As a busy mom myself, I fully understand the need for a weekly meal plan or at least some semblance of a direction to go in when it comes to meals for the week. Between work, school, kids’ activities, our fitness goals, keeping up with the home, and everything else that falls on our shoulders as moms, meal planning and prepping can be critical for our success.
For some moms, the thought of carving out the time to meal plan and meal prep sounds impossible. How do we fit it into our already bloated schedule? However, I challenge you to consider the stress, frustration, and anxiety that comes with getting to meal times and having no clue what to feed our families. This is where things start to go downhill really fast. Tell me if you can relate:
It’s Monday around 4 pm. The kids are home from school, they’re hungry, and you’ve got sports practice and activities lined up for the evening. And you have no idea what to make for dinner.
A quick look in the pantry reveals that your options are a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese or a quick Door Dash order. But you’re trying your darndest to be diligent about teaching your children the importance of healthy, nourishing foods, but it’s so much easier said than done…
If this feels at all familiar, solidarity, momma. This is the exact reason why I turned to a weekly meal plan for my family and why I’m encouraging you to do the same.
In this article, I’m sharing my busy mom meal plan and how you can utilize weekly menus with healthy recipes to save time, money, and your sanity. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re feeding yourself and your family with nutritious, balanced meals that taste amazing.
How Do Busy Moms Plan Meals?
Have you ever wondered how some moms just seem to have it all figured out? Their house is immaculate, their kids are well-groomed, and there’s a picture-perfect meal on the table every night. By now, we can all recognize that this is BS, right?
Social media has warped our sense of reality and caused us to compare ourselves to others (even more than we already did) and constantly feel like we’re not measuring up. The truth is, busy moms don’t have it all together, they just play the part on Instagram. We’re all guilty of sharing our highlight reels with the world, not the messy middle.
But as busy moms with our hands and hearts full, there’s no doubt a messy middle, and you can find relief knowing that we all experience it, despite what might be shared on Instagram and TikTok. So if you feel like your family meals aren’t up to par, know that you’re not alone and that there’s always room for improvement.
When it comes to meal plans for busy moms, how are we getting it done? Well, the successful busy mom meal planners are taking a simple, streamlined approach to planning meals. We’re following easy, healthy, minimal-ingredient recipes and we’re strategically planning and preparing for the week ahead. And we’re committed to giving ourselves the time and grace needed to set ourselves and our families up for a week of success.
Next, I’m sharing my top 8 tips for planning weekly meals as a busy mom.
8 Tips For Moms to Plan Weekly Meals
I have been meal planning and meal prepping for a few years now, so you can bet that I’ve gathered a few handy tips & tricks along the way.
As a nutritionist, I am all about ensuring my family is eating healthy, balanced meals that fuel our bodies, but I’m also a realist and I know things will never look perfect. My approach to weekly meal planning is to keep it simple and make it easy, here are my top 8 tips for getting that done:
- KEEP IT SIMPLE. Meal planning does not mean that you dig out your old cookbooks or pour over-complicated recipes searching for something fancy. Meal planning should be done with the intent to make the meals that you and your family already love, but more efficiently. Start with your go-to meals. And try out a new family-friendly recipe or two in the process. Don’t over-complicate it!
- See what you already have on hand. As you’re planning your meals for the upcoming week, before you break out your phone to order more groceries, take a look at what’s already available in your fridge and pantry. Identify what you can make with what you already have on hand and then fill in any missing ingredients by adding them to your weekly meal plan shopping list.
- Food prep vs meal prep. This is one of my top tips for meal planning as a busy mom. Don’t think about needing to prep full meals, instead, focus on the building blocks of your meals and allow for some flexibility. For example, you can meal prep a big batch of chicken breast and have that ready to go for all kinds of meals from salads to pasta skillets. I recommend choosing two types of protein to meal prep, two grains (ex. Rice & sweet potatoes), and a vegetable or two.
- Factor in leftovers. You do not need a new meal-prepped menu item for every single day of the week. That’s just exhausting! Plan 2-3 different dishes for each meal of the day and then strategically schedule them into your week where you know they will fit. For example, if you know that you have time to cook a meal on Sunday but Mondays are a rush, cook on Sunday and then repeat that same meal on Monday as leftovers. This will require that you look at your schedule for the week and know which days are conducive to more labor-intensive meals and which ones are best for quick heating up of leftovers.
- Choose meals and foods that will last a few days in the fridge without getting weird. You could have all of the best intentions for meal prepping for the entire week, but if you make foods that get soggy, stinky, and lose their integrity over the course of a week, the chances of you actually wanting to eat them when the time comes are slim. This might require that you only meal prep for a couple of days at a time.
- Don’t be afraid of utilizing the convenience of canned and frozen ingredients. I think so many of us moms think that we’re somehow cheating/not giving ourselves and our children the best nutrition when we use canned or frozen fruits and vegetables vs fresh. Let’s drop that expectation right now! Canned and frozen options have all of the nutrients of their fresh counterparts, plus, they don’t go bad! Convenient can be healthy - don’t let anyone let you think otherwise.
- Keep your fresh fruit fresh by investing in some meal prep containers that allow you to do so. I tell everyone who wants to listen about the ProKeepers Fresh Produce Keeper Set that I picked up at Costco (you can also find some great options on Amazon). These handy containers allow you to wash your fruits and vegetables and keep them fresh all week long thanks to the built-in ventilation and drainage systems.
- Be flexible! Even the most efficient busy mom with the best-laid intentions for adhering to her meal plan for the week is inevitably going to have a day or two where things hit the fan. When this happens, it’s ok to scrap your meal plan and pivot. This is the exact reason why you will always find convenient, ready-to-heat foods in my house. We love pre-made turkey burgers, Just Bare Nuggets, and Chicken sausages on nights when we need to heat something up quickly in the air fryer and keep it moving!
Meal Plan For Busy Moms Example Week
Now that you know what to do, let’s put it into action! Here’s a sample meal plan for busy moms based on what works best for my family and for our community of women who look to us for weekly meal plans that help them stay on track.
Step 1: Choose 2-3 breakfast, lunch, and dinner options that you want to prepare for the week.
Here’s an example:
- High-Protein Cinnamon Rolls
- Blackberry & Melted Peanut Butter Chia Pudding
- Breakfast Burritos
- Protein Pancakes
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Skillet
- Sweet & Spicy Thai Turkey Meatballs over brown rice
- Easy Baked Turkey Tacos
Step 2: Decide Which Days You Will Cook Which Meals and What Days Will Be Reserved For Leftovers.
Typically, I encourage you to plan to cook meals on one day and then eat them as leftovers on the next day. For some meals, you can stretch the leftover to 3 days, but that will depend on the dish and the size of your family.
If you’re preparing and eating 3 meals at home per day, the goal of our weekly meal plan is to have you cooking and preparing only 1 meal per day, the other 2 meals should be leftovers from the day before or are already meal-prepped and ready to go.
Here’s an example:
- B- High Protein Cinnamon Rolls
- L-Healthy Buffalo Chicken Pizza
- D-Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Skillet
- B-Blackberry & PB Chia Pudding
- L-Leftover Healthy Buffalo Chicken Pizza
- D-Leftover Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Skillet
- B-Leftover Blackberry & PB Chia Pudding
- L-Leftover Healthy Buffalo Chicken Pizza
- D-Sweet & Spicy Thai Turkey Meatballs Over Brown Rice
- B-Leftover Blackberry & PB Chia Pudding
- L-Chicken Bacon Ranch English Muffins
- D-Leftover Sweet & Spicy Thai Turkey Meatballs Over Brown Rice
- B-Breakfast Burritos
- L-Leftover Chicken Bacon Ranch English Muffins
- D-Easy Oven Baked Tacos
- B-Leftover Breakfast Burritos
- L-Healthy Big Mac Wrap
- D-Leftover Easy Oven Baked Tacos
Step 3: Make Your Grocery List and Shop
Once you know what you’re making and when you can plan your grocery shopping accordingly. Be sure to take inventory of what you already have on hand first and then fill in the gaps at the grocery store. Utilize our meal planning tips above for storing your fruits and vegetables so that they stay fresh for the whole week.
Step 4: Meal and or Food Prep
You’ve got your plan and your supplies, now’s the time to make your upcoming week as efficient as possible. This is the step where easy meal plans for busy moms are made. Take a look at the recipes you have planned, and identify the proteins, grains, veggies, and/or sides that you’re having with them.
In this example, there are three recipes that use grilled chicken, so meal prepping your chicken at the front of the week will be crucial. Take a look at how much chicken you’ll need for the recipes on your meal plan and cook accordingly. I like to bake my chicken breast in the oven, but the grill and air fryer work great, too!
Do the same for your grains, veggies, and any other sides that you can batch-make in advance and pull from during the week as you’re making your meals. Be sure to store all batch-made foods in airtight containers in your fridge to keep them fresh.
Step 5: Enjoy More Time in Your Schedule!
The main goal of creating meal plans as a busy mom is to allow for more time and freedom during your week and less stress around mealtimes. Aside from that, you’ll also enjoy a healthier body as studies indicate that those who follow a meal plan are more likely to adhere to nutritional guidelines and implement food variety.
Furthermore, with a plan in place, tracking your calories and/or macros is so much easier which can lead to improved adherence to your diet plan and potentially weight loss, if that’s your goal.
For the busy mom who is afraid that she doesn’t have enough time to meal plan, I encourage you to make the time because the benefits of planning and prepping will pay off tenfold. Your week will flow smoother, your diet will be easier to stick to, and you’ll have more time to spend with your family during those previously busy weeks.
Wrapping Up Meal Plans For Busy Moms
My hope is that this meal plan guide for busy moms like myself will help you get the confidence to start meal planning for your family. Our approach is always to take out the guesswork when it comes to nutrition and make the process of eating healthy as straightforward and pain-free as possible. Healthy doesn’t have to be hard, complicated, or puzzling!
Using the information in this guide, you can start to piece together a meal plan that works for your schedule, preferences, and family’s needs. However, you can also sign up for free weekly meal plans and save even more time each week. Every Friday morning, you’ll get a fresh meal plan that includes:
- Healthy, Registered Dietitian-designed recipes that are high in protein and macro-friendly
- A comprehensive plan that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack ideas for a full week (Sunday-Saturday)
- Easy recipes (minimal ingredients & steps)
- Ad-free recipes (no-nonsense content, endless scrolling, and dodging pop-ups)
- Complete grocery list for the week
- Meal prep guide for the week
- And more!
Plus, you’ll get access to our online community of other women and moms working on optimizing their nutrition so that they can live their fittest, healthiest lives and have more time for their families.