Before I actually had children, I envisioned peaceful mornings with an extravagant breakfast. A full feast of pancakes, bacon, and freshly squeezed orange juice. We would giggle together and the children would get along perfectly. Four kids later and I realize managing my home isn’t always rainbows and sunshine.
When I had my second child, I remember feeling desperate for some guidance when it comes to meal planning. Since my husband worked at home, we spent most of our time eating there together as a family. Eating at home encouraged us to save money and enjoy each other’s company.
After my third child was born, I started something new that has totally transformed our meal time. It may not work for your family but it has helped our family save money and eliminate food waste.
So, what is my secret?
Tip #1: Setting a meal schedule
We do our schedule weekly to keep things simple and easier for me to memorize. Every night (seriously…EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.) before my children go to bed they ask me what’s for breakfast in the morning. By memorizing our food schedule I’m able to simply reply without the extra frustration of just not knowing (try explaining to a four and five year why you don’t know what’s for breakfast the next morning…it’s harder than it sounds).
By following a set schedule for breakfast and lunch, I know what to buy each week for groceries. It’s easier for me to keep track of what we need to repurchase instead of buying things that we still have plenty of.
Probably one of my favorite reasons for following this method is that it doesn’t require much thinking. I’m a mother of four small children, a have a home to care for, I run this blog plus my shop Little Arrows Boutique, and I’m involved in the children’s ministry at our church. I’ve got a lot on my mind. When I have demanding little ones constantly telling me they want food it can be extremely overwhelming.
Tip #2: Find meals that everyone loves
I know that it can be hard to please everyone (especially if you have a large family) because kids (and adults) are picky. But thankfully I’ve found a few meals that all of my kids will eat. I’ve learned that certain foods should be left off our list because not everyone enjoys them. We live on a tight budget and I want to avoid throwing food away as much as possible.
For example, I have two kids that love steel cut oatmeal but I have one child that prefers instant or rolled oats (the other two children like all three choices). Obviously, I’m going to choose to do instant or rolled oats so that I can avoid throwing away a whole serving of oatmeal and so that my daughter is getting a healthy breakfast.
This may take some trial and error to figure out but it’s worth it, trust me.
Tip #3: Tweak your menu for your current season and/or passions:
When it comes to feeding our children, we all do things differently. Some of us have a passion for cooking from scratch and others don’t find enjoyment in doing that. God created us all with different passions and that’s okay.
I’ve found that the current season that I’m in depends on how much I enjoy cooking. When I’ve got a newborn, I tend to buy more frozen foods like chicken tenders and frozen waffles. When I get a routine down, I prefer to make homemade chicken tenders and waffles. It’s almost always cheaper to made food like this homemade, so I usually choose that route. `
This current season that I’m in is really busy in the morning when everyone wakes up hungry. If I’m able to plan ahead the night before, I can provide an easy grab and go breakfast for the next morning. Some of my go-to make ahead breakfasts are boiled eggs (super easy made in the instant pot), yogurt parfaits, banana bread, and banana oatmeal bars.
For pizza lunches, I buy loaves of french bread on clearance for Wal-Mart for $.50-$.60 a loaf. One loaf will make multiple mini pizzas for the kids and I’ll have plenty of bread left over for quick dinners. This is almost as simple and easy and taking a frozen pizza out of the box and into the oven.
Make your own decisions on whether you choose homemade or frozen. Maybe you are like me and like to have both options. Find what works for your family and be okay with that.
For your free printable, click the picture below.
I’ve also included a blank menu if you would like to add in your own meal ideas.
I hope that this will help you take control of your meal planning and make your job as a mom a little easier!
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