As a busy mom dialing Domino’s yet again, you think to yourself this has to stop! You need a better way. Here are 5 secrets to painless meal planning!

As a mom, the most common phrase in your house is probably “what’s for dinner?” (It sure feels like it is here!) After a long day, the last thing on your mind is what you’re going to put on the dinner table tonight. You may have just gotten home from the grocery store, but you can’t think of anything to make! (Gee, that sounds familiar!) As a busy mom, you have a narrow window to work with when it comes to dinner time. As you dig through the stack of papers on your counter to find the number for Domino’s, you think to yourself this has to stop! You know you need a better system, you need a meal plan. But meal planning just feels so painful! If this sounds like your day to day life, I want to share with you 5 secrets to painless meal planning!

5 secrets to painless meal planning

5 Secrets to Painless Meal Planning

1. Give each night a theme

Theme nights help make meal planning so much easier! Designate one category of food for each night of the week. This will help keep your choices to a minimum and make it easy to plan ahead. Fridays can be pizza nights, Tuesday can be for Mexican, and so on. Establishing theme nights will help make your meal planning simple and easy, and you can rotate them each week if you wish.

2. Reuse meal plans

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel each week! Every time you make a meal plan, save it for a later date. When you’re in a pinch and can’t think of what to make, grab one of these meals plans and reuse it! It’s so simple and will save you so much time.

3. Keep your meals short and sweet

When planning your meals, look for recipes that don’t require much effort or time to make. This will help ensure that you follow through with your meal plan, without making it too difficult. I look for meals that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. There are hundreds of great recipes out there, so get creative!

4. Love your leftovers

It doesn’t matter how carefully you measure out your portions; there always seem to be leftovers. Well until your kids are teenagers, then not so much. But if you have leftovers, use those to your advantage! Leftover nights will give you a night off from cooking, and preparing dinner will be so easy. Plan at least one leftover night a week to make sure you’re using up your leftovers. Or use the leftovers for a simple lunch, which is most often how we use up our leftovers here. 

5. Keep a list of your family’s favorite meals

Stick with what you know your family loves. New recipes are exciting, but if you’re struggling to get dinner on the table, now is not the time to change things up! I keep a list of all the meals my family loves and asks for often. When I’m not sure what to plan, I start with this list.

What do all these ‘secrets’ have in common? They are all about keeping things simple and easy! That is the secret to meal planning! If you plan extravagant and challenging recipes to make each night, you are setting yourself up for failure! Stick with recipes you know your family loves, and you can create and reuse over and over again! Before you know it, you’ll start to look forward to those meal planning nights.

open cook book on kitchen counter


Are you good at meal planning? Is it something you do well consistently?

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  1. I just found your blog this week and l.o.v.e. it! I will heartily endorse the theme idea. Even though I’m not an expert planner/prepper, having a theme narrows my vision enough to come up with ideas more easily. I also like alliteration, so ours are Slow Cooker Sunday, Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday (anything Mexican or Latin!), Worldly Wednesday–int’l. cuisine, Thankful Thursday can involve leftovers or odd combos, Freezer Friday, and Soup/Salad/Sandwich Saturday. If it doesn’t happen to fit in, that’s okay, too. Blessings on you and your family, Shannon!