Meal Planning Tips for the Time Deprived Household

Few families have the luxury of sitting down to a homecooked meal every evening. The sad truth is that even with all the technology at our disposal, somehow there just aren’t enough hours in the day for all that goes into a nutritious meal. As a result, we are a nation of junk food junkies and drive-thru dummies. Time deprivation has reached epidemic proportions but never fear – there’s a cure!

Put the Fat Where It Belongs!

We are making ourselves and those big corporations fat while doing nothing for our health and certainly nothing for our bank accounts. Here’s the scoop. You really can prepare a home cooked meal every night of the week even quicker than you can get through that long line of cars at Mickey D’s, and you can eat better and save money all at the same time. How? The good folks at are happy to explain. It’s easier than you think!

Meal Planning Is the Foundation

The hardest part to learn is meal planning. You need to look at foods your family is likely to eat and then plan about three meals you can prepare on a Sunday afternoon. These will be things like casseroles, soups, stews, and even meatloaf and roasts. The trick is to make enough for double portions. Once they are prepped or cooked, divide them in half. Either freeze both portions or eat one-half for Sunday dinner and freeze the other portion. Do this three times and you’ve just made six meals. No, it isn’t redundant because your sides will be different.

Giving Recipes a New Appeal the Second Time Around

To avoid hearing “Aw Mom, we just had meatloaf the other night,” change up how you serve it and the veggies you use for sides. One of the neatest innovations are those steamable bags you can just pop into the microwave for a few minutes. Take meatloaf, for example. The first night you eat it as planned, perhaps with rice and peas.

The frozen half you will use a few nights later as open-faced meatloaf sandwiches smothered in gravy and served with mashed potatoes. You can also make large batches of rice and potatoes, which can easily be vacuum sealed and frozen for use throughout the week! This time, serve broccoli or corn with dinner and it has a whole new appeal. It’s easy if you know how to plan.

Additional Time (and Money) Saving Tips

If you want to save even more time and money, try buying in bulk. The more you buy, the lower the cost, and the less frequently you’ll need to shop. While you’ll still need to run out for fresh fruits, veggies, and bread occasionally, the bulk of your shopping for a month can be done in one fell swoop. Also, to avoid a huge mess and avoid cross-contamination, clean up prep in between. Never cut veggies right after chopping meat for stews without sanitizing your cutting board first.

Put what you can down the disposal and throw the rest in the garbage or compost pile. In other words, lay out all your veggies to be peeled and cut first. Place them in cold water until you need them. Meats you will need to sanitize between each cut, but that’s just a swish away in a sink filled with a 10/1 water/bleach mix.

Isn’t it better to spend a few hours on a weekend than many hours wasted going through slower than slow ‘fast food’ drive-thrus? You bet it is!