Menu Planning for the Busy Mom

By Jennifer Ascher of Organizing without Limits

When working with moms one of the biggest organizational challenges they have is the age old question. What’s for dinner? With crazy busy schedules, we all know there are days when you simply don’t have time to cook or the dinner hour snuck up upon you catching you unaware and you end up going through the drive – thru or order carry out. There is a simple solution for this called menu planning. Let’s first look at all the benefits of menu planning and then explore simple steps you can take to make it easier.

Benefits of Menu Planning:

  • Saves you time, energy and headaches
  • Having taken the time to plan you avoid going through the drive –thru
  • Your meals are healthier and more balanced.
  • You know what to take out the night before to defrost
  • You always have the ingredients on hand, avoiding trips to the grocery store in the middle of the week. Huge money saver there.
  • Your family knows what meals are coming up and will stop asking you what’s for dinner. Simple refer them to the posted menu on the fridge.
  • It will increase and improve your family time. When you plan ahead it is a lot easier to get the kids involved in helping you cook. Which in turn also teaches them valuable life skills?

Initially when you first begin you will need to do some prep work before you even get to the menu planning part. However after that is done and you have been menu planning for a while you will wonder how you ever survived with out it.

Here are some helpful tips and tricks:

  • Don’t overcomplicate the process. (Think simple meals)
  • Take inventory of what you already have in your freezer, pantry and fridge.

Make sure to throw out what is expired and organize the rest.

Start a list of staple items you may need to get next time you go grocery shopping.

  • Plan your meals according to your weekly schedule.

On days when you know you simple will not have time to cook because you

have a million things to do during the day and the kids have extra curricular

Activities after school those are the days where you plan to eat leftovers (a lot

healthier and cheaper than the drive-thru)

  • When you cook double and triple the recipe so you can freeze the extra. Another huge time save for those busy days.
  • When planning your meals don’t forget to plan for the lunches the kids take to school. No more last minute grocery trips the night before because you don’t have enough snacks, juice boxes etc.
  • Make sure to plan around the weekly sales ads and utilize coupons. Stock up on items you use often. Just make sure to rotate your freezer and pantry stock and add the items to your inventory sheet.
  • Start a folder or binder where you keep your menus from previous weeks. After a while you will have a good stock pile and all you need to do is rotate the various menus.

I hope some of these tips are helpful to get you started with menu planning. Next time we will explore the art of grocery shopping and ways to make it more efficient and less time consuming.

Jennifer Ascher(better known as an Organizing Geek) is a professional organizer and the owner of Organizing Without Limits in  Oakland County, MI. She began this business because of her  passion for organizing and helping others. Being a busy mom and business owner, Jennifer understands the importance of getting and staying organized.

She most enjoys showing other moms and dads how to set up and run an efficient household. Jennifer is currently the Oakland County Organizing Examiner as  well as a regular contributor on various other sites. . Her articles focus on organizing and local resources. It is her belief that organizing goes beyond pantries, closets or even time management. It’s about creating happier and healthier parents and families.

Organizing Without Limits helps organize every aspect of your life and offers both hands-on and virtual organizing services. Short term and long term help can be secured for an affordable rate.

You can reach Jennifer at or at http://organizingwithoutlimits.typepad.comFacebook You can also find her on twitter @Organizing_Geek or on