You guys know that meal planning is my jam. I rely on it heavily to keep our weeks rolling smoothly and as a result, I’ve gotten quite good at it over the past several years. Toot, toot, goes my own horn. I have a system that works well under normal circumstances. But these are obviously not normal circumstances.
I’m not a hoarder, but I have set us up with a well-stocked pantry and fridge. I’m grateful that we have the ability to do that. Our local farmers market opened up early to provide an open-air market option for us to get fresh produce, milk, eggs, etc. I’m going there once a week to restock on the fresh stuff. I’m making it all work the best I can, fully aware that this twist in my usual routine is nothing more than a slight inconvenience.
Still, it’s a new challenge to me and I imagined it was for many of you as well. So I asked my Instagram friends what tactics they were using to manage answering the repetitive “what’s for dinner” question, day in and day out, in this new environment. And I was blown away by the excellent suggestions and reminders. So here they are, condensed into the 24 most popular meal planning tips from real moms getting food on the table during this crazy time.
- Stock up slowly every time you go. My grocery store isn’t limiting foods (yet), but I find just grabbing two of the item when I shop helps stock my pantry while still leaving plenty for others.
- Limit grocery visits. I’m only going once every two weeks and saving the heartier vegetables (potatoes, onions, cabbage) for the second week.
- No leftover goes to waste! We eat leftovers for lunch (and sometimes breakfast), keep veggie scraps in the freezer broth bag, and roast whatever random vegetables are in the fridge at the end of the week.
- We use Home Chef and it’s a life saver! We are eating good food and not stressed about what’s in the grocery stores.
- Meal planning for us looks like this: buy whatever lean meat is available, keep pantry items stocked to make marinades, lots of frozen veggies, and keep rice, quinoa, and frozen bread stocked. We are grilling the meats mostly because it tastes so good with minimal seasoning.
- Ordering take out to support local small businesses. We do this more our favorite local pizza joint at least once a week.
- Reverse meal planning. I go shopping and buy the items that are available, then look through it all at hope to plan out our meals for the week.
- I started a veggie garden! I started with herbs and liked it so much, I’m going bigger.
- Every night is home made pizza night. The kids have never been happier.
- Thrive Market is my saving grace. I add things to my cart when I need them, then check out once I hit free shipping or a good free sample. Read my full review of Thrive HERE
- Write down freezer and pantry inventory and tape it to the side of the fridge. I mark off the items as I use them so I always have an accurate list of what I have without digging through the freezer or pantry.
- Chopped style! I make it a game and pull out what I have and get creative.
- Plan out only two days at a time. That way we still know what’s for dinner but I’m not trying to predict what I’ll have five days from now.
- I am chilling out on my usual standards. We are eating more rice, pasta, mac ‘n cheese, chicken nuggets, etc. We are having daily smoothies for nutrition.
- Every few days I make a list of meals I have all the ingredients to make then each morning I pick one and defrost the necessary ingredients. We use Farm Fresh to get quality meats delivered so I don’t have to stress about what more store does or doesn’t have.
- I am keeping a log of our meals rather than making a plan so I can see what we’ve been having so we aren’t too repetitive on grains or beans. I switch them up every day so we get a variety.
- Hello Fresh! We get the 4 person dinner option 4 days a week and that takes care of most of our groceries. We just supplement for breakfast and snacks.
- I’m shopping my pantry and just buying fresh fruit, vegetables, milk and eggs. I end up googling random things like quinoa and sausage and have found some recipes by doing that. My goal is no waste.
- Once a week I thoroughly comb through all my food (freezer/pantry/fridge) and ask myself, what can I make while using the least number of items? I make a grocery list for the needed items but first try to see if I can swap out for something I already have on hand.
- I’m roasting whatever veggies I have on hand at the beginning of the week, then throwing them into main dishes. We mix and match and have gotten very comfortable with leftovers. Meal planning has gone by the wayside and we’re just winging it.
- Buying fresh fruit and veggies and pairing it with whatever we have available from our Butcher Box!
- I’m going through my recipe binder and finding new or more complicated options. I’m choosing 5 each week and purchasing groceries once a week to make them all. Then we do easy breakfasts and lunches, then I cook a good dinner. I like using this time to cook recipes I’ve wanted to try but never had the time to.
- We stick daily dinner themes and use what we have: Monday chicken, Tuesday tacos, Wednesday beef, Thursday fish, Friday pizza, Saturday and Sunday air fryer.
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- I’m checking expiration dates daily to see what needs to be used or moved to the freezer. I figure the less we waste, the more money we save.
These were so helpful to me to hear how other moms are making it work during quarantine, and I hope it helped give you a few tips and tricks to employ as well. Now excuse me while I go make a master list off all our freezer items for easy referencing (I loved that one!)…
What’s helping you get dinner on the table during this crazy time?