The Best Meal Planning Tools (+ a free printable)
If you’re a busy mom like me, you may dread the words “meal planning.” It can seem overwhelming to even find the time to plan out meals in advance, let alone schedule in the time to cook them.
But, if you have little ones that are depending on you for nightly meals, and you want to keep your sanity intact as much as possible, meal planning is the way to go.
When it comes to meal planning, I’ve tried almost everything from planning for a month, 2 weeks at a time, weekly, and even the last-minute-nightly grocery store trip. And, while my sweet spot is somewhere in between 2-3 weeks at a time, I find that no matter what method or tool I use, consistency with flexibility is the driving force behind a successful plan.
In hopes of relieving some of your meal planning pressure, I’ve compiled a handful of my favorite meal planning tools to share with you. Check them out and let me know which one you plan to try.
This post contains affiliate links. As an affiliate and an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclaimer.
1. Real Plans
This was the first meal planning tool that I implemented and used consistently. My #1 reason for using Real Plans is because I have a daughter with A LOT of allergies. She’s allergic to everything from peanuts to coconut, wheat, soy, dairy and more. It becomes a challenge to plan meals that won’t send her to the ER while also appeasing the appetites of my other 3 kids at the same time. AND, I refuse to cook more than one meal.
Real Plans makes is so easy to enter in the ingredients I can’t use and populate dozens of delicious recipes that my entire family will love, while keeping my daughter safe.
If you don’t have allergies, but are following a specific diet for health reasons, Real Plans offers more than 9 different types of diets including Paleo, Autoimmune, GAPS, Keto, Vegetarian, and more. You can try their 14 day free trial by clicking HERE
2. Printables and Pinterest
If it’s not in your budget to invest in a meal planning tool, then you may want to try a basic tool like my free printables. You can print out this meal planning pack and fill in the sheets as you prepare your weekly meal plan. I love using this method when I’m short on money and patience.
I spend some time on Pinterest looking for recipes that fit my family, and then I bookmark the recipe in a folder on my browser labeled for the week or month that I’m planning for.
Once I have all the recipes saved, I go through them and add the ingredients to my shopping list inside the planner pack. The best part is that you can print out as many copies as you need. There’s also some space in one of the printables to set goals, write down a Bible verse you want to focus on, and list the current items in your pantry so you don’t buy more than what you need. Check them out by subscribing below.
I kept hearing about OAMM for a while and I couldn’t bring myself to try it, out of the fear of being overwhelmed with cooking for an entire month at a time. However, I was recently blessed with a gift of freezer meals from a friend, and I couldn’t believe how much easier it made our evenings. My kids got to pick which freezer meal they wanted, and I popped it in the crock pot or Instant Pot and wala; dinner was served.
This experience made me think again about giving Once a Month Meals a try. So, I signed up for an account.
I was immediately impressed with the extensive amount of recipes available and the detailed instructions that went along with each one. You can completely customize the types of recipes you want in your monthly plan, and even search by the appliance you want to cook with. OAMM has over a dozen different types of diets and even includes Weight Watchers. You can learn more about Once a Month Meals HERE.
I will have to give a disclaimer up front, that That Clean Life is on the pricier side at $60 per month. They used to have 2 different types of accounts, one for individuals and another one for businesses. They recently got rid of their individual option and truly cater their meal planning tool for health and wellness coaches. But, I couldn’t leave this tool out because I do love it so much.
That Clean Life gives you access to thousands of recipes that you can add into your own customized meal plan. You can plan meals down to the number of calories, carbs, or fat that you want to have in each meal or each day.
The program lets you see the percentage of macronutrients and also the number of macro and micronutrients you are getting in each day. This feature is great for someone who might be prepping for an athletic event or competition. However, I will have to say that this tool is probably more than what the average individual needs to just plan weekly meals for their family.
But, since I know I also have a lot of wellness pros that read my blog, I wanted to make sure you all know about this option. I use it to create recipe books, and eating plans for my clients for an added income stream in my business. You can check out That Clean Life HERE.
If you’re not ready to invest in a monthly meal planning subscription, my Healthy Meals, Happy Moms bundle may be the best option for you. Inside of the bundle you get 28 healthy meals you can make in under 30 minutes, you get kid friendly meals that you can make with your family, a kids’ snacks recipe book, a kids’ smoothie recipe book, and a dinnertime devotions guide to help you keep God’s Word at the center during mealtime. You get over 100 healthy, kid friendly recipes for just $15. For a limited time, you can use the code HAPPYMOMS at checkout to get the bundle for only $6. Learn more HERE.
Well sweet mama, I hope these gave you some simple and convenient options for planning out your family meal time. I get how stressful it can be to get dinner on the table with all the extra demands of life. Stay focused on the fact that you are doing an amazing job, and you probably won’t have a perfectly planned out meal every night of the week. Take a breath and find comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone. I’m here cheering you on!
In His Strength,
Kristen Ekiss is a Navy Veteran, speaker, coach, and adoptive mama of 4. She gracefully merges her Biblical counseling training and 15 years of health and fitness experience to teach women how to grow a stronger faith, raise a stronger family, and build a stronger body.