• Guest Blogger

Crushing the meal planning process

by Manda in Wisconsin


Two of the most stressful words to hear as a mom of 3 kiddos, 5 and under, are the words “I’m hungry”. Especially when those words come at a time that I am not feeling as prepared to deal with the solution.

Did you know that if you count 3 meals, plus 2 snacks a day, you have fed one kid over 7,000 times between years 1-5! It’s easy to see why parents are feeling so strapped when it comes to feeding their children and themselves. And why it can be easy to buy and consume things that are more convenient, costlier, and often not healthier.


While I don’t profess to be Super Mom (not even close!), I have identified a couple areas in my life that I have direct control over, that can make or break my week as a mom. Have you ever had one of those days where you’re just CRUSHING Mom Goals? Imagine a whole week of that! I know my biggest stress every day centers around what to feed all the people in my life, and by identifying this ONE thing, I was then able to create a plan. AND implement it.


For my family, coming up with a strategy that would save us money at the grocery store, reduce dining out, and increase healthier eating, took a drastic change in how we dealt with food. We were reactionary, only really thinking about food when we were hungry. Of course, having kids will quickly wake a person up to the fact that you can’t thrive this way.


I did some homework via Google, and came up with a plan that at first seemed daunting, but now is a breeze. My family now uses a monthly meal planning system, that requires me to only think about meal planning four times a month when I do my shopping, as opposed to EVERY DAY. I figure out what protein we are going to eat on each day of the week for the month, and then sit down once a week to do my grocery list, and just fill in some of the blanks depending upon what the week’s sales are and what staples/perishables I have on hand that need to be used up. Because I already decided what proteins we’re eating, a huge part of the “planning” process has been taken care of in advance. Pick a quiet Sunday morning with a cup of coffee to sit down and plan out the month. Your future self will thank you over and over!


Lastly, one of the best things you can do in the meal planning process is build leftover night into the schedule. I will put one in after a meal or two that I know usually yield enough for several meals, but don’t always get eaten. This reduces food waste and saves you from having to cook. In our house, NOT eating leftovers is a huge no, no.


Start small, aim high. Feeding your family healthy food doesn’t have to break the bank. It just takes a little bit of planning on the front end, to free yourself up for the rest of the month!

About Manda

Manda is a mother to three children, all 5 and under! She and her husband live in the Northwoods of Wisconsin but have lived and traveled all over the country. Manda has a Master’s Degree in Business Management and Human Resource Management, and spent much of her early career working in both the Ski/Snowboard and Team Building Industries. These days, however, she is a stay-at-home mom doing homeschooling with her kiddos. When not doing home improvement projects, she can be found mountain biking, hiking, reading, playing music, or cooking new and exciting recipes in her pressure cooker.

Want more ways to feed your family healthy food on a budget? wichealth.org has a free online lesson called Maximizing Food Dollars. Find it on wichealth.org the Healthy Families category!