17 In Life

Our Toddler Friendly Meal Planning Strategy {Successful Meal Planning For Working Parents}

As a working mom, I always enjoy seeing “how other moms do it” and seem to have it all together. Especially when it comes to having it all together in the kitchen. I rarely, if ever feel like I have anything together in the kitchen so now that we’re starting to get back on the meal planning train it feels like a huge win. Most nights are pretty chaotic around here, especially after a long day of school and work, we’re all pretty exhausted come 5 or 6 pm when we’re trying to figure out something for dinner. But, I made a splurge purchase at World Market last weekend and it might have been my best purchase for the kitchen yet! I think it’s going to help us regain control of our weekly eats, and help us reign in the budget a bit too. (And fast food cravings, let’s be real!)

So that magical purchase? A simple chalkboard easel for the counter! We’re going on week two of using it, and so far so good! We’ve also decided it’s much easier to stick to a “theme” for each day on the menu, then all go grocery shopping together as a family. The “themes” we’ve picked out are 1) Sarah/Adam pick, 2) Healthy, 3) Fast/Budget Friendly 4) Easy/Adeline, 5) Pizza night. When you section it out like that it makes it easy to come up with ideas and then actually stick to them.

easy meal planning for working parents

Here’s our thinking. Mondays are hard enough, so we decided we wanted Monday’s dinner to be something we could look forward to and really enjoy. It’s the night where one of us picks out a favorite meal. Tuesdays we’ve deemed as our healthy nights. Wednesdays are our fast/budget friendly nights, i.e. something super cheap. We have small group Wednesday nights so we like to eat something that will be fast and cheap. This often means leftovers. Thursdays are Adam’s long days, so I’m usually in charge of me and Adeline’s dinner which therefore means Thursdays are our easy/Adeline’s-favorite-meal nights. And Friday, of course, is pizza night/TBD because we’ll typically go out either Friday night or Saturday night. Saturday and Sundays we typically either eat leftovers, scrounge for whatever’s in the pantry, or eat out.

Our meal plan this week is:

  • Monday – One Dish Italian Chicken (Chicken, Green Beans, Red Potatoes, Italian Seasoning Packet)
  • Tuesday – Nachos (Not our healthiest, obvi! Need to switch Tues/Weds)
  • Wednesday -Salmon, Steamed Broccoli, Baked Potatoes
  • Thursday – Mini Bagel Pizzas, Niblet Corn (Adeline loves corn, it’s an easy side when you just need a veggie!)
  • Friday – Dinner Out (We have company coming so pizza night moved back to Thursday night)

And our meal plan last week was:

  • Monday – Turkey Meatballs w/ Salad
  • Tuesday – Pork Loin, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli
  • Wednesday – Meatball Sandwiches
  • Thursday – Kroger Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
  • Friday – Pizza Night

A possible meal plan for next week is:

  • Monday – Chicken Enchiladas w/ Rice and Beans
  • Tuesday – Bison Tacos w/ Fresh Guacamole
  • Wednesday – Leftover Enchiladas
  • Thursday – Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
  • Friday – Pizza Night

None of these meal plans are complicated, intimidating, or contain too many ingredients. But it’s a good variety, it’s easy, and it’s all things Adeline will eat too!

What’s your meal plan strategy? What’s one thing on your meal plan?



  • Reply
    September 18, 2017 at 7:16 am

    I really love your themes! They are so practical. I also plan about 4 meals per week since we always have leftovers. I’ve started meal planning monthly lately and have been loving it! It takes a while, but I only have to think about it once a month and I’ve actually been using my cookbooks, which has been fun. Love the chalk board!
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    • Reply
      mrs pitch
      September 18, 2017 at 7:29 am

      How do you plan for a month! I can’t wrap my head around that but that would be awesome to do one and done with planning!!!

      • Reply
        Sweet Miles
        September 19, 2017 at 10:35 am

        That would be SO awesome! My thoughts exactly!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      September 19, 2017 at 10:37 am

      You are AMAZING to plan out a month!!! Seriously impressive!

  • Reply
    mrs pitch
    September 18, 2017 at 7:27 am

    I agree and I feel you! Winging dinner doesn’t work very well beyond maybe 2 days around here. I’m more aware of getting vegetables on the table with a 19 month old and that takes planning. I take stock of what we have in the house and what we’ve had for a while that we need to use. Then I pick proteins for all week and then go back and fill in 2 veggies per meal. I mean, on any given day my toddler decides she’s not feeling a certain veggie. lol I’m loving your idea of using themes! Your posts have put the bug the in my ear to have my toddler help since she’s super interested in ‘mix’-ing everything these days. Definitely going to try themes!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      September 19, 2017 at 10:36 am

      I love that you pick out your proteins, that’s where I struggle with the most! I think because I just don’t enjoy COOKING meat so it’s hard for me to plan it, unless I know my husband can be home to cook it. You should try themes, it’s probably my smartest life decision yet 😉

      • Reply
        Mrs pitch
        September 19, 2017 at 2:49 pm

        Obviously you should make the hubby cook all the meat for the week on the weekend!!!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2017 at 7:49 am

    I meal plan by writing down the main portion of the meal in my agenda so that I know if we need any meat or big ingredients from the grocery store before I go shopping. I’m not a fan of winging dinner either so planning just a portion makes it much simpler! The chalkboard idea is adorable!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      September 19, 2017 at 10:34 am

      Great idea! I wish I could be loyal to my agenda like I once was, kudos to you!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Thank you for sharing your meal plan ideas! I think this is helpful for anyone – I dread grocery shopping and it always makes it so hard to motivate myself to go. Luckily, my sweet husband volunteered to go yesterday, but he WAY overbought and deviated from our list so bad! I think I’m going to suck it up and make the trip next time.
    I usually look at what we have on hand and make up meals based on that. And I stick to recipes that don’t have a long list of ingredients 🙂
    Have a great day!
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    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      September 19, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Haha! We used to order our groceries online but now that we’ve moved our Kroger doesn’t have online grocery pickup anymore!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    I love this – your meal planning is so creative and impressive 🙂

    I typically think about my meals on Sunday night and make a grocery list, but I don’t do much planning beyond that. I’d like to be more organized about it, though! I love your little chalk board.

    Hope you have a great Monday!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      September 19, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Haha I’m not sure about impressive, but thank you!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    I normally make a big batch of breakfast food and lunch food, then plan about 4 dinners. We eat lots of leftovers!
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    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      September 19, 2017 at 10:32 am

      That’s a great idea! We used to make breakfast burritos or a breakfast casserole but that’s the extent of our bulk prepping! 😉

  • Reply
    September 21, 2017 at 4:50 am

    We don’t have a plan and it’s killing us! Every time we try something comes up and them the whole week’s plan just collapses. We will have to come up with some other strategy it seems. How do you make it work? Besides making the plan itself, obviously 🙂

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      September 27, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      haha that’s how I feel when we forget to meal plan! DISASTER! How do I make it work? I guess it just kind of works itself, because once we know what we’re eating each night we know ahead of time that we have to actually make the effort to cook dinner!

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