Although as any parent can understand, it’s very hard to stick to meal plans, here is what a week of meals at our home looks like, on average.
What a week of meals looks like for our family
Each Friday, I make a meal plan for Saturday through the following Friday. With this meal plan, I plan out Luca’s meals: two snacks and three main meals. We try to stick to this, in an effort to minimize food waste, ensure a balanced offering of nutrition and food variety, and to keep some sanity!
When you don’t know what your next meal is and don’t have a plan, it can get overwhelming and you end up reaching for convenience foods over and over again and thus, not offering a lot of variety and ultimately spending more money.
Now, we don’t stick to this meal plan 100%. Sometimes, I don’t have time to cook something, so I’ll pull something out of my freezer and reheat it, OR we may go out for a meal that we didn’t intend on going out for and thus, have to switch things around.
Where I build my meal plans
I keep it simple. And since, like I said, I switch things up all the time, I love to have a virtual meal plan that I can swap around, copy and paste, etc. Thus, I use Evernote. I also use Evernote, because this is where my daily to-do list lives, so it’s all in the same place, so while I’m working off of my to-dos, I have our meal plan to reference easily.
Basically, each Friday, I build a new “Note” in my Daily To-Do “Notebook.” In this Note, there is an outline of the meal plan, which looks like this:
I build this for the week. Then, usually on Monday, I’ll drag the old meal plan Note into an archive of Meal Plans (so I can reference back if I’m ever stuck for ideas!) and just have our Monday through Friday to work off of. Then, again, on Friday, I build for the next Saturday through Friday.
A few things to keep in mind
While dinners are always enjoyed together (my husband is not home yet, but I always sit down and have a mini portion of our dinner with Luca), all of the rest of our meals are not the same. On the weekends, we all eat breakfast together, and about 50% of the time, during the week, Luca and I have lunch together.
Sometimes, we have the same lunch, but to be honest, my work days are unpredictable and I can’t always sit down with Luca and I’m often grabbing something outside of the house or defaulting to the same type of sandwich or meal, later on in the day (and Luca eats at 12:15pm everyday.) This is something I want to get better at – being present at his lunch times, so we can eat the same things, together. When we are able to be together, I make sure at least one of the things on his plate is the same as on mine. For example, if I know I’m eating something later, I’ll just have some steamed carrots, if that’s what’s also on his plate. I’ll basically have a snack.
As for breakfasts, since I work out in the mornings, I usually just have a PerfectBar or something snack-ish before my workout, and of course, Luca has his own breakfast. I usually sit with him (unless the morning is hectic) and sometimes I’ll take a bite off his plate or give him some of my bar, but breakfast is such a slam dunk meal for him (he eats SO much), that I don’t worry too much about us eating the same thing or me eating with him.
So to clarify: this meal plan is what Luca is offered each day, and we (Mom and Dad) also eat the same dinner as him. On the weekends, we eat more similarly, but on the weekdays, because of work, we eat separately from Luca for breakfast and lunch.
On the weekends, our schedules are a bit unpredictable, and I find us eating out a lot or using up what’s in the freezer (convenience foods like Spinach Littles and leftovers.) I tend to plan those days more loosely, because I’ve found that when I plan to cook and buy groceries accordingly, there’s a lot more waste.
Reoccuring dinners on my meal plan
There are a few dinners that I like to make each week for our family, because I know they’re hits with Luca and we love them. These include:
- Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pasta (recipe coming soon!)
- Turkey Bolognese with Zoodles (I also do this with spiralized sweet potatoes or broccoli and couscous to switch it up)
- Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pizza on Simple Mills crust (usually a Friday night tradition!)
- Cauliflower Curry (no butternut squash noodles)
- Roasted Salmon with Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes (Luca usually only eats the sweet potatoes, but it’s a meal we love and can eat together with him, because he’ll at least eat those.)
- Pressure Cooker Salsa Chicken
- Turkey meatballs in Rao’s Tomato Basil sauce with a veggie (broccoli, brussels sprouts, string beans, etc.)
- Burrito bowls (I’ll usually also make a family style serving of cheese quesadillas, because I know Luca loves them and it’s a fun treat for us, since we rarely eat quesadillas!)
- Veggie Raviolis with Rao’s Tomato Basil sauce and a veggie (broccoli, brussels sprouts, string beans, etc.)
- Margherita Broccoli Slabs with roasted potatoes and white beans
- Pork and Green Bean Stirfry with Sweet Potato Fried Rice (we switch up the protein – sometimes it’s chicken or shrimp, for example.)
- Lentil Meatloaf from Inspiralized & Beyond
Sample Weekly Meal Plan
Now, of course, Luca doesn’t eat all of this food at each meal time, but this is what’s offered. And we don’t stick to it 100%. Sometimes, for example, if I have a lot more blog leftovers, I’ll swap one of his lunches for that. Or, if I can’t get my stuff together for a dinner, I’ll pull together something easy from the fridge – or just some Mac and Cheese, with veggies stirred in.
But having this meal plan “set” for the week takes off a LOT of pressure and allows me to grocery shop quickly and not stress out about that aspect of our busy lives. Most importantly, it lets me look at the week ahead and make sure I’m offering him a balanced variety of fruits, veggies, proteins, whole grains, and dairy products. And we can plan leftovers better!
Luca doesn’t drink milk, so I try to squeeze in as much calcium and fat as I can, to make up for that lost opportunity. You’ll notice I offer him plenty of cheese and yogurt, for example. And as for dessert, if we have it while we’re out (like on the weekends when we’re out and about), we’ll definitely offer him some, but we never eat dessert at home, so we don’t offer it to him. I think that’ll change as he gets older, we want him to enjoy desserts!
I hope you found this helpful! Let me know!