Let's Eat Together: [Meal Planning]

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I'm excited to be back today with more from Kassi of Let's Eat Together.


4:30 pm

The hour when worlds collide at our home. Baby’s witching hour. Time to start dinner. First grader is BOOOORRRREEED and needs my attention RIGHT NOW. And I have no plan for dinner.  After the blink of an eye, the clock reads 8:45pm and I feel like I’ve run a marathon.

Feel familiar to anyone out there?

The cycle would repeat nightly, followed by my “revelation” that I should try this tomorrow with the baby or line up this craft or browse Pinterest, because the answer is there, I’m sure of it.

What I really needed was a plan. A Meal Plan.
When it comes to cooking, my default is a loosey-goosey, recipe-based, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of approach influenced by what is in our house. We live 35 minutes from a grocery store, eliminating the option for a quick stop there, or fast food. And it never occurred to me this approach to dinnertime was a problem, until the baby was born. For my sanity alone, I had to start meal planning.

Sounds easy, yes? Not for me. It was hard for me to commit to a menu. What if our plans change and we eat out? What if the kids are sick? What if the Lockness Monster finally emerges from the pond behind our house, thus confirming my suspicions?

If you don’t currently meal plan, the key is starting small, focus on dinners for the upcoming week, Monday-Friday. Use the following weekend to review your success and plan for the upcoming week. Here are three steps in 30 minutes to make next week’s dinnertime less stressful.
Step #1 (5 Minutes)
List all the activities/engagements for the upcoming week, Monday thru Friday. Consult the significant other and kiddos, if needed, but make sure EVERYTHING is accounted for. Identify the two busiest days on the schedule. We’re going to make those two nights easy this week.

Step #2 (15 Minutes)
Find two crock-pot meals that your family would enjoy. Maybe you have some tried-and-true favorites. Maybe this is a good excuse to peruse Pinterest (in which case, you’ve invalidated my promise this process can be done under 30 minutes. Just sayin’). The key is to choose two, crock-pot recipes with minimal assembly into the crock pot and minimal assembly to the plate. I’d recommend choosing two recipes you’ve made before; making a new recipe always takes longer.

Step #3 (10 Minutes)
Write the entire list of ingredients for both recipes onto a sheet of paper, with quantities called for. Even down to the salt & pepper. Take it to the pantry and cross off  what you have on hand. (Actually do this, don’t just sit and think, oh, I have enough tomato paste, and really you have 10 cans of diced tomatoes and not a single one of tomato paste. This is meal planning tough love. I want you to succeed.) What you have left that isn’t crossed off, is your grocery list.

Do your grocery shopping before the week starts, at latest, at least a day before your first busy day. And do yourself a favor, don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach. Nothing good ever comes of that. Once home, wash the produce you’ll need for those two recipes before you store it.

See, I just saved you 5 minutes during crockpot assembly!

I’ve found it super convenient to keep my meal plan and grocery list right on the fridge using a clipboard and command hook. Just a glance at night will remind you to thaw meat or allow for a little extra time in the morning for crockpot assembly.

If you’re meal planning newbie, I hope this inspires you to start creating a meal planning system to make dinnertimes a breeze. Are you a meal planning whiz? Share your best tip below in the comment section!


Inspiring for sure. I'm constantly trying to make meal planning more of a habit, as it makes a WORLD of difference in our weeknights. These simple steps are so helpful in breaking it down and making it less overwhelming, thanks Kassi!! For me, getting it on paper and making lists is most helpful; when I'm feeling extra-on-top of things, actually putting dishes together in advance (so all I have to do is toss it in the oven when we get home) is so incredibly helpful.

Be sure to hop on Instagram and follow Kassi at Let's Eat Together for more inspiration, ideas, and tips.


  1. I meal plan too and find our meals are healthier and I'm so much less stressed if I have everything planned out beforehand. :)

  2. I use to turn my nose up at people who meal planned. When Ben came along, I was left eating my words. Meal planning and meal prepping are like little angels from Heaven. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I agree that meal planning makes a world of difference. Seriously if I don't or I don't shop on the weekend, our week goes downhill fast. It's a bit of a pain but it totally helps save the weeknight sanity!

  4. I honestly don't know how I survived before meal planning!

  5. I need to get back in the habit of putting my meal plan on the fridge. That makes a huge difference for me, so I know what to pull out from day to day!

  6. We're meal planners. Before having a child we could almost plan two full weeks out if we used frozen veggies and stuff the 2nd week. We're down to one week now, but we love it and would never go back. We find that we eat our SO much less since we started meal planning. On a side note though - we suck at the crock pot. I have 0 favorite crock pot recipes, unless you count an amazing spinach dip. Do you have any recommendations?