Meal Planning: Taking Some Shortcuts This Week

I was talking with someone last week and the question came up how many people I cooked for on a regular basis. When I said 9, the other said, “Wow. We had a company dinner last week and there were 10 of us total. That’s a full table!” To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it before. But, that’s a lot of people! No wonder it seems like I’m in the kitchen all. the. time.

I am in desperate need of some shortcuts. With four formal students in my homeschool, I am on my toes from 8 to 3 if I’m going to do it right. I really don’t have the time to cook full meals three times a day.

Here are some of my troubleshooting ideas:

1. Use paper plates at lunch time to reduce the amount of time I take away from school and recess in order to clean everything up.
2. Pack lunches the night before. I do this once in awhile, but I think I need to step it up and do it every evening.
3. Spend one afternoon a week baking snacks, slicing cheese, prepping veggies, and making dips, so that we have things to munch on without my taking time from school or other tasks in order to prep yet another meal.
4. Keep up with my salad bar. It’s been a great asset!
5. Meal plan more effectively, so that I can make double one night and serve the extra later in the week in another dish.
6. Do some freezer cooking after we move. I know this will take a load off.

That said, here are our dinner plans this week:

Hot Dogs and Brats with Grilled Veggies, Pasta Salad, Salad Bar
Shredded Beef Tacos, Beans and Rice
Hamburgers, Salad
Pasta with Sausage, Salad, Garlic Bread (cook 2x the pasta and use for pasta salad for lunch)
Pizza, Salad
Grilled Chicken, Rice, Salad

What are some shortcuts you take at your house?

For more meal planning inspiration, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. We like to cook once and eat twice or three times. The last time my husband grilled chicken, we ate 3 pieces and cut up and froze 5. We used the cut up pieces for salads a few times over the past couple of weeks. It's quick when the meat's already cooked!

  2. I don't really have a lot of shortcuts, so I'm going to enjoy hearing from your readers. The one shortcut I have is to cook a meat once, and use it twice. Grill extra chicken, use it atop big dinner salads the second day. Make a big roast beef, cube it and serve with gravy and egg noodles the second day. Leftover ham can get chopped up and put into garden omelets for a dinner-for-breakfast.

  3. Mama Llama says:

    Another shortcut is to use part of one night's dinner for the next night. Example: last night we had mashed potatos, and I made extra. Tonight I made shepherd's pie with the leftover mashed potatos. Sometimes just one less thing makes a big difference.

    Also, if you children like PB&J sandwiches, make the whole week's worth on Sunday night, wrap them up and freeze them. When you put them in lunches, they keep everything cool, and they are thawed out by lunch time.

  4. I've always made meal prep part of our school curriculum. Over the years I've logged the time under Household Management, Life Skills, or Home Economics. When little, the kids took turns reading out loud while the others worked in the kitchen and listened. Computation skills (+, -, *, /, fractions) have all been practiced while baking and cooking. Now that they are older (13 and 16), they're pretty much on their own for lunch and we all rotate responsibility for fixing dinner. But, we mostly like working together.

    Although we have always used purchased curriculum, we do not have set times for school (well, except for a core time of 9-12). They begin when they wake up and end when they go to bed…with many, many, many sidelines every day. This is our 11th year and has (so far!) worked well for us. Every family has to find what makes them happy.

    In summary, my shortcut has been to just incorporate meal prep into my school plans.

  5. Thanks for sharing your ideas! I'm printing them out to use in my planning.

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation about "a mom's life."

This is a place where moms can be themselves. Remember that each mother's path looks a little different. Please keep your comments respectful and kind. Reasonable minds will disagree in a nice way.

So let's talk about it, using "our big girl words."

Share Your Thoughts