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4 Meal Planning Hacks for Busy Seasons
August 22, 2023
Simple menu planning is my favorite – decide on meals, shop for meals, make the meals. Sounds easy, right? It is, until you toss in sports, school pickups, and other schedules. I’m still doing my traditional meal planning and grocery shopping, but I’ve also added a couple simple meal components. By thinking ahead a bit, I’m able to save time and energy in the evenings – just what we need in the fall!
I’ve added a couple new favorites that are super simple and easy and thought you might find them helpful too.
Quick breads, granola, hard-boiled eggs, and overnight oats are some of our favorites, but not at the same time. Choose one or two to make for the week and use it all week long. Quick bread – currently zucchini bread – is a great once for breakfast and packed lunches. Turn it into muffins or keep it as a bread – both are easy to grab and go. Granola we love for eating by the handful, with milk, or as a yogurt and fruit topper. Overnight oats is another favorite – portion it out and keep in the fridge for an easy breakfast – I use the ratio of 2 cups of oats to 3 cups of almond milk for 4 servings. Add in a couple tablespoons of chia seeds, a dash of vanilla and you have a treat!
I’ve been buying large packages of chicken from Costco and cooking it all up at once – either in the Instant Pot and shredding it with a hand mixer or marinating and grilling it. This saves money and time and I always have leftovers to freeze or eat during the week. Ground beef also works great this way – cook up 3-4 pounds at a time, use some and freeze the rest into recipe-sized portions.
The Berry Bowl
This is something I started doing a few years ago and we love it – wash up a bunch of berries, dry them and put them in a bowl. Put the bowl in the fridge and pull it out for meals as needed. It’s an instant side dish for dinner, snack during the day, and dessert. Simple and it lasts in our house for a couple days and then gets repeated every few days.
Reverse Meal Planning
Simplifying meals is always a good idea when things get busy. Through the years I’ve experimented with all sorts of menu planning, food prepping and freezer stocking through the years. I usually just use a simple formula of a protein, a simple starch like rice or potatoes some nights, and fruit and/or veggies. I’ve been reverse meal prepping – all this is is making extra for dinner and then saving it for leftovers. BUT instead of just putting everything in separate containers, I pre-plated up the meals.
Here’s an example: Grilled Greek Chicken, green beans, rice. We had this for dinner and then I boxed up the leftovers for lunches or dinner for older kids coming home from games. I also had extra chicken that I put in a container and extra rice – these could be added to a salad or tossed in the freezer too!
A little change in how you approach meal planning might help you see meal times a little differently too! What’s your favorite meal planning hack for fall?