Are you ready for an easy no plan meal planning guide?
Sounds funny, doesn’t it? But this is what I call a no plan meal plan.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just don’t have any time to sit down and do those freezer cooking marathons, family calendars, and all that other fun stuff.
If dinner gets on the table each night of the week, I’m calling that a win!
As a busy mom, your goal might just be to get everyone fed each night. This is okay!
If you’re like me, then you are probably looking for a way to make eating at home for less and saving your sanity a reality.
So what we really need is some easy meal planning ideas for families! And this is it!
While everyone may tell you to sit down and make a meal plan each week, the no plan meal planning method may be a better fit for you and your busy family!
Because sometimes getting time to actually sit down and think doesn’t happen every week! That’s why I needed a no plan meal plan.
Here is my no plan meal planning guide to get you started on your easy dinner meal planning for the week!
Do One Big Shopping Trip
My no plan meal planning guide starts with you giving once a month shopping a try, instead of shopping each week. If that task may seem daunting, maybe start your no plan meal plan with two weeks’ worth of shopping.
Shopping less makes you concentrate on the actual items you need for meals and not the “I wants” that happen to fall into your cart every week. Yup, it can even save you money!
This easy meal planning ideas for families helps your schedule too! To go shopping once in two weeks or even for a month sounds awesome!
Since you will need a lot of ingredients to put together meals, this can be a more efficient way to do your grocery shopping.
Take a look at the meal plan ideas from the past for your no plan meal plan, and your recipes that you make most frequently.
These will be your guidelines for what items you should pick up during this shopping trip.
Shop Ingredients Instead Of Meals
When it comes to following the no plan meal planning guide, you’ll want to focus on ingredients instead of meals.
You are looking for items that can easily be mixed and matched to create your meals for your easy dinner meal planning for the week.
For example, rather than plan for tacos, you’ll buy ground beef.
When it comes time to use it, you can make whatever you have ingredients for. This could mean hamburgers, tacos, or a casserole even.
You want to focus on ingredients that have a lot of versatility for your no plan meal plan.
So start your no plan meal planning guide with the proteins your family likes, ie. hamburger meat, ham steaks or diced ham, chicken thighs or breasts, beans, etc.
I start my easy meal planning dinner ideas with a protein, veggie, starch and a sauce. See how easy that makes your easy dinner meal planning for the week?
Keep Staples On Hand
If you are not already stockpiling you need to start!
The no plan meal planning guide works best when there are many items at your disposal to work with. Stock up easily with these tips!
Stocking up on spices, herbs, sauces, marinades, and other things to pair with your main ingredients will bring your no plan meal plan to life.
This is where the versatility comes into play. If you want to make tacos and hamburgers using your ground beef, how you cook the meat plays a significant role.
However, the difference is in the spices and sauces!
Keep staples like these on hand to give you the variety needed to stick to this no plan meal plan.
Frozen Veggies, Rice, Veggie Rice & Veggie Noodles
Canned Veggies, Beans
Pasta Sauce, other Sauces and Marinades
Need some more ideas? Download this pantry staple printable!
Then get your pantry organized. When it’s easier to find what you have, it’s easier to create and prepare meals.
Prep And Freeze As Much As Possible
Since you aren’t creating an actual meal plan each week, you will need to estimate how much food you’ll need each week or month with this no plan meal planning guide.
This can sometimes create extra food waste since there isn’t necessarily a plan for each of your ingredients.
To help stretch the shelf life of these ingredients, prep, and freeze as much as you can. This is what helps to make your easy dinner meal planning for the week fast and simple.
Brown your meats and throw them in the freezer, cut up all your vegetables, and have everything ready to go so you can quickly throw something together when it’s time to eat.
I try to keep a meat freezer list using this no plan meal plan. I write down what proteins I have left in the freezer and then cross them off the list when I’ve used them.
Here’s a guide on how to properly freeze veggies!
“Plan” The Night Before
The night before, decide what you want to make for dinner the following day. This is how the no plan meal planning guide works.
This is one reason why I love these easy meal planning ideas for families. Because I usually think of tomorrow’s dinner idea either when we are cooking that night’s dinner or when we are cleaning up. It helps to get everyone’s take on what sounds yummy to them.
This is important if you have ingredients that need to thaw.
If you’re doing a crockpot meal, you can take out some of the ingredients and set them next to the slow cooker.
I even throw a bunch of ingredients into a skillet for a no plan meal plan recipe. I throw a protein, veggie, and a starch like rice or potatoes and a sauce. It’s always so easy and so good!
If you have leftovers, it’s even easier! Leftovers mean I don’t have to plan anything for the next day so we can finish our leftovers.
Use Up Your Ingredients!
As I mentioned earlier, one of the downfalls of this no plan meal planning guide is the potential food waste.
To avoid wasting during your no plan meal plan weeks, you need to make sure you are using up as much as you can. It’s a great way to start easy meal planning dinner ideas for the next night.
Create a bin in your fridge and label it “Eat First” to make sure you never waste ingredients or potential leftovers.
Organize your pantry and freezer by what expires first and keep yourself from forgetting about food that’s about to expire.
I always try to put the new stuff in the back of the pantry that way I use up what is in front first.
Have frequent eat from your pantry challenges to make sure you are using up all of your ingredients, or this no plan meal planning guide may end up costing more money instead!
When you’re too busy to map out the perfect meals, the no plan meal planning guide can be an excellent alternative for you and your family.
It’s the easiest no plan meal plan I have used that works for our family.
And these easy meal planning dinner ideas are endless when you count the protein/veggie/starch/sauce combinations you can think of!
These steps will help you not only put together something delicious for dinner each night but cut down on some of the meal planning time too!