Oh no, it’s that time of the day again!
You get home from work or running errands and you have no idea what to cook tonight.
Your kids are starving and they keep asking you what’s for dinner.
You wish you had some simple meal planning tips for working moms on hand so you didn’t have to start worrying about this right now.
Does that sound like you?
Up until recently, you thought you could do life without meal planning (too much planning sucks, I know!).
But I also know that you’ll be so glad once you’ve set up a meal plan.
It sounds a bit old-fashioned and will initially take up a little bit of time, but meal planning will make it so much easier for you as a working and busy mom to have dinner ready.
On-time and without stress. It’s gonna be worth it!
Benefits of Meal Planning
Why do you need meal planning tips as a working mom?
Having a plan on what to cook on what nights can save you time, money, and most importantly: stress and hectic.
Your family’s life is already busy enough, so staying organized with meal planning will be one worry less for you.
How Do I Create a Simple Meal Plan?
Usually, I only worry about what to make for dinner.
During the week, it’s cereals and oats for breakfast, on the weekend when we have more time, we sometimes make pancakes or eggs on toast.
For lunch, no one is home and we either take some leftovers from the night before or get something out.
Keep it simple but also do what works best for you, your family, and your budget.
Meal planning for working moms will make you spend less money as you’re being organized without having to get take away every second night or throwing away foods that have gone off, only to buy them again the following week.
How Do Working Moms Make Dinner?
Being a working and busy mom, you will need to do meal planning if you want to stay on top of things.
With a meal plan, you’ll be less overwhelmed and rushed and you won’t be asking yourself what to cook when you get home.
Overview: Simple Meal Planning Tips for Working Moms
- Make a meal plan
- Use the same ingredients for different meals
- One-pot/one-pan meals
- Oven meals
- Use leftovers
- Order groceries online
- Rotating meal plan
- Set a reminder to defrost meat
- Stock basics for back-up meals
- Shop seasonally
- Cook more to freeze or use for lunch
- Use dinner boxes
Let’s have a look at these 13 simple yet helpful tips on how to get yourself organized with meal planning for working moms:
1. Make a Meal Plan
Before doing the grocery shop, ask yourself how many nights you will be at home this week.
You might be going out for dinner for someone’s birthday or an anniversary, or perhaps you are invited to a friend’s place.
Maybe your partner and/or kids won’t be home for dinner on one of the nights.
If it’s only you at home, you might be happy with a sandwich or a salad so that’s one night less for you to worry about what to cook.
Also, have a look at what foods you already have in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.
This will save you money and you won’t be wasting any food.
Once you know how many nights you need to cook dinner for and what foods you have at home, you can think about what to cook and start writing your shopping list and your meal plan.
2. Use the Same Ingredients for Different Meals
Buying a lot of different ingredients which you only use for one meal or recipe will make you spend a lot of money and you’ll also be throwing them out at the end of the week.
To avoid wasting food, try and buy food in bulk and use some of it for different meals.
Just change one or two ingredients like another protein and you’ll have a different meal without having to go too much out of your way.
3. Crockpot/Slow-Cooker Meals
Using crockpot recipes is the perfect meal idea for busy moms!
Cut the vegetables the night before, put everything in the crockpot in the morning before leaving the house and there’s your soup or stew when you get home.
I cook these types of meals minimum once a week, especially in winter.
It’s so simple!
4. One-Pot/One-Pan Meals
Another great meal planning tip for busy moms – one-pot meals! I love those!
They are just SO easy to make and you can chuck everything in you like. It’s a good way to use up any leftovers as well.
You can do a search on Pinterest for hundreds of one-pot meals.
5. Oven Meals
Add oven meals to your list of meal planning tips as well!
My favorite is lasagna with either beef or vegetables.
It requires a little bit of cooking first but once it’s in the oven, you’ve got all the time to either clean up the kitchen or have a shower, etc.
6. Use Leftovers
Sometimes we don’t realize that we can cook a decent meal out of the leftovers we have.
Every now and then, go through your pantry and use up what has been sitting there for ages.
It doesn’t always have to be a fancy meal – putting together something random can be just as good and changes up your meal plan.
As mentioned above, leftovers are great to be used for crockpot, one-pot/one-pan, and oven meals.
7. Order Groceries Online
To save yourself time and money, consider shopping for your groceries online. Instead of walking through the aisle trying to find what you’re looking for, you can easily look it up online.
Some supermarkets also have some easy recipe ideas online, which usually don’t take longer than 30 minutes to cook.
While browsing for your groceries, you can also grab some meats or pies on special to put in the freezer and be prepared for the weeks ahead.
8. Rotating Meal Plan
Another annoying term, I know!
If you’re anything like me: I love food but I don’t particularly like cooking.
I don’t mind cooking because I know it has to be done and I want myself and my family to be healthy.
I want to know what food I’m putting into myself rather than getting junk food where I have no idea of what’s inside. Plus, it’s simply cheaper to cook yourself than to eat out.
I’m also not a fan of all the waste the takeaway industry produces.
So, hearing the words rotating meal plan gives me the creeps! But it sounds worse than it is.
Pick some of the following:
- Your family’s favorites
- Simple meals like eggs and bacon or baked beans on toast
- Some of the above meals (crockpot, one-pot/one-pan, oven)
- 1-2 new meals (check out the below meal planning apps)
And voila: there are your meals which you can rotate over a period of time.
You don’t always have to write everything down in a lot of detail, but it’s something to keep in mind if you get stuck on what to cook.
9. Set Reminder To Defrost Meat
There’s nothing worse than getting home realizing you forgot to take the meat out of the freezer in the morning before you left to work.
Next time, set yourself a reminder and maybe even take it out the night before, leaving it in the fridge to slowly thaw out.
This brings us to the next important tip to add to your meal planning list for busy moms:
10. Stock Basics To Do a Back-up Meal
Make sure to stock some of the basics to be able to cook a back-up meal in case you forgot to take out the meat (or forgot to get an ingredient for one of the planned meals).
This happened to me so many times as well as this: I’ve had meat gone off in the fridge that I had only bought a couple of days before and I was left wondering what to put on the table for my family.
Having a backup meal will save you the hassle in case something goes wrong (which happens pretty much every week as we both know).
11. Shop Seasonally
To avoid being overwhelmed by the number of foods being available in supermarkets these days, try to shop seasonally.
Not only will you save money, but you will also live more sustainably and eco-friendly.
If you’re not sure what’s in season, have a quick look on the internet. Also, the fruits and vegetables that are out of season are usually more expensive than the ones being in season.
12. Cook More To Freeze or Use for Lunch
While you’re cooking, you might as well cook another batch to put in the freezer.
Along with the backup meals, you will also have something you can just take out of the freezer for those busy weeks.
Alternatively, you can eat it for lunch the next day.
13. Use Dinner Boxes
Why not try one of the delivery services (such as Hello Fresh) that offer meal kits?
You get the diner box conveniently delivered to your home containing all the ingredients you need to cook a meal based on the number of people who live in your household.
That way you don’t have to do any planning, don’t have to go to the shops plus all the ingredients come in the right amounts so you don’t waste any food. Also, their recipes are very easy to follow.
FAQ’s on Meal Planning
How Can a Busy Mom Eat Healthy?
A busy and working mom can eat healthy by shopping seasonally, not getting too much takeaway food, and being organized by doing meal planning.
Being organized means having a meal plan set up, so you can cook healthy food at home rather than getting take out due to not having the right ingredients at home to prepare a meal.
What Are Free Apps for Meal Planning?
Here are some free meal planning apps which can help you with meal planning as a working mom:
Conclusion: Simple Meal Planning for Working Moms
I hope you found some of these 13 tips helpful and can make them work for you in one way or the other.
It’s not about being perfect and having the greatest of all meal plans. It’s about keeping it simple and stress-free.
As a working mom, you need to have an easy meal planner that works for you and your family.
It doesn’t need to work for anybody else and don’t start comparing yours to others!
Take whatever advice you need to make your life easier.
Even if there’s only one night a week you have made a plan for, it’s one night less to worry about.
Happy meal planning!