In our family, we have done everything from eating for 2, to shopping for baby led weaning, to catering to me being a breastfeeding mama, to feeding a picky toddler, to needing a bigger calorie intake when I was running and John was surfing/climbing regularly.
If meal planning has taught me anything, it’s that needs and tastes will change throughout the seasons. Adapting your recipes and grocery lists to fit your family’s current tastes is necessary for creating healthy meals that fit everyone’s lifestyle!
So how does a stay at home/work from home mama have time in her day to whip up a variety of meals to feed the family throughout the week? …By choosing simple recipes that take little prep, that are colorful (sneak in those veggies!), and can be whipped up and cleaned up during naptime! At the bottom of this post, I’m sharing four of my go-to recipes complete with a grocery list, a seasonable produce chart, plus ways you can use your leftovers the next day.
Now that we have another baby I’ve had to test the waters of meal planning again to see what works best with our schedule of nursing the baby and entertaining the toddler. Though I’m no expert in juggling all the hats that being a stay at home mom has, I CAN tell you that cooking a great meal for your fam while being a boss babe working mom is NOT impossible!
It just takes a little planning and some elbow grease (and maybe a hail mary during naptime) to make it happen consistently. Some weeks I make a bomb meal plan and stick to it, other weeks we order pizza last minute LOL! Here’s how I manage meal planning every week:
- stop eating out, start eating in: I’m embarrassed to say how much money we have spent in the past eating out. Making food at home is much more appealing to us because we get to kiss the cook, it’s more intimate, and saves us money.
- shop your pantry for ingredients: start with what you have on hand first before you go purchase anything new. It makes creating recipes interesting and is cost efficient.
- meal plan around what is on sale and in season: off season produce is going to cost more than what is in season. Scroll to the bottom of this post to download my printable seasonal seasonal produce list 🙂
- cook from scratch when you can: prepackaged meals/foods can get pricey. You can make your own pretty much anything these days, from almond milks to breads to cookies to coffee roasts. Consider making your own foods such as breads, muffins, smoothies, smoothie/fruit Popsicles, and refreshing drinks like coffee, tea, and lemonades.
- cook for a crowd: leftovers are always a win! Leftovers mean less prepping, less cooking daily, and less shopping.
- grow your basics: you can easily grow your own windowsill herbs (such as basil, rosemary, thyme, and cilantro). Branching out into tomatoes, strawberries, and even cauliflower is doable with the right tools! My favorite resource to go to for starting to grow things on your own/in small spaces is The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell. I’m currently attempting to grow lettuce from scraps…and it’s actually working!! More on that later.
- buy in bulk: if you know you use a lot of something, why not buy it in bulk? We get eggs, milks, orange juice, berries (depending on prices), cereal, butter (if you bake a lot), bananas, lemons for lemonade, etc. in bulk. It saves us money and time to not have to buy our “food essentials” so often.
- enlist the littles: getting your kids to “help” mix or pour, put things in the cart while you’re out, or even talking about the colors and names of each ingredient will get them excited about food and cooking too!
- pick 4 main meal types you’ll have every week as your base: as an example for a regular meal plan, this can look like a pasta, a meat, a veggie, and a soup. Of course you can modify based on your eating style (GF, Vegetarian, Paleo, etc.). This will give you a guideline on what to find recipes for each week/month that you plan out meals.
- remember to just have fun with it! Cooking doesn’t need to always be gourmet, or a chore, or the same every week. Try new dishes, shop for ingredients based on the alphabet or colors (fun for younger kids), or do themed meal weeks (like Mexican food, Greek food, Southern Food, etc.). Experiment with flavors, textures, and soon you’ll be having fun with meal planning in no time.
Because I want you to feel completely confident in your culinary journey to meal planning and prepping, I created three free printables that you can download and print at home! You’ll get my grocery list complete with ingredients for 4 meals throughout the week, 4 bomb main meal recipes and how to turn them into awesome leftovers, and a pretty ‘what to shop for in each season’ list of the most popular/easiest to shop produce that is worthy of hanging on the fridge. Just click each link below to pop up the printables, and enjoy! ❤
If you make any of these recipes, I would love to see your spin on them!
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