Hate Meal Planning? Try This.

As a Registered Nutritionist, I can more often than not, be found talking food and nutrition. While I may discuss a growing number of unique topics, I have noticed a resounding theme to the audience chatter. 

 

mother and daughter cooking together

“I know what foods are healthy, I just don’t know what to do with them.”

“I’m not creative enough to meal plan, I end up making the same things over and over.”

“I don’t have time to meal plan/cook/meal prep/etc.”

“If you were there to tell me what to make, I would do it!”

Sound familiar? 

I get it. I may be a Nutrition Nut, Foodie, and one who LOVES to be in the kitchen, I have my days (okay, weeks…) where I am completely lacking the motivation to get my act together, make a plan and hit the supermarket with one of our little ones. Yet when I skip this key step to our family’s mealtime organization, I find myself facing the daily stress of WHAT’S FOR DINNER!? For me, it is worse facing that daily dilemma than simply sucking it up and hitting the store over the weekend. 

If I can’t find the drive to just ante up and do it, I rely on someone else’s meal plan for the week. Or grab an old favorite that I happened to save. Have you ever tried copying a plan from a favorite blog, supermarket, or magazine? You could even subscribe to a meal planning service and truly take the guesswork out of the game.

I have tried just about everything and I am happy to report that I have LOVED the experiences! While some plans did not always match up with our family’s tastebuds, each one pushed us to try something new – and THAT is something I LOVE. In hopes of saving you the trial and error of scoping out each option, I have summarized a few of my favorites here. Let me know what you think! Or if you have tried one yourself, let me know on Facebook, Twitter, or IG! I would love to learn from your experience myself! 

Top 5 Meal Planning Options

Six O’Clock Scramble

The Scramble helped our family maintain a touch of order and plenty of nourishment after welcoming each one of our boys into our family. While I did not cook each meal suggested for each night, the customization available allowed me to handpick those that I felt I could handle preparing for the week. 

This subscription service provides you with 7 weekly suppertime meal options (including sides!) with options to tweak it to your own preferences aplenty. Not only can you select from a gluten free, vegetarian, or original meal plan, you can then pick and choose which meals you would like to make for the week out of the 7 provided. You are also able to alter the amounts to ensure you have recipes sized appropriately for your family (goodbye wasted food!). The cherry on top? The ingredients are then broken down by category into a well organized shopping list to help you save time at the store! 

You can get all of this for as little as $2 per week (after your FREE trial of course!). A worthwhile investment if you ask me! Check out one of Aviva’s sample menu‘s to get a feel for her style. Our family has found many of our favorite recipes directly from this site – and my kiddos definitely appreciate having healthy dessert options included more regularly 🙂 

Parents Magazine

Like many parents, I subscribe to good ol’ Parents Magazine and I tend to devour each page once my kiddos go to bed. One of my favorite sections? The recipes! They tend to provide realistic, kid-friendly options, more often than not, in the form of a weekly meal plan (if I had a dollar for every one of their recipes I have ripped out???). 

While this option will not do the dirty work of making your grocery list, you can customize it as much as you would like by skipping certain recipes or adding those from issues passed. Either way, you will be pushing your family to try something new in the form of a recipe simple enough for a busy mom (thank you!). 

Two Peas and Their Pod

As this dynamic duo has created a blog with nearly 800,000 followers on Facebook, I have a feeling you may have heard of it. The recipes are not always the most nutritious (Hello, White Chocolate Oreo Pudding Cookies – always a birthday hit!), but they certainly have their share of good-for-you (even vegetarian) options (one of my go-to recipes is their Spicy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili)!

While their meal plans are not exactly organized (you still have to click on each recipe to find the ingredients) and may not always cover your mealtime bases for the week (Cinnamon Bun Saturday? While delicious, I would still need to hunt down a solid meal for the day.), the recipes are always delicious and there certainly is something to be said for TRUST in a food-focused site. And their food photog? Mouth watering. 

So. Good.

Super Healthy Kids

This service is certainly inspiring! Providing breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, this subscription has EVERYTHING. Though I must admit, it is a bit intimidating even for me. While the recipes are adorable and although I am going to be prepping all of those meals/snacks regardless, it is a bit daunting to SEE them all on paper. Eek! 

Regardless, I still want to share this Registered Dietitian created meal planning service as it certainly offers us incredible insight into the creativity mealtime can offer. Be sure to check it out

Meijer Meal Plan

Okay, I get it. Meijer stores are not nationwide (yet), but they offer an awesome service from their team of dietitians and I know that other supermarket chains offer the same!

Meijer offers weekly meal plans created by their Healthy Living Advisors that are based on the week’s sales! Talk about saving you TIME and MONEY! The recipe complexity is usually pretty basic (gourmet grilled cheese, mushroom and steak fajitas, grilled salmon, etc.) and there are others based solely on convenience items (thank you, pizza and bagged salad night!). Making this meal plan more than manageable for busy families!

 

That’s a wrap for me when it comes to meal planning resources. I hope this helps you to get a balanced meal on the table for your family with just a little less effort. Cheers!

Jessica Corwin, MPH, RDN


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