Meal Planning Tips for Busy Families

With jobs, kids, relatives, friends, hobbies, exercise, and that podcast you really need to catch up on, it can seem like there’s no time in your day for meal planning. We’re here to give you a few easy meal planning tips, recipes, and ideas to help you get time back.

Psst: these tips are great for families and individuals! Just plan your portions accordingly.

Meal Planning Tips


Tip #1: Become a Recipe Hunter (and Critic)

Spend time each week looking around for the best recipes. Look for recipes with simple, wholesome ingredients that can feed a crowd—then, you’ll have something you can freeze for the future. The Spruce Eats and Cookie & Kate are great places to start!

Tip #2: Forecast Your Food Cravings

Here’s one that you may not have thought of before… weather changes, and along with it, your appetite. If it’s going to be a muggy week, you may prefer a cold pasta dish or refreshing jar salad. Alternately, if it’s going to drop a few degrees, you might opt for a good stew or casserole.

Tip #3: Plan Your … Well, Planning

It’s funny to say, but it’s very helpful to plan your meal planning. Choose a block of time each week when you can dedicate at least an hour to assessing what you have, making a list of the ingredients you need, and catching up on your favorite recipe blogs. We also recommend using a whiteboard or chalkboard to write down the plan for each day and any prep that needs to be done the night before (thaw meats, soak beans, etc.)

Tip #4: Keep Track of Your Meals

Jot down your meals and whether or not your family likes each one in a calendar or journal. We suggest doing this electronically and adding links to recipes. Win bonus points from us by marking the meals your family loves so you can find those mealtime wins easily in the future.

Tip #5: Keep a Well-Stocked Pantry

Meal planning and prep, as well as grocery shopping, are made easier when you curate a well-stocked pantry. Bon Appetit has the ultimate list of essential items to keep on-hand in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. (Hint: Parmesan is one of these essentials. Yum.)

Meal Planning Recipes

Recipe Idea: Sheet Pan Garlic Ginger Chicken & Broccoli


Ingredients come together on one sheet pan and store wonderfully in individual containers in the fridge. You and your family can eat this healthy dish all week!

Recipe Idea: Make-Ahead Breakfast Bowls

Make-Ahead-Breakfast-Bowls-Freezer-Friendly-iowagirleats-01 (1).jpg

Get your busy family ready for the day with Iowa Girl Eats’ freezer-friendly breakfast bowls. With a little up-front oven roasting time, you’ll be set on breakfasts for a long time. This recipe can also be easily customized with your family’s favorite ingredients.

A Few Favorites…

We have a rotation of cookbook essentials that help a ton for meal planning. Here are some of our favorites!

We know you’ve got a lot going on—why else would you be reading a list of meal planning tips for busy families? If your schedule would benefit from some cleaning help, give us a ring at (608) 497-1374. We customize cleaning plans for time-crunched Wisconsin families!