Meal Planning Shortcuts To Try This Week

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One of the laws of nature is that ya gotta eat. One of the laws of motherhood is that ya gotta feed your people. Here’s how to make it easy this week! Check out these Meal Planning Shortcuts and see if they don’t save you time and hassle.

Meal Planning Shortcuts To Try This Week | Life as Mom

Do you find that you spend a lot of time planning, shopping, and preparing food for your family? It can feel like a never-ending chore, especially when you want to feed your children healthy, less processed fare.

How do you bridge the gap between preparing great meals for your family and still having time leftover for yourself?

I’ve learned that I have to take some shortcuts from time to time. Between homeschooling and a home business and wanting to go to the new Avengers movie and buying my daughter new running shoes, I don’t have all the time in the world to be in the kitchen. Do you?

You have to find quicker ways of doing things so you can still eat well, save money, and get on with life. Right?

Here are some of my go-to meal planning and meal-serving shortcuts. Try a few out this week and see if they don’t buy you a few more precious minutes to do something you really want to do.

Meal Planning Shortcuts To Try This Week

Go disposable.

I know, in this environmentally-friendly culture, I probably just said a bad word. But it’s true. Using paper plates from time to time will make kitchen clean-up so much easier. Let’s face it; clean up is one of the hardest parts of eating dinner at home. That’s why some people eat out all the time.

If you don’t mind throwing away a burger wrapper, don’t fuss about a few paper plates.

Pack lunches and busy-night dinners the night before.

If you’ve got people away from home at lunch or dinner now that ball season has begun, plan for some easy packable meals and do the prep work the night before. You’ll avoid take-out, save money, and eat so much better!

Meal Planning Shortcuts To Try This Week | Life as Mom

Do some prep in advance.

Spend one afternoon a week baking snacks, slicing cheese, prepping veggies, and making dips, so that you have things to munch on throughout the week without taking time from other tasks in order to prep yet another meal.

Having some ingredients prepped and ready to go will make dinner time a matter of ASSEMBLY and not chopping and hopping around the kitchen.

Prepare a salad bar.

While you’re doing advance prep work, make sure you chop up lettuce and salad toppings for several nights of dinner. You’ll eat more veggies when it’s all ready to toss in a bowl.

Do double duty.

Plan meals that build on each other and share common ingredients. Not only does this save money allowing you to profit from bulk purchases, but it also saves you time. Cook up a big batch of chicken and use it in bowls and salads and sandwiches throughout the week.

Why reinvent the wheel every night? Your family probably doesn’t even notice!

Speaking of not reinventing the wheel….

Let someone else do the meal planning.

Seriously. Why should you do all the work? You could delegate the task to one of the kids or your spouse or you could … let me do your meal planning for you! I’ve got meal plans to suit your family that will save you time, money, and stress.

Check out all the meal plans that are currently available; there’s a big variety to choose from. Talk about your super easy meal planning shortcuts!

What are YOUR favorite Meal Planning Shortcuts?

Originally published August 31, 2009. Updated April 28, 2018.

Meal Planning Shortcuts To Try This Week | Life as Mom

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Jennifer says

    We like to cook once and eat twice or three times. The last time my husband grilled chicken, we ate 3 pieces and cut up and froze 5. We used the cut up pieces for salads a few times over the past couple of weeks. It's quick when the meat's already cooked!

  2. Margery says

    I don't really have a lot of shortcuts, so I'm going to enjoy hearing from your readers. The one shortcut I have is to cook a meat once, and use it twice. Grill extra chicken, use it atop big dinner salads the second day. Make a big roast beef, cube it and serve with gravy and egg noodles the second day. Leftover ham can get chopped up and put into garden omelets for a dinner-for-breakfast.

  3. Mama Llama says

    Another shortcut is to use part of one night's dinner for the next night. Example: last night we had mashed potatos, and I made extra. Tonight I made shepherd's pie with the leftover mashed potatos. Sometimes just one less thing makes a big difference.

    Also, if you children like PB&J sandwiches, make the whole week's worth on Sunday night, wrap them up and freeze them. When you put them in lunches, they keep everything cool, and they are thawed out by lunch time.

  4. Rhonda says

    I've always made meal prep part of our school curriculum. Over the years I've logged the time under Household Management, Life Skills, or Home Economics. When little, the kids took turns reading out loud while the others worked in the kitchen and listened. Computation skills (+, -, *, /, fractions) have all been practiced while baking and cooking. Now that they are older (13 and 16), they're pretty much on their own for lunch and we all rotate responsibility for fixing dinner. But, we mostly like working together.

    Although we have always used purchased curriculum, we do not have set times for school (well, except for a core time of 9-12). They begin when they wake up and end when they go to bed…with many, many, many sidelines every day. This is our 11th year and has (so far!) worked well for us. Every family has to find what makes them happy.

    In summary, my shortcut has been to just incorporate meal prep into my school plans.

  5. Christina says

    Thanks for sharing your ideas! I'm printing them out to use in my planning.

  6. CTMOM says

    Can you share the spaghetti-tomato-cubed beef salad recipe? at least I think* it’s a salad

    • It’s included in the meal plan I mention at the bottom. Creamy Noodles with Ham and Tomatoes. So good!

  7. Autumn says

    Since we homeschool and have 7 kids, sometimes my more frazzled meal and biggest expense is lunch. So I finally got wise and whatever we eat for dinner one night is usually lunch the next day. I give myself a night or 2 each week to just play “refrigerator roulette” as my grandmother called it and clean every leftover out.

    • Excellent strategy! It’s so hard to stop midway through the day and feed everyone. One thing that has helped me is to pack lunches as if they were going off to school, and then letting them grab theirs from the fridge when they get hungry.

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