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How I Meal Plan as a Mom Who Hates Cooking

To meal plan as a mom who hates cooking… sounds exhausting. To say I *hate* cooking is perhaps a little… strong. I don’t hate it as much as I don’t really like spending so much time cooking everyday. It’s just not an enjoyable way for me to spend my evenings personally.

I don’t mind cooking every now and then, maybe 3-4 days a week. Even then, I need meals that are easy and straight forward. I’m not one to follow complicated recipes well. Extra steps just really aren’t for me.

So to keep us from ordering delivery every night, I have a loose meal plan that I follow to keep me on track. I also aim to keep us eating a good amount of vegetables (I usually have soup or salad for lunch and a smoothie every 1-3 days, lol). So here’s how I do it!

How I Meal Plan as a Mom Who Hates Cooking

My basic meal plan looks like this:

  • Friday: Every Plate
  • Saturday: Every Plate
  • Sunday: Every Plate
  • Monday: Pantry Meal
  • Tuesday: Take Out/Delivery
  • Wednesday: Pantry Meal
  • Thursday: Wild Card

Every Plate

My husband and I were getting HelloFresh boxes for a while but I started to get really bored of the recipes. Plus, it was pretty expensive (we were paying $50/week for our plan). And on top of regular groceries, our food expenses were just adding up.

We switched to Every Plate which is similar to HelloFresh but the main thing about it that saves SO much money is that all the ingredients for all of your meals come in a single box instead of separated out into individual bags.

I just separate the ingredients out myself when the box arrives. It seriously costs so much less than other meal delivery services. This is what we currently pay:

I feel that 3 meals for $40 isn’t bad – especially when I don’t have to go grocery shopping for individual ingredients, spend time picking a recipe, and making a list. Plus where I currently live, we spend more than that on two pizzas at our favorite pizza place.

Even 5 meals for 2 people isn’t a bad deal, in my opinion:

And the meals are pretty good! We share them with our toddler and we all leave the table happy. Here’s what we have in an upcoming box for reference:

I usually cook with less butter and oil that the recipes call for and sometimes steam other veggies we have on hand since we split 2 meals among 3 people in our house.

We’re saving $40/month over using Hello Fresh AND we’re getting and additional meal in each box – with Hello Fresh we were getting 2 meals a week for $50.

Use this link and get $20 towards your first Every Plate box!

Pantry Meal

This is as “meal planning” as I get. Pantry meals are essentially my name for eating from your pantry. I look in our pantry and see whatever is about to expire or if we have lots of pasta or rice and build a meal around that. It’s usually super simple: a grain, a protein with a sauce/seasoning, and vegetables. That’s it.

These meals are usually pretty basic and simple. Like pasta with red sauce and broccoli. A few weeks ago we had oven-baked chicken tenders, rosemary fries, and green beans and it somehow felt indulgent. Simple doesn’t have to be boring! But it also doesn’t have to take a ton of time in the kitchen or mean you’re spending the night washing dishes.

I like to break those days up with a take out/delivery night so we almost always order out in between pantry meals.

The Wild Card

This is the day we either eat leftovers, random things we have in the fridge, freezer or pantry or have something like breakfast for dinner. Somettimes when we order out, I order a little extra so we have enough to make another meal.

If we aren’t feeling it, we sometimes will order takeout or delivery a second time but that’s not super common. Verrrrrry occasionally, I will cook another recipe or meal we’re interested in. But that’s like, once every other month.

Even though my husband and I are both working from home right now, our schedules can sometimes get hectic so we try not to put too much pressure on ourselves and stress too much if we end up ordering out again. Life happens.

What I Feed My Toddler

My son is 20 months old as of writing this and for the most part, he just eats whatever we eat. The hardest thing, in my opinion, about feeding a toddler is that you literally never have any idea how much they are actually going to eat.

Sometimes he will eat all his food and be ready to take things off of my plate so we keep lots of fresh fruit (berries, bananas, avocados, grapes, oranges, etc) to help round out his meals when he asks for more since we don’t usually make large portions of anything.

I also get a box of Raised Real meals every 6-8 weeks or so to add extra veggies and flavors into his rotation. So sometimes he will get one of those as his “main” meal and we will also give him some of what we are having.

I’ve also done a post on a week full of toddler meal ideas! I shared everything he ate in a week.

And that’s it! That’s how I meal plan as a mom who hates cooking. Again, hate is a strong word, but there are just other things I’d rather be doing most days.

The only thing I’m strict about with the schedule is making the Every Plate meals Sunday – Monday. Otherwise we might switch around the other days to suit our needs best that week – and that’s okay!

Meal planning doesn’t have to be time intensive or stressful. An easy schedule makes for a happy family all around.

About the Author

Nicole Booz is the founder of GenTwenty and GenThirty. She is an entrepreneur, author of The Kidult Handbook, and most importantly, Mama to two beautiful little boys. She loves reading, organizing her home, and living a simple, less toxic lifestyle. You've seen her in The New York Times, TIME, Insider, Inside Edition, New York Post, NextAdvisor, Forbes, Yahoo, HuffPost, and U.S. News & World Report.


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[…] the first to admit I don’t love meal planning (or even cooking for that matter). But I have developed a system that has helped me to organize our meals for the week while reducing […]