Growing your business takes time. That means you have to find time in your day to devote to writing. And marketing. And everything else.
One of the best ways I’ve found to free up time is through annual meal planning.
Before I switched to this method, I didn’t meal plan very consistently. The kids would always be asking what was for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner.
I had to stop and think. I even resorted to rummaging through cupboards.
It took a lot of brain power that should have been focused on something else.
Then I realized the power of meal planning. So I started.
Now, everyone knows what’s on the menu each day. There’s no more asking. No more fighting. And no more wasted time.
My meal planning takes a couple of hours. Once a year.
Each July (when we’re not homeschooling) I work with the kids to create a new annual plan. We find the recipes, build a master shopping list, and go all out.
When we’re done? Our meal planning is done for a whole year.
Talk about a time saver!
How to Make an Annual Meal Plan
Meal planning doesn’t have to be daunting. Or complicated.
If you’re a busy mom with young kids, you probably don’t have time to spend constantly trying new recipes, while you’re also growing a business.
There’s not enough time in the day for everything after all.
You already have some family favorites.
Those favorites? They’ll create the backbone of your meal plan.
Here’s how I create my annual meal plan.
First, I ask each of my kids to pick a breakfast. We eat the meal they pick each week on their day.
I repeat with lunch.
I get to help pick for my really littles–a perk of being mom!
Now, most of my meal planning is done. I know it’ll be kid-friendly, and usually simple. The kids know what they like, and it’s not complicated food.
The kids also each get to pick a snack for their day.
Every Monday, we eat the same breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack. Simple for me. Simple for the kids. No thinking required.
For dinner, we work together to brainstorm a list of themes. Here’s some we’ve used recently:
- Noodle night
- Taco Tuesday
- Crockpot Frenzy
Next, I let each child pick a theme for his or her day. We might have seafood on Monday nights, and sandwiches on Sunday.
Now that I have my basic plan in place, we work on selecting 4-5 options for each dinner theme. I try to make a mixture of simple and slightly less so meals. That way I have options depending on how much time I have.
Once we have all of our meals lined up, I make a master shopping list. We go through each meal and every recipe, and write down every ingredient that we need. Then, I decide how much of each item I’ll need for a month’s supply.
I get it all typed up into Excel, arrange it by store, and add my price-points.
After all my work is done, I’m able to get my monthly shopping trip prepped with very little effort. I go through my list, and update the quantity of each item. I know exactly how much we’ll use because I know what we’ll be eating.
It’s freed up so much time.
And I use that time to grow my business. To pitch. To write. To create a course.
Do you find meal planning helps you devote more time to freelancing?
What’s your favorite method of planning? I’d love to have you share your tips in the comments section.
PS: Do you need help meal planning? Check out the content upgrade available on this post. You’ll get a copy of my annual meal planner, and some ideas for simple recipes.