As a busy work at home mom, I’m always trying to simplify things in our home to make our schedules run more smoothly and less chaotic. I’ve found that for us, evening/supper/bedtimes are the most chaotic if I don’t have them planned out ahead of time.
To simplify this, I’m always trying to have our meals planned ahead. This way I’m not stressing about trying to figure out what we are going to scrounge up to make. I also try to meal prep as much as I can, and this includes freezer meals! I’ve learned from mostly trial and error, or trial and fail, if we are being honest. 😉
How to Simplify Meal Planning
Be Smart with Your Menus
When I get groceries, I plan my meals so that the food that will spoil the quickest, we eat the soonest. We usually have salads on the nights I get groceries, because otherwise sometimes the lettuce just sits in the fridge until it’s spoiled. That leaves wiggle room for you to use the other ingredients that don’t spoil as fast later, such as canned or frozen foods. I also love using Hiland Dairy because the products are sustainable and go into a lot of our favorite recipes.
I used to only plan our menu with our suppers, but now I do it with almost every single meal I eat. I write them in my daily planner, and I mostly do this for myself. If I don’t, I honestly sometimes forget to eat lunch or breakfast, so having it planned ahead and even prepared ahead makes it easier for me to eat healthier.
Also, when you are planning your menu, I keep our supper menu on the wall. This way our littles (or the hubs) don’t have to keep asking what we are having, and they can just look at the menu. When I plan this menu, I do it accordingly to the sales that are going on in our local grocery store that week, so I’m saving time AND money!
Buy in bulk.
If you have the space to store it all, I encourage you to buy your groceries in bulk. This will save you money, time in shopping, and it makes it so much easier to meal plan and make freezer meals. By having a large inventory of groceries and ingredients, you can knock out an entire month’s freezer meals in one sitting! I love the feeling of having a freezer stocked with meals, whether they are frozen casseroles or even crock pot meals.
One way I love to do this with non refrigerated items is by using Amazon Pantry! It’s so handy and if anything saves me a trip to the grocery store, I’m taking advantage of it! Plus- free shipping. 😉
Keep it simple!
When I first started with freezer meals, I hunted for hours on Pinterest and gathered up all of the yummiest looking recipes I could find. I spent hundreds on the groceries, and I spent hours assembling them all together. Don’t get me wrong, having the simplicity of being able to just grab a bag out of the freezer and throw it in the crock pot was so nice. But after going through all of that work, my family only enjoyed about half of the recipes I made. Figure out what your family’s favorite meals are, and find ways to make them ahead of time. A lot of recipes can freeze!
So when you make a meal, make it double, and throw one in the freezer for later. Don’t feel like you have to go to extravagant lengths to make fancy freezer meals. Just throw in some meat, sauce, and veggies, and you have yourself a crock pot meal!
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Our Favorite Lasagna Recipe
Speaking of meal planning, here is an example of one of our favorite recipes I like to meal plan with. Lasagna!
no boil lasagna noodles (we ended up using 12 noodles total)
1 pound hamburger, browned and drained
1 large jar of tomato sauce
1 large container Hiland Dairy cottage cheese
1 green pepper
1 small package mushrooms
1 large bag shredded mozzerella cheese or italian blend cheese
Parsley for garnish
- Brown hamburger, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, basil and oregano. Set aside.
- Saute vegetables in butter.
- Combine hamburger, vegetables, and cottage cheese in a large bowl.
- Layer the lasagna in the following steps: sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan, 4 noodles across, beef mixture, cheese.
- Repeat step 5 two more times, leaving enough of each ingredient for each layer evenly. Top with Parsley. Top with aluminum foil.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes covered. Take foil off, bake another 10 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for 5 minutes after!
Lasagna is one of our favorite recipes that the entire family can help make! The girls could literally make this themselves, besides browning the hamburger and cutting the vegetables. It’s super easy, and I love getting them involved with me in the kitchen.
I also love this recipe because it freezes so well! I usually make a double batch of this recipe, we eat one, and the other goes into the freezer for next time! This way I save time on meal prepping later, all I have to do is pull this out of the freezer and pop it in the oven.