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With the kids back to school in person I find that my evenings need more structure now than ever. I never considered myself someone who plans meals because the thought of meal planning for an entire week is daunting. Over time I’ve come up with my own system that I use every week when I order groceries. Today I’m sharing my tips for easy 5 minute weekly meal planning with you.
Easy 5 Minute Weekly Meal Planning
- Plan meals digitally.
First thing is first, I’ve used everything under the sun to try to keep track of my meals, including excel and good old scraps of paper with a pen. The easiest way I have found is to plan it out in a digital calendar like iCal/Gmail. It allows me to shift meals, schedule recurring meals, and at a glance from my phone or computer I can answer the age old question of, “What’s for dinner?”.
- Everyone picks a breakfast for the week.
In an effort to get kids out of the door quickly and easily in the morning, I have them each pick their favorite easy breakfast. It’s not always the healthiest but is usually something they can prepare on their own. Examples include: cereal, oatmeal, toast, pastries, hard-boiled eggs, pre-cooked egg baskets or quiche.
- Shop at 1 or 2 stores, max.
It’s easier to learn where items are, how availability is, or to manage delivery if you limit how many stores you shop at. We love Good Eggs (use the link for $25 off your first order) and Whole Foods. I try to take advantage of sales but also pay attention to how items are packaged since we try to limit our waste if we can.
- Choose a grain.
With three growing boys in the house, making sure they get their share of healthy grains is a priority. Often I will make a larger batch of rice so that we have leftovers for another night or lunches. When I make Spanish rice & beans they can use the leftovers for lunches.
- Choose your proteins.
We vary our source of proteins and always try to buy as locally and sustainably as possible. We find that about a pound of protein is appropriate to share for our family of 4. Sometimes I buy meat in bulk and separate it into glass jars to marinate and use later.
- Pick your veggies.
I try to choose veggies that are in season and easy to cook. Favorites include: asparagus, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, and sliced tomatoes. Often times I buy a large container of arugula and make side salads instead of having to cook one more item for the meal.
- Add the extras.
Fruits, snacks, coffee creamer, all go here. I always buy bananas and apples, as well as some other fruits depending on the season. I try to stay away from snacks, but pretzels and trail mix are a favorite in our house. Bread falls into this area too. I like sliced sourdough because it makes a great sandwich or toasted as an add-on to another meal.
- Be a meal repeater.
Have a meal that works well for your family and everyone loves? Don’t be afraid to repeat it. I try not to repeat more than once a week so that we don’t get bored, but currently we have pizza Friday and meatball Sunday. It also makes it easier to
Favorite Easy Weeknight Meals
- Spaghetti & Meatballs
- Grilled chicken, rice pilaf, and asparagus.
- Carnitas, Rice & Beans, etc.
- Steak, potatoes, and side salad.
- Pizza night – we love to barbecue ours.
- Pulled pork, roasted root veggies, and side salad.
What are some ways you meal plan? What is your favorite easy meal?