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Weekly Meal Planning Tips for Busy Families

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With today’s hectic schedules, it can be hard for busy families to save money and eat healthy, but it is possible with a little weekly planning and preparation. When you don’t plan you may find yourself shopping several days a week, instead of once or twice a week, and it's far more cost effective to buy larger quantities for 1-2 weeks. The meals should be made up of the five healthy food groups and as well-balanced as you can possibly can. To make preparation a bit easier, mix up with meals with both hot and cold, and include salads and fruits and vegetables as much as possible.

Plan and Organize Your Meals for the Week:
The weekend is the perfect time to spend with the family to plan and prepare meals for the coming week. Find out what everyone in the family likes to eat and figure out a way you can make family meals that everyone will enjoy. This saves time preparing separate meals for picky eaters. If you’re struggling to think up ideas, do some research on the internet using your family’s favorite ingredients.

The weekend is also a good time to look at the schedule for the week. If you know, for example, that your kids have band practice on Tuesday and swimming class on Thursday, then on those days you’ll want to have already prepared meals available to thaw and bake, e.g. lasagna, one pot meals, etc. You can also plan to take the family out to dinner at a healthy family restaurant. The key is to plan, so that you can still save some time and eat healthier meals.

Stock up on Staples:
Staple foods such as potatoes, rice, couscous and pasta can help to add some creativity to your meals. They are also the easiest to buy in large quantities and every household would do well to have a large supply on hand. What’s nice about these staples is that you can still create delicious meals without adding fresh meat or fish.

Make meal planning easy with color coding:
At the end of the day, a simple rule can be used to plan your meals. Think of the three colors – red, white and green. Red is for the meat, fish or protein, white is for potatoes, rice or another staple and green is for the vegetables. If you know this, it's very easy to plan ahead for the days that you have to cook and know how much of what you need.

Shop local in the Baltimore metro area:

We are fortunate in the Baltimore area to have many choices for grocery shopping. Here is a list of locally owned and operated Maryland supermarkets and delivery services.

Find a local Farmer’s market near you
http://visitmaryland.org/events/pages/marylandfarmersmarkets.aspx

Hometown Harvest – fresh organic groceries delivered to your door
http://www.hometownharvest.com/

Mars Supermarkets
http://www.marsfood.com/

Klein's ShopRite of Maryland
http://www.shoprite.com/member_klein/

Baltimore Organized Families writer, Jacquie Ross has been writing for The Examiner since 2009. Please check out her other articles related to decluttering, organization and time management. Jacquie, a professional organizer, also shares organizing tips in her Timely Tips e-newsletter. Subscribers are eligible to receive a free email declutter tips course when they sign up for her newsletter.

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