I know how difficult it is to put healthy meals on the table night after night – I am a working mom, too!  Life is busy – work, family and kids activities – it can be overwhelming trying to make it all work.  You are not alone, we all struggle with this.   But I believe it is important to give our families healthy options and I’ve discovered that all it takesebook-blog-graphic is organization.

Think about it – we eat, on average, 21 meals per week.  If you can plan out 15 of them – that’s great!  You will get a few more meals from leftovers and before you know it, planning a week’s worth of meals will be a habit. It will seem like a lot of work upfront – but I promise that if you stick with it, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll also find efficiencies in your kitchen.  Taking the time to plan your meals in advance gives you more control, saves you time and money.  Meal planning can also help you eat a more nutritious, well-balanced diet.streaming movie Hotel de Grote L

Here are my top 9 Meal Planning Tips.  And to help you get started, download our New Year, New You Meal & Grocery Planner.

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  1. Plan dinners first. I like to plan out dinners for the week and then count on  leftovers for a few lunches.  That leaves me with just a couple of lunches to cover and breakfast.
  2. Automate Breakfast & Lunch. Choose just a couple of things and plan them every day.  Smoothies, oatmeal, boiled eggs for breakfast and soup and salad for lunch.  Find  items that you can make ahead of time and your family can eat all week.  Taking a little extra time on the weekend to prep will make the week much easier.
  3. Enlist your slow cooker. Make your slow cooker a trusty sous chef – it’s great for big cuts of meat or a whole chicken, but also great for vegetables (beets are my favorite) and soup!  One good slow cooker recipe can last for a couple dinners and lunches.  Not sure where to start?  Try our Slow Cooker Spice Blends – they make using your slow cooker simple!
  4. Plan ahead and make freezer meals. Not familiar with freezer meals?  They are recipes you prep ahead of time and freeze.  Then, when you are ready to use them, just defrost overnight and throw into the slow cooker.  Dinner will be ready when you get home. One afternoon a month is all you need to prepare 4-8 freezer meals. Look for great recipes online – just Google slow cooker freezer meals.
  5. Keep a list of your family’s favorite recipes. Keeping a list of my family’s favorite meals has saved me more than once when I am at a loss for meals to plan or when my week gets busy before it even starts.  I use this list to refresh my memory and to record new recipes.
  6. Schedule an afternoon to prep for the week. I like to spend a few hours either Saturday or Sunday afternoon wrapping my head around the week, preparing breakfast and getting a head start on any of the meals that I can prep ahead for. I always make a big batch of soup and I try to throw something in the slow cooker that will cover a few meals.
  7. Clip Recipes. Use an application like Evernote to clip recipes you find online.  My husband sends me lots of recipes he wants to try – putting them all in evernote has created a resource for me to look at when I’m looking for a new recipe to try.
  8. Make it easy on your busy days. We all have those set days that are just busier than the rest.  For me it’s soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  So those days I make sure I’ve planned something really easy for dinner.  These are also good days to rely on slow cooker meals or leftovers.
  9. Give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.  You are doing a wonderful thing for your family.

It takes some time, but before long you’ll be a pro at Meal Planning and you may even come to enjoy it.  Meal Planning is one of my favorite weekly activities!  And remember, this is about progress, not perfection.  Be sure to check out our full line of products!  We make salt free, sugar free, quick cooking soups, side dishes, oatmeal and spices.  Find us online at www.garlicclovefoods.com.