Being a parent and making sure kids have a tasty, balanced meal can mean many are lost on how to juggle, work, school, after-school activities homework, housework…the list goes on and cooking. It can be made worse by looking on social media to see everyone else rocking it with their perfectly planned meals immortalised on Pinterest or Instagram. We all know social media can lie, but it doesn’t help us feel any better when chicken nuggets, chips and beans is the quickest option to feed hungry mouths. After all who wants to slave over a 5-a-day meal to have it thrown in the bin after an hour-long battle with the kids to eat one more spoonful? Meal planning for busy families is a must.
We asked some super busy mums what their secrets were.
Batch cook big meals on a Sunday and pop them in the freezer!
Kerry – All about a mini Norris
Before I smashed the slow cooker. I used to have a day where I would bag up meals and freeze, so that I could just whack in there of a morning. An example would be a bag with beef chunks, spices, tomato, onions and peppers for a curry. I could plan my slow cooker meals better that way and already have ones bagged up to go.
Emma – Ready, Freddie, go
At the beginning of each month I write a plan for what meal we are having on Microsoft word calendar, then I do a big shop online for the meat, tinned good etc. that we need. I get it delivered to save me time. I then pick up fresh bits from my local supermarket during my lunch break. We always know what we are eating, so there’s no time wasted trying to figure out what to make and hunting for ingredients we may or may not have.
Nicola – Mummy to Dex
Set aside one hour a week to sit down, meal plan and do a strict shopping list to go with it. Batch cooking and freezing extra portions is great for those days you’re too busy to cook.
Sophia – Tattooed Tealady
I write down what days we need meals for and how many of us there are, I check cupboards and the freezer to see if there’s anything that needs using up like sauces, leftovers etc. Then I decide what we are having for the week. I try to plan in some non-meat dishes to keep the costs down and some quick meals like pasta for when we have a busy day. I look through cook books and meal plans online for inspiration each week.
Amy – Mama Mighalls
This book is great for quick recipes or cook now eat later recipes. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nosh-Busy-Mums-Dads-Cookbook/dp/0956746446
Amy – Eps & Amy
Get a chalk or white board and write the meals you plan to have each day on it. That way you can have a quick glance on the morning to get them prepared or defrost etc.
Beth – Twinderelmo
Ask your parent friends, family or facebook friends for their ‘go to meals’. Everyone will have something different and you can pick and choose between all the options. Searching the internet for the recipe and screen shotting it for later can be handy too.
Claire – The Happy Weaner
I love cooking a full chicken and using it for meals for the same day and the following day or two. Cooked chicken keeps for up to 3 days in the fridge according to the FSA. It’s so handy having the cooked meat in the fridge, throw it in a paella, a wrap, a stir fry, on omelette, sandwich, pasta and sauce. Also, bulk cooking a tomato and vegetable sauce or ratatouille. Freeze in batches and pull out as needed.
Helen – Talking Mums
Cook loads and freeze them over the weekend. Also, slow cooker is a dream… I shove in veg, meat and stock, so at night I only need to spend 10 minutes on pasta or rice and it’s sorted.
Lianne – Mrs Mummy Harris
Not necessarily meal planning, but I always make sure I’ve got a bag of pasta and a jar of pesto in the cupboard. Even if you plan, you can always get caught out and need a quick meal. Pesto pasta is my 14-month-old favourite and takes 10 mins to make.
Alex – Lamb & Bear
Put a list together a master list of all your family favourites and meals you have regularly. When it comes to doing that week’s meal plan, you have an easy list to refer to if you struggle to think of something to put on the plan.
Cat – Pushing The Moon
I put together a week of meals around one big one like roast chicken. We have the roast one day and then I make things with the leftovers for 2 or 3 days. I have quite a few things that I make using the leftover chicken.
Erica – 9 to Three Thirty
Crock pot freezer cooking. Prep and bag a ton of meals in one go and pop them all in freezer. Defrost each night before you want it and just bung I’m slow cooker in morning. Tea by afternoon, healthy and home cooked without stress.
Chantele – Two Heart Under One Roof
I have a 4 week rolling menu to help make sure I’m not cooking the same things over and over again. Means I don’t have to meal plan each week I just check which week it is and make sure we have the ingredients in.
Clare – Clare’s Little Tots
I have a big spreadsheet of all the meals that we all like split into categories (vegetarian / chicken / beef etc). At the beginning each week I pick 7 of them to make up the basis of our meal plan. I then use this to do our shop online. Meaning we always stay on budget and nothing sneaks its way into the trolley!
Vicki – Tippy Tupps
The overwhelming advice was about planning ahead, which make perfect sense. If you know what you are doing in advance, it saves time and helps you to feel more in control. Making use of a slow cooker/crock pot. Having a menu plan ahead of time and shopping online helps make meal planning for busy families a doddle.
For more ideas on meal planning visit: