Planning to eat has been one of my biggest challenges along my mama journey. I started focusing on eating healthier when I got pregnant with my first child 9 years ago. Since then I have learned so much about preparing nourishing food that the way I eat has evolved. Taking time to meal plan helps me ensure my family is eating healthy meals and makes my evenings way less stressful. Rather than worrying about what to cook, I am able to enjoy the process of cooking and eating with my family.
Why Meal Plan?
Life is hectic whether you are busy chasing your dream, caring for kids all day or growing a precious little human inside you. At the end of the day, we all need a meal that nourishes our bodies and souls – something that tastes good, warms the spirit and unites loved ones around the table.
So often we feel like there is no time, or it’s just too hard or complicated. For many its a struggle to get dinner on the table, to eat balanced meals, and to truly enjoy the time we are granted with ourselves and our loved ones.
But what if it could be simpler? What if you didn’t have to stress thinking about what to eat for dinner? How would your life be different?
I choose to meal plan to reduce stress, feel more organized and ensure that my family is eating healthy meals. It is amazing how much calmer I feel throughout the day when I have a predetermined plan for my family’s meals. I admittedly found it awkward at first. I like to “feel” like eating something. How can I plan to eat fish on Thursday if I don’t know if I will be in the mood for fish on Thursday?
So to give myself more flexibility, I usually only plan 3 days of meals and sometimes up to 5 rather than the 7 or 14 suggested on some meal planning sites. But se la vie. That’s the beauty of meal planning- it’s your plan to get dinner on the table and simplify your life.
In the past few weeks with all the excitement of having a new baby in the house I have gotten away from meal planning. The first few weeks were fine because I had stocked my freezer with freezer meals. It was really a blessing. Once those ran out, now I can truly see the value of meal planning. I have had more frantic nights, nights where we eat late and nights where we eat less healthy options all because we lacked a plan.
Meal Plan and Grocery List
I want to share with you an easy meal plan to help make your week a little simpler and smoother. This week I focused on recipes that come together quickly, yet are hearty and flavorful. Check out the plan and click through to get each recipe. Then print out the grocery list below.
This meal plan includes dinners for 5 days. You can start the plan on any day you choose. I use the slower cooker on 3 days to help make your evenings a little less hectic. This plan is also gluten free as long as you use hard shells for your tacos.
Day 1 – Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken (or store bought) with salad – I love a good rotisserie chicken, so much that I actually have a toaster oven like this one that cooks them! Its such an easy meal that can provide leftovers for lunch the next day. Many store bought rotisserie chickens contain undesirable additives that’s why I started making my own. On days when I don’t have time to prep the rotisserie machine this recipe is my favorite alternative. Plus it makes a great “gravy” starter for bone broth.
Day 2 – Beef Tacos with fixings and marinated cucumbers – This is another of my go-to weekday meals. It comes together quickly and my kids really enjoy making their own tacos. We like to top with cheese, tomato, avocado, sour cream and mixed baby greens. For the cucumbers, slice and layer in a bowl. Generously salt and squeeze lemon on each layer then mix and chill before serving.
Day 3- Slow Cooker Apricot Chicken with rice and steamed broccoli – This is actually one of my favorite meals, but not necessarily the healthiest dish. So, to make this recipe a little healthier avoid dressings with additives and high fructose corn syrup in the jelly. I made my own french dressing with 1/4 cup ketchup and 1/4 cup split balsamic and white vinegar mixed with 1 jar of Polaner All Fruit apricot jelly. I used boneless chicken thighs instead of breasts and 1 whole chopped onion.
Day 4- Ginger Lime Super Salmon with coconut rice and asparagus- The flavor combinations are fantastic in this quick and easy, healthy meal. To make coconut rice simply use 1 can of full-fat coconut milk in place of water when preparing the rice. Add additional water as needed depending on how much rice you are preparing.
Day 5 – Super Simple Slow Cooker Fall Apart Roast Beef with mashed potatoes and peas – I love coming home to this easy meal in the slow cooker. Get a big roast and you will have some delicious leftovers for sandwiches, tacos, soups, baked potatoes, pastas…
I want to make it easy for you to get dinner on the table. Having a meal plan takes the worry and thinking out of eating. Please leave any questions you may have about the recipes or grocery list in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meal Planning Resources
Wellness Mama – 7 Easy Meal Planning Basics – This is one of the first articles that inspired me to start meal planning.
Know Your Food Podcast – 4 Steps to Easy Meal Planning – I love how this podcast breaks down the steps to creating a custom meal plan based on your family’s preferences.
Freezer Meals – 17 Freezer Meals that will Change Your Life – If you are a long term planner and/or a super busy mama explore the concept of freezer meals. It rocks.
Stephanie O’Dea – Free Meal Plan Chart Printable – At the bottom on this page there is a great meal planning chart that includes spaces for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner.
Do you meal plan? What’s on your plan for this week? I’d love to hear what your think of this week’s plan and your comments!
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