meal planning hacks for families

*Photo by William on Unsplash

Here at MamaBake we’re ALL about creating free time for women.  To think outside the box and find ways to spend LESS time in the kitchen, but still manage to put dinner on the table 7 nights a week.

I don’t know about you, but the ‘idea’ of meal planning, is one thing; a lovely, time saving, ‘goodness me, I’m so organised, I’ve really got my shit together‘ thing.

The actual sitting down to come up with a meal plan is quite another!

7 nights of meals…..GO! 

Um, nope. Nada. Nothing.

How many of you, like me, have sat down at the table, a lovely blank notebook open before you, pen at the ready, only to find yourself staring blankly out the window with not a single clue as to what to feed your family for the next week?  I can remember every word to Young MC’s ‘Bust A Move’, but for the life of me cannot, without some help, pull out a recipe from the millions floating around my brain matter (I’m sure they’re in there somewhere…perhaps they’re off hiding in the corner with long division, how to French braid and all the other skills I’d once learned but never quite mastered).

When energy or inspiration are running on empty, or you’re just so busy that even the thought of adding another thing to your ‘To Do’ list is enough to see you break into a cold sweat, we’ve got a few handy meal planning hacks that’ll have dinner planned, shopped for and on the table, leaving you with free time to do whatever the heck you want for the rest of the week. 

Now, if you need me, I’ll be off learning how to French braid.

It’s just dinner!

First things first.  Let’s take the stress and pressure off ourselves when it comes to the family dinners.  Ready?  Aaaaaaand, release…….Feel that? It’s the lifting of the expectation we seem to place on ourselves that every meal needs to be a restaurant worthy, #foodporn, gastronomic experience?  It so doesn’t.  As you sit to plan your meals, remind yourself; it’s just dinner.

Ask yourself 3 questions:

1.  What do we enjoy to eat?

2.  What do I enjoy to cook?

3.  How busy is the week ahead?

OK, so I get that the answer to question 1 can change from minute to minute when it comes to feeding kids.  But, there are generally a few no fuss, family favourites that kids are happy to eat on rotation.  So too, question 2.  All very well and good to plan a nice butterflied Portuguese chicken, but if you can’t bear touching whole raw chickens (the one thing I simply cannot prepare…..all those little goosebumps……#shudder) then you’re not going to enjoy the cooking process and so back to the cycle of frustration and stress.  Question 3 will decide whether it’s a no frills, basic and easy meal plan, or if you’ll have some more time for shopping, preparing and cooking. 

Now to the actual planning bit.

Choose a weekly BASIC plan and elaborate:

Remember point 1?  It’s just dinner.  So lets knock 3 or 4 meals off every plan in one go.  Pick 4 of your families favourite meals and they become the foundation of your weekly plan.  Yes, I’m saying it.  They can eat pasta and sauce, every Tuesday night, for an entire year.

In doing so, you’ve got a weekly plan foundation and it means you only need to come up with 3 different meals a week.  Seems much less daunting doesn’t it? Break those 3 remaining meals down further into categories and you’ll breeze through.  Let’s say your foundation meals are Monday through Thursday; leaving Friday night and the weekend to sort.  Easy.  Friday = homemade takeaway.  Saturday = something a bit swish that the family can help with.  Sunday = slow cooker (be sure and do a big batch so you can divide and freeze and be even MORE organised!)

KonMari your cookbooks

Here’s my fatal error.  I pull out all my gorgeous cookbooks and spread them out on the table, thinking I’ll enjoy a lovely few hours flicking through them, gaining insight and inspiration for my meal plan, all while sipping a cup of tea as a cool breeze blows through the lounge room window.


Total overwhelm, tea going cold as I frantically flick through 40 cookbooks and it’s too bloody cold to have the window open because it’s 11pm on a Sunday night and I realise I have no idea what to make for the next day, let alone the next week.

When it comes to finding recipe inspo, keep it simple

Choose ONE of your favourite cookbooks, and plan from that, (we know a good one).  Then, the following week, choose another. And so on.

The same applies to online.  If your Pinterest boards are overflowing with recipes, you’ll end up down a rabbit hole.  Pick one board, or one fave cooking site and stick with it.

Outsource the lot:

Alternatively, take all the pressure off in one click and let us do the lot for you.

Us mamas at MamaBake have developed Once-A-Week cooking plans for mums just like you.  Our cooking plans means you cook once, eat all week.

The meals, recipes and shopping lists are all included in each plan AND we give you full instructions so that you can cook a weeks worth of meals up in around 3/4 hours just once a week.  So yes, cook once eat all week. What’s not to love?  

JOIN MamaBake (it’s free) for more meal planning tips and recipes your family will love!

once a week cooking plans


fast weeknights examples

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