Simple Meal Plan Rotation for the Busy Family

Finding a meal plan rotation that works for your family is the only way meal planning will ever work for you. It’s totally ok to get meal ideas from other families. However, if you’re using someone else’s favorites and they’re totally new to your family, you might end up with funky looks and little eating. Having worked so hard creating a plan, this can be super frustrating to run into. That is why I’m sharing this method I’ve discovered along the way of my own attempts at meal planning. This system can work for everyone. This system will end up totally custom to your family’s preferences and taste buds, which is why it works! Plus, saving money by not over-buying food is a definite win.

meal plan rotation binder

The Prep Work Required for Your Meal Plan Rotation

One day I had had enough. I never knew where to find a recipe I needed on any given night. Was it saved on Pinterest? Is it in one of my five cookbooks? Did I find it on Instagram? Did I already print it? Was it emailed to me? This was maddening when it was pushing five o’clock in the evening and I knew what I wanted to make but had to waste time searching for what I needed. Finally finding it, I realize I don’t have all of the ingredients I need to make the darn thing. I don’t know about you, but this does. not. work. for me as a busy mama with a busy family.

One day I said forget it, I’ll make my own binder. So I spent an entire day ignoring every other responsibility I had (you know, besides bare necessities like feeding my children). I committed to locating all of the recipes we used, and printing or copying them. From there, I put them in three ring binder inside clear sheets. Ah, now I can find what I need. This helped, but I hadn’t struck the gold in the process yet.

What I still needed at this point, was to pinpoint what meals my entire family enjoyed and simplify this now massive binder of recipes I had. So, ultimately I needed two binders.

Figuring Out Breakfast

What do you like to eat for breakfast? List them all out, as many as you can think of. Then, pick five things. Or, if you’re super easy and can eat the same things day after day, make it even simpler and pick one thing. Write down Monday through Friday on a notepad and pick one day for each thing you chose.

Breakfast Rotation Example:
Monday – oatmeal (overnight or hot)
Tuesday – waffles
Wednesday – eggs + toast or biscuits
Thursday – scones or muffins
Friday – greek yogurt parfait or cereal

Make Saturday a special morning for things like cinnamon rolls on birthday weeks, or pancakes and bacon. To make Sunday’s easy, double your Saturday morning breakfast for enough to eat on Sunday morning, too. Every single week repeat this, and breakfast becomes thoughtless. If you prep the night before with overnight oats, waffle batter, biscuit batter, cut sweet potatoes, etc. then you will also simplify even further.

Figuring Out Lunch

Once you have breakfast figured out, do the exact same thing for lunches. Remember, choose things you already make frequently that your family enjoys. Pick five more meals for lunch that you all love. Sneak greens in my choosing spinach tortillas for raw cheese quesadillas. Add some extra protein to mac n cheese by using bone broth instead of water in your recipe and add sliced grass-fed hotdogs. Consider a simple yeast sandwich loaf with ancient grains for your sandwiches. Planning ahead makes all of this possible.

LUNCH ROTATION EXAMPLE:
Monday – spinach tortilla quesadillas
Tuesday – hot dog mac n’cheese
Wednesday – pb+j sandwiches
Thursday – chicken nuggets + sweet potato fries
Friday – tuna (OR hard boiled eggs) + crackers + cheese

Next, I consider what we’re eating for breakfast while plugging in these lunch items each day. For example, I try to avoid having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch if breakfast was light on protein. Be sure to keep in mind how much protein, healhty fats, sugars, etc. are involved to have some balance.

Snacks for Your Meal Plan Rotation

“I’m hungry.” Every mother’s favorite words one hour after we’ve just eaten breakfast, am I right? Kids burn fuel like crazy, and truthfully so do adults when our metabolisms are working correctly. Ever get hangry (angry hungry) when you haven’t eaten in a while? So do little ones, they need to refuel frequently to keep up with how much energy they have! Set snack times with good options help fill in the gaps in between meals.

So, choose ten snack ideas that are easy or able to be prepared ahead of time that you know you’ll all enjoy. Remember you need to eat too, mama!SNACK IDEAS:

SNACK IDEAS:
– fresh fruit
– crackers + cottage cheese
– stovetop popcorn (helps you control what goes in it, all you
– nuts + dried fruit or trail mix
– smoothie
– olives
– sliced cheese
– applesauce
– apple + peanut butter
– leftover baked good

We eat breakfast between 7-8am everyday, lunch at 12-1pm, and dinner about 5-6pm. Then snacks are nestled in between those times at 10am (when we start school time together) and 3:30pm (when quiet time is over). Figure out how this makes sense for you, and post it somewhere in your kitchen. Most importantly, utilize it!

Make it Easy to Find Your Meals

Make yourself two binders. In the first one put recipes you use regularly. For me, this looks like: bone broths, granola, chai tea concentrate, mayonnaise. Followed by those recipes are breakfast recipes like waffles, sandwich bread, biscuits, scones, muffins, mac n’ cheese, and sweet potato fries. Following those are my dinner recipes that are in my four week rotation.

DINNER ROTATION WEEK 1 OF 4:
M – TOMATO SOUP
T – BEEF ROAST
W – WHITE CHICKEN CHILI
TH – TACO SALAD
F – SQUASH PASTA
S – FAMILY PICK OR EAT OUT
S – LEFTOVERS

DINNER ROTATION WEEK 2 OF 4:
M – CHICKEN SOUP
T – KOREAN GROUND BEEF BOWLS
W – KALUA PORK
TH – LETTUCE BURGERS
F – PIZZA
S – FAMILY PICK OR EAT OUT
S – LEFTOVERS

DINNER ROTATION WEEK 3 OF 4:
M – GREEN SOUP
T – SHEPHERD’S PIE
W – CHICKEN SALAD
TH – TACO BOWLS
F – CHILI
S – FAMILY PICK OR EAT OUT
S – LEFTOVERS

DINNER ROTATION WEEK 4 OF 4:
M – CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP
T – SPAGHETTI
W – BRAISIN’ GREENS PIE
TH – HOMEMADE HAMBURGER HELPER
F – CHICKEN POT TOT HOTDISH
S – FAMILY PICK OR EAT OUT
S – LEFTOVERS

meal plan rotation
Freckled Fragments Photography by Destiny Stansel

Meal Plan Rotation, Your Way

Remember, this meal plan rotation only works if you make it your way. If you simply plug in my recipes into your rotation, it might not go as well as you hope. So, talk to you family. Ask your husband to pick the top five dinners he loves you to make. Include your kiddos in the process. My seven and five year olds both helped me make this breakfast, lunch, and snack rotation for our family and it was genuinely a big help.

I plan to share many of these recipes as time goes on, so feel free to try them on Saturdays if you use this system! I have found it’s so much easier to implement new recipes on Saturdays when I can give my full attention to it with fewer interruptions of the craziness of the week.

Be sure to head over to From Faye to check out her Homeschool Dinner Matrix for som more great ideas to implement, too!

I hope this helps simplify meal planning for you and your family, please share with anyone else you think might benefit from this method, too!

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Published by Nicole B.

As full-time mama and wife, Nicole spends most of her time at home with her three boys and hubby. She's a home-body, home-maker, and home-educator with a love for sharing truth in love. She feels honored to share her heart with you!

3 thoughts on “Simple Meal Plan Rotation for the Busy Family

  1. Thank you for sharing my post Nicole! I was just thinking I wanted to share this post for my IG followers! So helpful and also fun to see how other mom’s do it.

    1. Totally!! Even if we don’t all do it exactly the same, all of the ideas combined can help someone else put their pieces together the way it makes sense too!

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