for Beginners Using Real Food

There you have it: 7 awesome tips for meal planning beginners, all designed to help you get groovin’ on your meal planning schedule!

Which was your favorite? I’m excited to get digging into my meal planning routine now! If you want to take a peek into what I’m cooking each week, then join my brand new member community: Busy Mamas Cooking In Tiny Kitchens! Each week I add in my own family meal plan so you can see what I’m cookin’ Also get access to what others are cooking, swap recipes, vent about picky eaters, and more. Leave your info below to join, and I hope to see you there!

YES! Free Meal Planning Kit!

Grab the exact sheets I use to create my meal plans with the handy Meal Planning Bundle! Includes weekly meal plan template, recipe ideas, cheat sheet, and checklist.


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Pick and Choose Chart for Kid’s Packed Lunches

Deciding what to include in an easy and healthy kids lunch is NOT an exercise for the weak.  

“Will she eat this? Is this even healthy? Wait, am I including enough food groups?” Seriously, packing an easy and healthy kids lunch shouldn’t be this dang stressful. 

This year, my daughter is bringing lunch to school for the first time. 

And since she is a stubborn, picky little thing, I’m envisioning so much of what I pack to be brought home again. And like you, I definitely want to mitigate as much of that happening as possible. 

But honestly, packing lunches is tough for me because I like to systemize things like this as much as possible. 

We have enough morning time battles to fight, such as trying to brush my daughter’s hair without her running away from me. Ain’t nobody got time to deal with lunch making, too.

I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of packing easy and healthy kids lunches:

  • Try to only have one food group item at a time (so, say- one piece of fruit, one vegetable, protein, etc)
  • Cheese sticks are my very best friend
  • Those reusable baby food pouches I bought too many of when my daughter was just getting into solids? Those are the perfect vehicle for applesauce.
  • Leftovers are my other bff after cheese sticks. The nights before the kids go to the babysitter, I try to cook a dinner that is easily ‘leftover-able”. This saves me time and money, stretching a meal out this way!

Want some great ideas for a simple recipe you can make at home that works fabulously in kids’ packed lunches?

Check out this Facebook Live I did, where I made 15-Minute Peanut Satay Chicken Skewers and Broccoli Pesto Pasta.

Percolate Kitchen on Facebook Live: 2 Easy Back to School Packed Lunch Ideas

( Plus, I share my faaaaavorite reusable food containers, from Kids Konserve. They’re leakproof and practically indestructible! )

But wait! I went one step further, and created this handy little ‘Pick and Choose Packed Lunch’ cheat sheet for you! 🙌

Guys, this takes SO MUCH of the thought process out of planning and packing kid’s lunches. Add in a few extra options that your kid’s like; make it personal to you and your family.

Then, when it’s time to take care of the kid’s packed lunch, just pick one item from each section on the chart. Add it to the lunchbox, zip that sucker up, and toss it in the fridge or backpack.

It could.

Not.

Be.

Easier.

Well, easier if you had like, a maid to do this stuff for you. But you know what I mean.

Anyway, the download’s FREE!!

Download the Pick & Choose Chart!

Leave your email below to access the download.

Packing school lunches could not be easier!

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How I Got Started Meal Planning (and how you can, too!)

 I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

Real talk: I used to think meal planning was stupid and a waste of time.

When it came right down to it, my biggest problem was that I really didn’t know where to even begin meal planning:

What if I didn’t want to eat what I had planned?

What if I made too much food?

What if we decided to meet friends that night instead?

What if something else sounded better at the grocery store? 

Couldn’t I just wing it?

Now, I look back at myself and laugh; meal planning has, if anything, made my life easier! Now I know what I will be spending that week at the grocery store, I know what we’re having for dinner that night, and I know just how I can ‘pivot’ to a different dish if something comes up or we change our minds last minute.

While I thought meal planning was hemming me in, it was really freeing me up in ways I could never have expected.

I’ve been writing on this page about just how I plan meals for our week since I started it, in 2016. But my meal planning journey began after my first daughter began eating solid food, when I was tired of throwing meals together at the end of an already long day, and hated how I would sometimes reach for the easiest thing to give her when I didn’t feel like cooking (she ate a lot of banana and avocado dinners back then)

YES! Free Meal Planning Kit!

Grab the exact sheets I use to create my meal plans with the handy Meal Planning Bundle! Includes weekly meal plan template, recipe ideas, cheat sheet, and checklist.


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In this post, I’ll be dropping all that knowledge into one big, fat list.

If you’re new to meal planning, there’s info here to get you going. If you’re in a rut, I got you covered there, too. And if you just need some inspo to figure out what the heck you’re actually cooking this week, I have cheat sheets and idea lists galore!

For those ready to begin meal planning:

My Top Three Meal Planning Basics

Comes with a free printable template, which is super handy. I hung it up on my fridge. I like the way she breaks this down for any meal plan beginner, with different meal planning tips and step-by-step how to start a meal plan.

This Is the Ultimate Pantry Essentials Checklist

Here's a list of all the pantry essential staples that every cook should have! This is a great starter list for people looking to begin meal planning, too. With a stocked pantry, you can always whip up a quick dinner!

How to Start Meal Planning

I really didn't know where to begin with meal planning for my family, but this was a great place to start. She's got some good ideas in here!


How to Decide What To Cook

9 Best Quick and Easy Cookbooks Every Busy Cook Needs

Cook ‘Family Meal’ Just Like a Chef

I never thought about how professional chefs know how to make family meals on a budget- but it makes sense! She's got some really good ideas in the checklist, too. It helped me cut our grocery budget big time!

‘Don’t Throw That Out!’ Repurposing Leftover Ingredients

Stop! Don't throw it out; follow this guide to reusing leftover food. Here's a huge list of ideas, with downloadable recipes & an easy infographic.

 


If You Meal Plan Already, But Want Inspiration

The 5 Minute Meal Plan

How I create my '5 minute meal plan' each week, using a super simple system! Once you have it set up, you won't believe how easy it is to use.

How to Get Out of a Meal Planning Rut

Stuck in a meal planning rut and sick of eating the same foods all the time? We've got some tips and tricks for jazzing up your meal plan so you're excited about weeknight dinners again!

The Fastest Way to Convert Recipes from Metric to Imperial (and vice-versa!)

Looking to convert recipes from metric to imperial measurements? Or even imperial to metric measurements? This handy chart will help translate, plus there's frequently used conversions like gallongs into ounces, baking pan size conversion, and more!


I hope these will be helpful for all you meal planning beginners!

If you’re interested in receiving free, quick, simple recipes you can make that night, don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list – the box is below. Happy eating!

YES! Free Meal Planning Kit!

Grab the exact sheets I use to create my meal plans with the handy Meal Planning Bundle! Includes weekly meal plan template, recipe ideas, cheat sheet, and checklist.


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I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

Here’s How to Snap out of a Meal Planning Rut (tips, tricks, & recipes!)

Stuck in a meal planning rut and sick of eating the same foods all the time? We've got some tips and tricks for jazzing up your meal plan so you're excited about weeknight dinners again!

Welcome back to the next post in my “Ask an Expert” series!

This week, we’re talking about: How do you get out of a meal planning rut?

Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs has a few good ideas on how you can jumpstart your creativity when you’re feeling stuck!

Her site is awesome for those who are trying to save money, utilize everything we’ve got in our fridges and pantries, cook fresh, wholesome (mostly organic) foods for our families… and not break the bank in the meantime!

I love Tiffany’s email newsletter because she’s always sharing something that is actually helpful.

If you’re not signed up for her emails, I really recommend that you go do so right now. I’ve been a subscriber for a while now, and I genuinely look forward to her emails! It’s never just an update or a push to buy something, but genuine ideas to get you cooking fresh food and while saving money, too.

And I love her idea of banishing the meal planning rut, down after the jump. I’m totally going to start doing her idea now!

 Please note this interview has been edited slightly for clarity.

YES! Free Meal Planning Kit!

Grab the exact sheets I use to create my meal plans with the handy Meal Planning Bundle! Includes weekly meal plan template, recipe ideas, cheat sheet, and checklist.


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Ruthy: Hi Tiffany! Let’s start: How do you decide what to cook for dinner each night? Do you have a binder, a list, “theme nights”, etc?


Tiffany
All of the above! I have a general theme for what to make each night (i.e. Tuesday is salad night), but when I make my meal plan for the week, I ask my family what they’d like to eat.

I also keep a running list of recipes I’d like to try and if I’m stuck on what to make, I look at previous meal plans for ideas.

What motivated her to figure meal planning out.

Ruthy: When did you start meal planning?

Tiffany: I started meal planning when I shopped on a monthly basis. My kids were little and the budget was tight. The best way to maximize the budget was to shop in bulk at Costco once a month, but in order to do that, I had to know what to buy. It took a couple months to figure it out, but once I saw that meal planning kept us under budget, that motivated me to keep going!

Ruthy: What’s a good way to get out of a ‘meal planning rut”?

Tiffany: Trying a new spice. I found myself in a meal planning rut recently and picked up two spices from the store – Chinese 5 Spice and Red Curry. I tried them in all sorts of ways and just these two spices alone inspired several recipes that were amazing, and will be shared on the blog!


“A good way to get out of a meal planning rut is to try a new spice. I recently tried 2 new spices, they inspired new recipes, and it was amazing.


Ruthy: You have a great grocery savings course. What’s your favorite ‘secret tip’ for saving money on groceries?

Tiffany: I don’t know if my “secret tip” is really all that secret because, in the frugal community, it’s common knowledge that meal planning and eating leftovers will save you money. However, in Grocery Budget Bootcamp I teach a strategic method for applying all the money saving tips you’ve heard of. It’s when you use them in a very specific way that when you maximize your time and money saved!

Ruthy: What would you tell someone who feels overwhelmed about where to start meal planning?

Tiffany: Just plan tomorrow. Look at the pantry, fridge, and freezer and decide right now what you’re going to cook. It doesn’t have to be fancy – it just has to be healthy. If you’re committed to buying healthy food or cooking from scratch, even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be nourishing! The freedom from already knowing what’s for dinner is addicting, and you’ll soon find yourself wanting to plan more than just tomorrow.

Ruthy: What’s your favorite ‘use up the leftovers’ dinner recipe?

Tiffany: I actually have a few of these, but I don’t use them often! Salads, fried rice, sandwiches and soups are what I turn to when we have an assortment of individual portions of leftovers (i.e. steamed carrots), BUT my husband is diligent about taking leftovers to work for his lunch. This means I rarely have these random leftovers in the fridge. About every 10 days or so, we’ll have a “leftovers” for dinner night, and that’s when all the containers get pulled out and dinner is slightly different for everyone.


“Just plan for tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it just has to be healthy.”


Ruthy: You feed your family lots of healthy, natural and organic food… on a budget! What’s your best piece of advice for someone who’s trying to buy organic and natural foods without breaking the bank?

Tiffany: Prioritize. If you buy everything organic, you will break the bank. There’s no way around that. But if you prioritize what’s important to your family and put your money there, first, everything else will fall into place behind it.


“If you buy everything organic, you’ll break the bank. But if you prioritize what’s important, everything else will fall into place.”


Whew! that was such a great interview, and true to form, I thought Tiffany was mega-helpful. Didn’t you?

You can learn more about Grocery Budget Bootcamp here. Enrollment is currently closed, but you can sign up to be notified about when enrollment opens.

You can also check out Tiffany’s blog Don’t Waste the Crumbs. 


You might also like: 

Getting Started Meal Planning with Angie from MealPlanningMama.com

3 Reasons Why You Need Better Kitchen Organization

Caring for Your Cast Iron Pan

Getting Out of a Meal Planning Rut with Tiffany from DontWastetheCrumbs.com: "Just plan for tomorrow. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be healthy." Getting Out of a Meal Planning Rut with Tiffany from DontWastetheCrumbs.com: "Just plan for tomorrow. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be healthy."

YES! Free Meal Planning Kit!

Grab the exact sheets I use to create my meal plans with the handy Meal Planning Bundle! Includes weekly meal plan template, recipe ideas, cheat sheet, and checklist.


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We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!

We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!

We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!

We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!

We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!