Our Food Philosophy
January 30, 2023

Everyday Meal Planning For Busy Moms - 16 Practical Tips

Are you a busy mom looking for practical everyday meal planning tips? Look no further - this blog post has 16 great tips to help you plan meals efficiently, save time and energy, and make delicious, healthy meals for your family.

Kaustav Ray

The daily grind of being a busy mom or working mom can often leave you feeling frazzled and with little time for meal planning and preparation. Your daily to-do list is never-ending - work, dropping off and picking up your kids from school or sports, household chores, errands, and the looming question of what's for dinner. The struggle is as real as it gets. 

Mothers everywhere hold a house together, and that’s never been up for debate. Think about all the times you got ill or were out of town. It must have been utter chaos - from meal-prepping to every other small chore, none of them would have been done with quite the same efficiency. Having said that, it’s unfair to expect the mom to be the de-facto chef of the house. A kitchen is a place where everyone regardless of gender must learn the most important life skill of all i.e. cooking. 

Whether you’re a cooking pro or not (or even a mom or not), you must learn a thing or two about preparing quick, easy and nutritious meals daily (without losing your entire mind in the process). We assure that this practical and time-saving meal-planning guide will change the way you approach your daily meal-prep activities. 

16 Meal Planning Tips for Busy Moms

1. Shop before you meal plan

Shopping before your meal plan can be a great way to save time and money, and reduce food waste. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your shopping trips:

  • Know what you need: Create a grocery list with the items you need for the week’s meals. Check the cupboards and fridge to make sure you don’t buy something you already have. 
  • Shop in season: Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, as they tend to be cheaper and more nutrient-dense. 
  • Stick to your list: Avoid buying items that are not on your list, as they can add up quickly and increase your food budget. 
  • Look for discounts: Look for deals and discounts in the store, such as buy one get one free, coupons, and store specials.
  • Make use of bulk bins: Bulk bins are a great way to purchase items like nuts, dried fruits, grains, and snacks in the amounts you need. 
  • Shop around: Compare prices at local stores to make sure you’re getting the best deal. 
  • Choose quality: opt for quality over quantity and buy only what you need.

Are you a vegan struggling to shop for plant-based foods? You might find our guide on this topic very useful - The Ultimate Shopping Guide For Plant Based Foods

2. Buy in bulk (but don't hoard) 

Buying groceries in bulk can be a great way to save money and time, but it can also be a recipe for disaster if you do not plan. Here are a few tips to help you purchase groceries in bulk without overbuying:

  • Plan your meals in advance: Before hitting the grocery store, write down a list of all the meals you plan to make for the week. This will help you determine what exact ingredients you need and how much.
  • Make a shopping list: Once you know exactly what ingredients you need, make a shopping list and stick to it. This will help you stay focused at the store and avoid buying items you don't need.
  • Pay attention to expiration dates: When buying in bulk, make sure to check the expiration dates on each item. Be sure to purchase items with a longer expiration date so that you can use all the food before it goes bad.
  • Check prices per unit: Don't assume that buying in bulk is always cheaper. Compare the price per unit of the bulk item to the price per unit of the regular-sized item to make sure you're getting the best deal.

Learn the effects of domestic food wastage and the steps to minimize it - read our blog on this topic.

3. Meal plan on Sundays

Meal planning on Sundays can help busy moms save time and reduce stress during the week. It allows you to plan and prep healthy meals in advance, avoid last-minute take-outs, and stick to a grocery budget. Additionally, it gives the family a chance to sit together and plan the meals they would like for the week. By dedicating some time on Sundays, busy moms can set themselves up for a more organized, productive, and nutritious week.

Here’s what meal planning on a Sunday may look like for you:

  • Make a grocery list based on planned meals.
  • Cook or prepare meals in bulk.
  • Use leftovers or freeze them for later.
  • Involve family members in meal planning and prep.
  • Plan simple and quick meals for busy nights.

4. Write down your meal plan for the week

Creating a meal plan can be a daunting task. The best way to go about it is to break it down into manageable steps. Try using a whiteboard to help you visualize your meal plan and keep it organized. Here are some tips to consider when creating and maintaining your meal plan on a whiteboard: 

  • Start by exploring recipes and determining which meals you would like to include in your meal plan. 
  • Write down all of your meal ideas on the whiteboard and assign a day to each meal.
  • Think about how much time you have each day to prepare and cook meals. 
  • Set a specific budget for each meal. This will help you determine which ingredients you can buy each week. 
  • Make sure your meal plan is varied and balanced. 
  • Create a shopping list and make sure to include all the necessary ingredients. 
  • Update your meal plan on the whiteboard each week as your budget or time availability changes. 
  • Use the whiteboard to track your progress with meal prepping and grocery shopping. 

5. Keep a running list of recipes your family loves (recipe binders or your own cookbook) 

Organizing your favorite family recipes into a recipe binder is a great way to bring everyone together around the dinner table. Not only is it fun to collect recipes, but it's also a great way to preserve the recipes for years to come. Here are some tips for creating a recipe binder that your family will love: 

  • Gather recipes from a variety of sources: family and friends, cookbooks, magazines, websites, etc. 
  • Create your cookbook or recipe binder, and bookmark each recipe or cuisine so that they are protected and easily accessible. 
  • Organize the recipes into categories and subcategories so that you can easily find what you are looking for. 
  • Have a designated spot to keep the binder so that it will be easily accessible.
  • Add a personal touch by including notes, photos, and other nostalgic items to the binder. 
  • Have fun with it by making the binder your own by decorating it with scrapbooking supplies or other creative elements.

Read our MasterChef recipe blogs:

Chef Jenn Lee's Dak Galbi

Chef Keyma Vasquez's Chupe De Pollo

Chef Kishwar Chowdhury's Chicken Korma

Chef Dorian Hunter's Cajun Chicken Pasta

6. Get efficient at ingredient prep

Preparing ingredients is an important and often time-consuming part of cooking. Here are some tips to help you become more efficient in the kitchen:

  • Get organized: Start by setting up a system for ingredient storage and organization. Label containers and shelves so you can quickly identify each ingredient.
  • Double up: When prepping multiple ingredients, consider doubling or tripling the quantity. This will save you time in the long run.
  • Use time-saving tools: Invest in kitchen tools such as a food processor, vegetable chopper, or spiralizer to quickly and easily cut and slice ingredients.
  • Have a plan: Have a plan before you start prepping. Make a shopping list, decide on recipes, and break down each step.

7. Try a grocery service

Grocery services can aid in meal planning by offering recipe suggestions, meal planning tools, pre-portioned ingredients, food delivery, and personalized recommendations.

  • Recipe suggestions: Many grocery delivery services offer recipe suggestions based on the ingredients you have ordered.
  • Meal planning tools: Some services have meal planning tools that allow you to plan and schedule your meals for the week.
  • Pre-portioned ingredients: Some services deliver pre-portioned ingredients for each recipe, making it easier to follow the recipe and reducing food waste.
  • Food delivery: Grocery delivery services bring the ingredients you need directly to your door, saving you time and effort.
  • Personalized recommendations: Some services use AI to make personalized recommendations based on your previous orders and preferences.

Some popular meal kit and grocery delivery services include Instacart, Amazon Fresh, Walmart Grocery, Blue Apron, Freshly, and Hello Fresh.

8. Plan 5-6 dinners per week 

Creating a week-long meal plan and grocery list should not be a stressful task that involves planning seven breakfasts, seven lunches, and seven dinners, all at once. Such an endeavor would take up an exorbitant amount of time and yield an excessive amount of food. Instead, the focus should be on creating a plan for five to six dinners per week. 

And as for lunches…

9. Eat leftovers for lunch

Making leftover lunches simple doesn't have to be difficult. Here are a few tips to make your lunchtime meal as easy and efficient as possible:

  • Buy in bulk. Buying food in bulk is a great way to save money and have plenty of ingredients on hand for lunchtime meals.
  • Get creative. Instead of eating the same meals over and over, get creative and combine ingredients to make new recipes.
  • Invest in good storage containers. Investing in good storage containers is a great way to keep your food fresh and organized.
  • Meal prep. Make your lunches the night before or on the weekend when you have more time.
  • Make use of leftovers. Make use of leftovers from dinner or other meals.

Read our blog : Salvage your leftovers with these quick-fix recipes

10. Keep breakfast staples at hand

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and having breakfast staples on hand is essential for a nutritious start. Keeping breakfast staples in the pantry can help you have a delicious and healthy breakfast every day.

There are many breakfast staples you can keep in your pantry to make sure you never go without a good breakfast. Here are some of the most popular breakfast staples to keep at hand:

  • Whole grain cereals: Whole grain cereals are a great source of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. They are also low in fat, sodium, and sugar.
  • Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are rich in protein, healthy fats, and minerals, making them a great source of nutrition for any meal. Keep a variety of your favorite nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds, in your pantry.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is also a great source of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber, as well as protein and healthy fats. It’s also low in sugar and sodium, so it’s a great choice for a nutritious breakfast.
  • Fresh and frozen fruits: Having fresh and frozen fruits on hand can help you whip up a healthy breakfast in no time. From apples and bananas to blueberries and strawberries, you’ll always have something nutritious and delicious on hand.
  • Healthy fats: Healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil are great to have in your pantry for a variety of uses. They’re great for cooking and baking, and they can also be a great addition to your breakfast.

11. Freeze freezer-friendly recipes

Here are 5 foolproof ways to freeze freezer-friendly recipes:

  • Choose Recipes Wisely: Pick ingredients that freeze well like dairy products, sauces, and soups. Avoid recipes with delicate ingredients like fresh herbs, vegetables, or seafood. 
  • Portion Control: Portioning out ingredients into individual containers or bags makes it easier to grab a single serving when you're ready to cook.
  • Flash Freeze: If you're making a large batch of food, flash freeze the individual servings first. This will help prevent them from sticking together when stored. 
  • Label and Date: Label and date your freezer-safe containers or bags before freezing them. This will make it easier to keep track of what you have and when it needs to be eaten.
  • Keep Cold: Make sure your freezer is set to the right temperature to keep your food from spoiling. Most freezers should be set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

12. Limit cooking time

Cooking shouldn’t be an all-day affair. Here are some tips to help you limit cooking time while still producing delicious meals:

  • Prep your ingredients before you start cooking. This can save a lot of time, as it allows you to avoid having to chop vegetables, measure out spices, and do other time-consuming tasks while you’re also trying to cook. 
  • Cook meals that are easy to prepare. Choose recipes that don’t require a lot of elaborate steps and don’t take too long to cook. 
  • Use a slow cooker or pressure cooker. These appliances can cut down your cooking time significantly. 
  • Take advantage of pre-made ingredients. Buy pre-chopped vegetables, pre-made sauces, and other ingredients that can help you save time. 
  • Use one-pot meals. These are meals that cook everything together in one pot, so you don't have to cook each ingredient separately. 

13. Use time-saving smart kitchen appliances

Smart kitchen gadgets like smart cookers, slow cookers, and sous vide machines can save time by streamlining meal preparation and cooking. They allow for hands-free, set-it-and-forget-it cooking and can also reduce cooking time. With a smart cooking device at your disposal, your everyday cooking time can be greatly reduced. 

There are quite a few game-changing smart kitchen devices in the market today. Instant Pot which was launched in 2010, caught on with people in the 2016s when consumers started to warm up to the idea of equipping their kitchens with multi-programmable cookers. Similarly, Rotimatic, an automatic flatbread maker, became well-known among the South Asian diaspora in the US. The latest entrant in the market (and also well-differentiated from most smart kitchen appliances of today), Nymble, is an end-to-end cooking robot that can cook an entire meals for you and your family. Using Machine learning and AI technologies and programmed with countless chef-crafted recipes, categorized by various cuisines and diets, it is one of the most efficient smart cookers available today.

14. Involve your kids in the cooking process

Cooking with your kids can be a fun and educational experience for everyone involved. Not only can children learn valuable lessons about nutrition and basic cooking skills, but they also get to enjoy the result of their hard work. Here are some tips for involving your kids in the kitchen: 

  • Introduce your kids to basic kitchen safety and hygiene. 
  • Start them off with simple tasks they can do on their own. 
  • Choose recipes with few ingredients that are easy to prepare.
  • Give them a choice in what they make and let them be creative. 
  • Make it fun! Make sure to laugh and enjoy the experience. 
  • Offer positive reinforcement and praise. 
  • Take pictures of the finished meal and celebrate your accomplishments.

15. Batch cooking

Batch cooking is an efficient way to streamline your meal prep and save time in the kitchen. From prepping and planning your meals to cooking larger quantities of ingredients, this guide will offer step-by-step instructions to help you get started with batch cooking. We’ll discuss the basics of batch cooking, provide tips for stocking your pantry, and recommend a few easy recipes to get you started. With batch cooking, you can save time and money while having delicious, nutritious meals all week long.

That being said, batch cooking may not be the healthiest or even the most sustainable option out there since the food made often loses its nutritional value and taste over time (if not consumed within the stipulated time) and leads to food wastage.

Learn if Batch Cooking is the right fit for you, and how it compares against daily meal prep.


16. Keep it simple for weekdays

The weekday rush often doesn't allow for experimenting with new recipes, so keeping things simple is a must. You may have a job or multiple other responsibilities to attend to, and the same may apply to other family members. In such a scenario, whipping up a brand-new recipe may not be the best idea. This can result in you losing tons of time and energy, and the recipe itself may not live up to your expectations. Instead, mix and match ingredients to prep easy recipes. For example, you could serve breakfast foods for dinner, like eggs and yogurt. Or you could do a snack-style dinner with a variety of healthy offerings. This way, you can make sure everyone is fed without spending too much time in the kitchen.

Can a cooking robot simplify meal planning for busy moms?

cooking robot

While meal prep helps you streamline the process of cooking, Nymble goes a step further and ‘does’ the actual cooking. It automates the entire cooking process so all you have to do is load the prepped ingredients and let Nymble prepare you a meal while you go about your day as usual. Besides, it updates you in real-time through app notifications when done. 

Moreover, Nymble aids meal planning by giving you access to 500+ ready-to-eat recipes, spanning every cuisine and diet. It lets you filter recipes based on preferences, diet, calories, and ingredients of choice, or even study detailed nutritional information for every recipe you cook. We recognized the need to automate the process of cooking in itself, since people are busier than ever before, and often resort to an unhealthy diet in the process. But at the same time, we chose to empower users to make their own food decisions, by giving them the ability of customizing, curating, tracking and reviewing all meals made by the cooking robot.

With Nymble in your kitchen, you can start your day by picking the recipes you'd like to try. After that, all you have to do is set out a reasonable and time-efficient meal-prep routine. Once the veggies, herbs, spices and all the other ingredients are ready, all that's needful is for you to load them onto your cooking robot's assorted sections and tap 'cook' to begin the cooking process. And in no more than 40 minutes, your meal will be hot and ready! Having this smart kitchen appliance makes your daily meal-planning process extremely efficient, but also gives you the gift of time which you can use to focus on more pressing responsibilities.


Summing Up

In conclusion, as busy moms and working professionals, finding the time for meal planning and preparation can seem like an impossible task. But with the right tools and strategies, mealtime can be transformed into a stress-free and enjoyable experience. Embrace the meal planning solutions presented in this blog and take the first step towards a healthier and happier mealtime routine. Say goodbye to fast food and hello to delicious home-cooked meals, all while managing your busy schedule.

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