How many times have you stared at a blank sheet of paper trying to plan meals but the same meals come to mind? This happened to me so often…probably every week! Luckily, sometimes I wrote down our meals in my planner, so I would flip back through. I wasn’t consistent so it only helped a little. I knew I needed a better system.
Insert my meal planning binder!
I began thinking of meals in categories. I’m not organized or consistent enough to actually have themed days like Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday. (I would rather have a list of meals and choose the one I feel like making that night.) But once I started listing down meals by category, it was so much easier to think of all of the possibilities. In order to keep it all in one place, I created this printable and store it in a 3-ring binder.
Click below to get yours! You can print off the pages that apply to your family.
Meal Planning Categories
I am always looking for meals that my kids will eat without complaining. Don’t get me wrong, they’re really good eaters and eat almost everything I cook. But having 3 kids, the chances of at least one person not liking the meal are pretty high.
One of my girls doesn’t enjoy Mexican, so I was fully prepared for her to turn her nose up at these burrito bowls. Surprisingly, I was wrong…All 3 kids LOVED these! And they were super easy, so WIN-WIN for Mom!
Seasoning of choice (I used cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, salt, and pepper)
Variety of mix-ins (avocado, black beans, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and sour cream)
- Heat oil in skillet. Season chicken. Place in skillet. Flip several times until cooked.
- Cook rice according to package directions.
- While chicken and rice are cooking, chop and prepare your mix-ins.
- Assemble bowl to liking.
The girls loved being able to choose their own ingredients.
They even asked for seconds!
When I switched to working part-time, I revisited our budget several times to see where we could cut back. One category that was always extremely high was the grocery bill. At an average of $800/month, groceries was the third highest spending category – just after mortgage and daycare.
I’ve always wanted to use the ads, compare prices, and use coupons or money-saving apps. I’d never taken the time to do those things, and I thought I knew what a good price was. I assumed shopping at Walmart gave me the lowest prices, but after using a price sheet I realized I was wrong!
If you’ve read how I create and use my price sheet, this is where I show it to you in action!
STEP 1: Shop your cupboards. Take inventory of what you already have. I knew I had about 8lb hamburger, a pork shoulder, and 2 packages of chicken to use for meals. These were past sale purchases that I knew I would utilize in the future.
STEP 2: Plan your meals. For 2 weeks, I plan 8-10 meals, which allows for a couple leftover nights,1-2 nights of dining out, and 1-2 “Clean out the fridge/freezer” nights, if needed. I found that getting groceries weekly resulted in a lot of wasted food.
STEP 3: Ad prices go on the price sheet. Find which store has the lowest price and make a store list. I shop from 4 stores – 2 are pickup, 2 I have to go in.
STEP 4: For the remaining items, I searched online Hyvee and Walmart to see who had the lowest price. I order online and pickup at both of those stores.
STEP 5: Go shopping and be proud of all the money you just saved!!
If you’re a mom, you know that kids aren’t going to eat what you make 100% of the time. Unless your children are perfect. Or you have secrets, which I need to know.
I have found ONE lunch that my kids will eat without a fuss every. single. time. And it’s great for lazy moms like me because it’s basically snacks from the fridge and cupboards. Bonus: My oldest daughter has now taken it upon herself to prepare this “meal” on the weekends so now I can be super lazy.
I give you…
Muffin Tin Meals:
I think it’s the cute muffin tins that are enticing. (Two thumbs up!)
You can use any size. This one was for sharing (because I didn’t want to dig through my messy, unorganized cupboard.).
Mom win! They get fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein, and whatever else is small enough (or can be cut into pieces) to fit in the muffin hole.
The funny thing is…I could put these same exact foods on a plate and they would probably complain. But put it in a muffin tin and BAM! It’s exciting! It’s fun! And the food is devoured.