3 Simple Hacks to Plan Healthy Family Meals

Meal Planning Hacks

Thinking about a fresh start when it comes to making a healthy meal plan for your family?

A couple of months ago, I was thinking pretty hard about how to better prepare healthy meals and snacks for my people. I.e. something besides chips, macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.

(Don’t judge 😉)

If you’ve ever stood in front of your fridge, hoping that this time when you opened the door, you’d find thawing meat, or maybe a little inspiration, or even a ready-made meal you miraculously forgot about, I totally get where you’re coming from.

But it takes more than wishful thinking to make the changes we want. Healthy meals don’t just happen!

You have to find healthy recipes everyone likes, make a list, buy the ingredients, and then actually prepare it (rather than let that poor spinach wilt in the dark corners of the fridge).

Otherwise, your good intentions—and money, and perhaps your sanity—go out with the garbage.

Want to know the #1 rule for eating healthier? A good plan.

When you know what’s for dinner every day, you’ll be more efficient, less stressed, and you’ll have more margin in your life. While meals won’t throw themselves together, you might be surprised at how much easier (and even enjoyable) it feels.

After a lot of trial and error, I think I’m finally getting into a sustainable rhythm with healthy meal planning.

And what’s more, I believe that simple, realistic meal planning is attainable for everyone. Yep, even when you’re really, really busy.

Related: 3 Homemaking Tips When You Feel Like You’re Failing

Healthy meal planning for families

Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which won’t change your price but will share some commission. See here for more information.

Our Meal Planning Jumpstart

When it came to meal planning, we had been in a rut for a while. 

I tried different meal planning systems, but they always felt too complicated. I’d end up making a bunch of new recipes that were received with mixed results. A lot of food would get thrown away, and I would get burned out from trying to do too much.

I needed a different system that I could easily customize with my family’s preferences that was simple to implement. When I have a good process in place, I don’t have to waste the mental energy and loads of time on keeping my people alive on something besides chicken nuggets.

So the timing of the release of this collection of meal planning resources couldn’t have been better.

Healthy Meal Planning Bundle 2019

Using some of the resources I discovered, here are three hacks I discovered that completely streamlined my meal planning process.

1. Make a Master List of Favorite Meals

I was surprised that when I sat down and wrote out the recipes I was already using, we already have nearly a month’s worth of dinners that my family likes! (I thought it was more like five). Next to each meal I made a list of ingredients that I can easily refer to whenever I’m planning out menus for the week.

Related: The Ultimate Time Management Guide for Moms

In addition to dinners, I made lists of lunches, snacks and breakfasts that are grab-and-go or can be put together in about five minutes. (Again, I was surprised how many ideas there were besides PB&J sandwiches and Cheerios.) I also listed some breakfasts that are more time-intensive but that I can make in large batches on the weekends. Lastly, I’m working on a running list of recipes (mostly breakfast and snacks) that I can make ahead and freeze.

Voila! I posted all of those on the side of the fridge, and we have lots of nutritious ideas for breakfasts, lunches and snacks that keep my people happy and don’t make my brain hurt.

2. Create a Food Inventory

Once I made the master meal list, it was super easy to create a list of food items I always want to have on hand in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry. These are the items that make easy meals and snacks and are ingredients I frequently need for our favorite meals (diced tomatoes, onions, spices, etc.) I simplified my grocery list instantly.

And of course, this prompted me to clean out and reorganize my fridge, freezer and pantry. Glad that’s over with.

I’m also keeping a list by the refrigerator with the current leftovers and the dates they were made so that I can try and consume everything or freeze it before it goes bad. This has gone a long way preventing us from wasting food.

3. Block Out Time for Planning, Prep and Shopping

One of the biggest hurdles I had to healthy meals was just feeling burned out with overcomplicated recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I needed a simpler plan that I could iterate each week without thinking too hard and wouldn’t require a ton of time.

To combat overwhelm, I looked carefully at my schedule and blocked out time for meal planning, prep and shopping each week.

Here’s my new system that has worked beautifully:

  • Over the weekend: plan the following week’s meals and grocery list, order groceries online. Try 1–2 new recipes a week from the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle.
  • Monday: pickup groceries, organize refrigerator.
  • Weekday evenings: make dinner from recipes I’m mostly familiar with. Chop most of the vegetables for the whole week in one sitting Have the kids each help one night (we’re excited to do the kids cooking e-course that comes in the bundle!). Make large batches for leftovers.
  • Friday: have a 2-hour baking and prep session for breakfasts, breads and snacks.
  • Saturday morning: make cooked breakfast with leftovers.

I’m excited about this system because it is tailored to my life and my schedule. That’s why I am love, love, loving this plan: I’ve tailored it to work for me!

If you’re in a place where meal planning is overwhelming and you feel stuck, don’t give up! Whether you need to tweak the system you already use, or you need to start from scratch, the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle has everything you need if you want to kickstart your year with healthier family meals.

Plus, it has paid for itself multiple times over in the money I saved on groceries!

Questions About the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle

Are the recipes any good (will my kids like them)? Or do they taste like cardboard?

The recipes in the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle have been curated from many of my favorite food bloggers and online chefs. Many of these recipe creators are also parents and know your kids will eat healthy food if it actually tastes good.

I can’t vouch that EVERY recipe is good, but I’ve gone through enough of them to know that this is a very kid-friendly deal. Trust me, I’d know 🙃

Are the meals quick and easy to make? 

Yes, they are. Otherwise I’m out.

We’re gluten-free (or vegan, or paleo, or keto, etc.) at our house. Will I find recipes that fit our family?

Yes! We eat mostly plant-based food in our home, so this was a concern I had as well. One really nifty feature is that you can search the recipes by category, food allergen, and health goals in one convenient, clickable index. They’ve made sure to include plenty for every style of eating and with over 1000 in the collection, there are plenty to suit every dietary need.

What exactly do I get in this bundle?

This bundle is a collection of 12 eCookbooks, 5 eBooks, 5 eCourses and printables. Inside this bundle, you will find resources with over 1000 recipes, ready-made meal plans, planning tips, and printables—all for $37.

What if it’s awful and I hate it?

Although Ultimate Bundles has an extremely low return rate, there are some people who it doesn’t work for. That’s why they offer a 100% happiness guarantee. If you don’t love it, just email [email protected] to ask for a full refund within 30 days of purchase.

I bought it last year. Should I buy it again?

The team at Ultimate Bundles used feedback from last year’s customers to make this version even better. They created a clickable, convenient index of all new recipes so you can find the recipes and ingredients you’re looking for more easily. Nutritional information is included for every recipe. And all recipes are now standardized in beautiful, well-formatted and easy to use digital cookbooks.

Convinced? Check out the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle here:

Healthy Meal Planning Bundle

Still Not Sure How You Can Make A Healthy Meal Plan for Your Family?

I would love to hear your questions and comments on this! What are your biggest obstacles to healthy meal planning as a busy mom?

Hey, I'm Gina!

I’m a wife and mom of five, with kids ages toddler to teenager. I’m created in the image of God, made whole in Jesus. In this online space, I help others overcome the overwhelm all of us face when navigating this messy, beautiful journey we call life. Want to join us?

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