If you have a busy family, coordinating schedules is likely your focus, and with all of the running around it takes to juggle everyone's activities, meals can easily become the last thing that you think about. You may find yourself scavenging for meals on the go or trying to throw together dinner at the last minute using whatever's in the fridge, freezer or pantry. While everyone gets fed, the whole thing can be super stressful.
The good news is that with some family meal planning, you can take the drama out of figuring out what's for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and creating a plan is easier than you think. In this guide, we'll explore the challenges of meal planning for busy families, explain why it's worth it to plan ahead and give you tips on how to get started.
Understanding the Challenges
If you've put off making a weekly family meal plan, you're not alone. Many people struggle to plan for the following reasons.
There's Not Enough Hours in the Day
When you're already pressed for time, meal planning might feel like the impossible dream. This is especially true for single parent meal planning, since there's only one adult to ensure that everything gets done around the house. Fortunately, there are many tools and services available to make meal planning quicker and easier. As a result, what used to take hours can now be completed in a fraction of the time.
There's a Strict Food Budget
With prices soaring at the grocery store, it may seem like preparing meals at home is impossible. The truth is that eating at home only feels more expensive. Because you buy groceries for many meals at once, the total at the checkout line may be high, but when you compare the cost to buying the same types of food as takeout, it's actually around 50% less expensive. And if you frequently have meals delivered to your home, you may save up to 75% by making the same things in your kitchen.
Everyone Has Different Needs and Tastes
Another hurdle to meal planning is the food preferences and needs of your family members. You may be meal planning for kiddos who are picky eaters. They might not like certain consistencies or flavors.
With so many varying needs and tastes, you may feel like it's impossible to plan meals that will appeal to everyone, but in truth, it just makes planning more important. Planning can allow you to choose meals that can be customized for each family member so that you're not trying to juggle multiple lunch or dinner at once.
Benefits of Meal Planning
As you can see, the obstacles to meal planning aren't as difficult to cope with as you might think, and there are some great reasons why it's worth it to try, including:
- Time management: By investing some time in meal planning, you can get meals made more quickly and have more time available to see to other matters.
- Less stress: Planning ahead can make meal prep less stressful, so you can look forward to eating with your family.
- Family activity: Everyone can get involved in planning and bond in the process.
- More variety: Meal planning can get you out of food ruts and make eating at home or at school more exciting for everyone.
Getting Started with Meal Planning
When you're ready to start creating a weekly family meal plan, follow these steps:
Set Clear Goals and Objectives
What are your biggest goals for family meal planning? Do you need recipes that you can complete in 30 minutes or less? Foods that can cook in the crock pot while you're at work? Dishes that can be customized for special diets? Establish clear objectives from the beginning, so that you have something to strive toward.
Use a Calendar
To keep everything organized, put together a weekly family meal plan calendar. You can purchase a paper calendar or use an app for your planning. Writing everything down will help you stick to your plan.
Rely on Resources and Tools
There are dozens of meal planning tools available to help you map out your busy family meal plan. Many even generate grocery shopping lists for you. Fortunately for you Yumble can provide ready to go, prepackaged lunch and the ability to customize and build your own lunch.
Meal Planning Tips and Strategies
Follow these tips to make meal planning simpler:
- Batch cook and prep: If your schedule allows, cook and prep as much as you can over the weekend. For example, you might chop up vegetables or prepare entire meals that you can serve throughout the week.
- Establish theme nights: Make your weekly meal plan fun with theme nights like Build Your Own Taco Tuesday or Personalized Pizza Bar Thursday.
- Use Yumble: Yumble Build Your Own Lunch Bags are a great way to simplify meal planning for kids. Children can select their own entrees, veggie inspired side, fruits and snacks from a range of delicious options that have long shelf lives. Everything arrives pre-packed and ready to enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Tips for Busy Parents on the Go
When you're on the go, meal planning doesn't have to go out the window. Follow these tips to stick to your plan even when your week will have you frequently on the road.
- Try healthy dine-out options: Research restaurants in the areas where you will be and find healthy options that you can pick up easily. Add these meals to your planning calendar just as you would at-home dinners.
- Use leftovers for quick dining: Bring along leftovers that can be enjoyed cold or kept warm in insulated containers for a quick meal wherever you are.
- Meal Plan with Yumble: Give your kids a tasty complete meal that they can eat on the go with Yumble Ready to Go Lunch Bags. There are several pre-packed bags to choose from, and each contains a kid-friendly main, veggie inspired side, fruit and snack that can be enjoyed anywhere.
Plan Meals for Your Busy Family with Yumble
Family meal planning is possible when you set goals and use tools and resources to simplify the process. Let the above meal planning ideas for busy families inspire you and get started today, so you can get on your way to enjoying delicious meals with much less stress.