5 Minute Meal Planning

Posted February 5, 2018 by Prairie Wife - 11 comments

meal planning

I’m not a huge meal planner; I’ve tried traditional meal plans many times over the years and failed.

That being said, I do have a method to the madness: I make an average of 30 dinners a month for our family of 7. We generally only eat out one night a month because A. It costs $100 to feed our family, and B. Driving back into town to eat is often more work than just making something at home.

I don’t count breakfast because other than the weekends when The Cowboy is home, it’s a rotation of yogurt, bagel, and fruit or cereal/oatmeal and fruit. For lunches, I mostly rely on school lunch or the Cowkids’ leftovers to heat up and eat.

I go to the grocery store every two weeks and buy in bulk.

I’ve got a pretty good idea of what our family will consume in those two weeks, and while the pickings get a bit slim the last few days, we’ve gotten good at keeping our food waste down to a minimum. I’ll be glad when we have pigs again this Spring because I loved being able to give all of our leftover scraps to them. Even now, the chickens get all of the non meat or dairy scraps.

Now that you have a background on how we run things around here, it’s time to discuss my five-minute meal planning.

I do this every two weeks before I go to the grocery store.

5 Minute Meal Planning

  • Take a Look at your Schedule: Take a look at your week and be realistic about the nights when you CAN and CANNOT make a regular meal. Thursdays suck around here and are always crazy, so it’s my night for a crock pot meal or leftovers. Monday, Wednesday and the weekends I usually have time to make a fancier recipe so those nights I take requests from my family (my homemade red sauce is popular) or head over to Pinterest for some inspiration.
  • Reuse, Recycle, and Double: This part is tricky at first, but once you get it, it’s simple. When I make chicken breast for a meal, I cook a few extra (double) and use them in a meal later in the week, like in our tortilla soup. Did you make a big beef roast on Sunday? Use the leftovers and make Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches a few days later (recycle). I always have extra spaghetti sauce so why not use it to make pizza later in the week (reuse). Just a bit of extra thought, and you can have two meals out of one. The second meal is usually perfect for a night when you only have a few moments.
  • Write it Down: This is pretty obvious…for me, if I don’t write it down, it won’t happen because I can’t retain any thought or idea for more than 10 seconds. I also don’t plan for every single night. There are always go-to meals like tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches, and tomato soup you can quickly whip up. Nothing fancy is necessary to keep track of your meals. I jot it down on our big family calendar. Even a piece of paper on the fridge with the days and meals written down works just fine!
  • Nothing is Set in Stone: Things happen, and you may stray from your plan. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like tacos the night I planned them. With this plan, it’s easy to switch out a day. Side Note: NEVER feel guilty about grabbing a frozen pizza or eating a box of mac and cheese. God specifically created these foods out of love for tired mothers on the brink of insanity!
  • Two Extra Helpful Hints: Have your partner pick a few nights a month to cook. I used to feel guilty about it, but hey, if The Cowboy is eating, he can help by cooking. Second tip: do your meal planning at the same time you make your grocery list. It ensures you have everything you need!


Does this sound like something that will work for you? 

Give it a try for a month and let us know, and we would love to hear how you meal plan (if you do) so let us know in the comments!

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11 thoughts on "5 Minute Meal Planning"

  1. Bennie says:

    Seeing as it’s just ME that I cook for and that I live a mile or two from a number of grocery stores I shop weekly. I tend to try and make a big pot of soup every other week and stockpile 1-2 servings in the freezer for those weekends when I’m super busy and can’t make a meal for the work week. Then I can just reach into the freezer for my lunch or dinner.

    This week I made a breakfast tater tot/egg casserole for my lunch. I usually make 4 portions of oatmeal on Sunday morning. One is for that morning but the rest is for Tuesday – Thursday. Monday I usually make a protein shake (on Sunday) and Friday is my fave!! A whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and a sliced banana.

    I love all our ideas for your family meal planning.

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      I love freezing soup for later, I used to do it all the time, now the Cowkids eat too much lol. The Cowkids would probably love if I made breakfast ahead for them like that, I may have to surprise them with being a morning mom 😉

  2. apaliska says:

    Check out these delicious meatless tacos. These black bean sweet potato tacos come together quickly and are even topped with an easy homemade salsa. Considering how big on tacos my family is it’s pretty crazy that I haven’t made them very often recently. I’m planning to make up for it by doing tacos at least once every other week and hopefully even sharing a new version with you guys each time.

  3. Valerie Dusing says:

    This was our life when the children were home. No my problem is remembering I’m cooking for two possibly three not 5 to 8.

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      I’m still learning that every three weeks or so I need to make more food as the kids get older and hungrier!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is exactly what I do and it works great! Great minds think alike!

  5. Kris Jenkins says:

    This is exactly what I do….great minds think alike! This works really well for me!

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      Not ashamed to say that I’m proud of how little we eat out because of this!

  6. Margi Kenny says:

    I did these similar plans when raising the kids and running around during every sport season.

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      It seems to work!

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