Top 5 Meal Planning Tips for Crazy Busy Lives

Feeling stressed out about your meal planning (or lack thereof)?  Is the back-to-school rush leaving you with too much take out?  Read on for my top 5 tips to get your meal planning back on track!

1.     Go with the Flow

It is hard enough having a busy schedule without feeling like you are trapped by your meal plan.  When life gets hectic around here, I use my meal plan more like a framework rather than a schedule that is set in stone.  That way, when things need to be flexible, you don’t feel like you are letting your family down.  Remember, it is still worth it to meal plan because that framework will help give you a structure to hang your hectic days on.

2.     More Family Favorites

Your family’s favorite foods offer them comfort and security – who doesn’t want Mom’s lasagna when life gets crazy?  Especially when there are big changes in the family, using more of your family’s favorites will certainly help to ease the transition.  This will also help your frazzled nerves because you know how to make it already and you know that everyone will love it!

3.     More Freezer Cooking

This is my secret sauce for getting through really busy periods when I have less time or energy to cook.  I might do a full-out once a month cooking day (if I know ahead of time that things are going to be especially busy, such as before a new baby arrives), but more often I just start making double batches of anything that freezes well to have in a couple weeks.  This is like my security blanket for when I am not sure when we will get back into our meal planning groove.  This past week, we ate some soup that we had put in the freezer a couple of months ago (still totally delicious!) and put a couple more dishes up there for next week.  Now I can rest easy (hah!) knowing that I won’t have to worry about cooking those couple of nights.

4.     Have a Backup Plan

When you are busy and forget to get dinner started (I am definitely guilty of this one a couple of times last week!), it is vitally important that you have some kind of backup plan – what I like to call my “go-to” quick meal.  For us, this is spaghetti – I make a big pot of sauce and freeze it.  My husband or I can have dinner on the table in a flash – minimal cooking skills required!  This is your insurance against running out and picking up some carry out, and when you are not able to cook, it can be a real life saver (not to mention money saver!).

5.     Be Gentle with Yourself

There are seasons in life that aren’t perfect, so if you are in one of those, give yourself a break.  As my dad always likes to say: “This too shall pass.”  And when it does, you can get back to rocking meal planning, keeping your house spick and span, and folding all of your laundry.  Until then, be gentle with yourself and don’t sweat it – it will only make it worse!
So, who is with me in this?  Are you in a busy season and struggling with your meal planning?  Tell us on Facebook or Twitter!

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