As a new homeschooling parent, it might seem as if there are not enough hours in the day, especially when it comes to healthy cooking and meal prep. The hardest thing for me seemed to be thinking up nutritious lunches that my kids would eat. So, what did I do instead? I bought convenience foods, chips, and juice boxes. Guess what happened? I had sick children.
Juggling homeschooling was hard enough, but when I had to add in work, managing chores, chronic runny noses, ear infections, throat infections, and unfocused, hyperactive behavior, it wreaked havoc in my life.
It was then I decided to buckle down and get busy working on a healthy eating plan for my family. So…from my pantry to yours, here’s a step-by-step time-saving plan for introducing, prepping, and serving healthy meals to your family. I’ve also included new, tech-savvy assistance and some excellent links I’ve discovered along the way!
Healthy Meal Planning Tips for Busy Moms
- Purge the pantry. Getting rid of most processed foods that are full of sugar, dyes, additives, and preservatives is a step in the right direction. This includes white flour products and hydrogenated oils. These items offer no nutritional value to the family. They also cause a multitude of behavior issues in children and adults. Click here to find out more.
- Restock the pantry with the following healthy ingredients:
- Green leafy vegetables, yellow, red, orange, and green vegetables.
- Different varieties of beans, peas, and lentils (Organic canned are fine)
- Whole sprouted grains, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain organic oats
- Lean meat such as chicken, turkey, and fish (Red meat no more than once or twice per week)
- Lots of fresh fruit (especially apples)
- If it’s in a can, go for organic, or minimally processed.
- If it’s in a package, it needs to have real food ingredients, not chemical-laden ingredients.
- Ground Flax
- Unsalted nuts and nut butter (organic if available)
- For baking utilize brown rice flour, coconut, or almond flour. (You can also grind your own unbleached, whole wheat at certain places in different cities, but this is not convenient, or time-saving at this time in your life. Although, it is very healthy and should be considered.)
- Olive Oil, Organic Coconut Oil
- Heavy paper plates for lunch
- Lots of good herbs and spices for seasoning your food
- Create a Routine that includes: meal planning, list-making, grocery shopping, and meal prep. During scheduled times, have children doing chores, TV time, nap time, and quiet play in their room, or you can schedule these items during your kid’s extracurricular classes outside of the home. Much can also be done before the family gets up or after everyone goes to bed. Here’s a throwback podcast from Jamie to assist you with creating the perfect routine for your family.
- Try NOT to take the kids to the store with you when you begin this adventure. That way you will not be tempted to give in to desires until you break some bad food habits.
- Take advantage of grocery delivery services. You can even utilize coupons to cover the cost! See some of the apps below to find out how to do that.
- Include a set time in the routine to eat meals and snacks together. Grazing at home during the school day can promote overindulgence, a preoccupation with food, and mindless eating.
- Cooking at least three main course entrees on the same day saves a lot of time. See this great article on some great healthy meals to cook ahead.
- To be successful, you must provide easily accessible, healthy alternatives to junk food for your sweeties! Some suggestions are apples with nut butter, frozen whole-grain waffles to pop in the toaster with real maple syrup, whole-grain crackers with cheese, fruit and veggie smoothies (make ahead), multi-grain chips with different types of veggie-based dips, and raw veggies with homemade ranch dip or hummus.
- Serve breakfast and lunch on heavy paper plates or in paper bowls, to prevent prolonged clean-up periods. Utilize real plates for dinner only and let the kids help set the table and prepare the evening meal.
Meal Planning Made Simple
Implementing these steps may seem daunting at first, but you can quickly make it your routine, and the health of your family will improve. Perhaps you’ve tried meal planning before with little to no success. This falls into the “If at First, You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again” category. Once you find what works for you, you’ll be amazed at how 30 minutes or so of planning will help to simplify your life! For additional meal planning ease, download a FREE WEEKLY MEAL PLAN PRINTABLE!
Here are a few sample meal plans to help you get started.
CrockPot Meal Plans
A CrockPot or slow cooker is a busy homeschool mom’s best friend…well, maybe besides the coffee pot. When it comes to simplifying meals, it doesn’t get much more simple than to dump the ingredients into the pot in the morning and have dinner ready in the afternoon. Here are some ideas for easy and delicious CrockPot meals.
- Pot Roast
- Italian Chicken Pasta
- BBQ Sandwiches
- Sweet Salsa Chicken
- Lasagna Soup
- Ham and Potato Chowder
Meal Planning for Picky Eaters
Do have picky eaters in your household? (Don’t we all?) That can make meal times even more frustrating. If you want your loved ones to eat healthy foods while all they want to eat is Chef Boyardee ravioli, frozen pizzas, and chicken nuggets (Can you tell I’m speaking from experience?), here are a few suggestions of meals that may satisfy the healthiest of moms and the pickiest of eaters.
- Homemade Pizzas
- Homemade Hamburger Helper
- Bacon Mac and Cheese
- Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries
- Homemade Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
- Nacho Bar
Meal Planning Theme Nights
Don’t let “Theme Night” scare you. It doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. If you want to do a meal plan based on your favorite movies or recreate a favorite date, go for it. For this post, however, let’s keep it simple. Personally, picking a theme for each day of the week is my favorite way to meal plan. I can quickly throw together a month’s worth of meal planning just by giving each day a theme. Here are a few examples:
- Mexican Night
- Italian Night
- Fettuccini Alfredo
- Sandwich Night
- BBQ sandwiches
- Sloppy Joes
- Hamburgers and Hot Dogs
- Soup Night
- Beef Stew
- White Chicken Chili
- Ham and Potato Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Chicken Night
- Chicken Cordon Bleu
- Air-fried Chicken Nuggets/Strips
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Baked Chicken and Rice
- Pork Night
- Ham and Potato Casserole
- Country Ham, Biscuits, and Red Eye Gravy
- Smoked Sausage Hobo Pouches
- Beef Night
- Hamburger Steak and Gravy
- Beef Tenderloin and Mushroom Sauce
- Stir Fry and Brown Rice
- Salad with Steak Strips
- Meatless Night
- Loaded Baked Potatoes
- Black Bean Burgers
- Buddha Bowls
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Breakfast for Supper
- French Toast Casserole
- Biscuits and Gravy
As you can see, meal planning does not have to be difficult! Find some recipes your family will enjoy and plug them into different dates until you have a good rotation, and suddenly meals are one less thing you have to worry about! Don’t forget to download your Free Weekly Meal Plan Printable!
Teach Meal Planning in Your Homeschool
As you embark on meal planning and see how much it helps simplify this area of your life, why not take advantage of teaching this skill to your children? At our Homeschool.com Marketplace, you’ll find discount codes for life skills courses, including how to plan and cook! Visit today and see what there is to offer your family!