What to do if your Meal Plan Isn’t Working | How to Troubleshoot Your Menu Plan for Success

What to do if your Meal Plan Isn’t Working | How to Troubleshoot Your Menu Plan for Success

So about a month ago I published a video and post about the crazy way that I plan out my meals for the entire year in one evening.

(If you don’t believe me, you can watch me do it here! :))

A lot of people really liked the concept and decided to try it out… but as I was talking with one of my subscribers, she mentioned that it was not going quite as well as she had hoped.

I realized that there are a couple of additional tips that could help, not only her but other people who are trying to implement a meal plan into their life as well.

So in this post, I’m going to go over some ideas for how to make your meal plan easier and how you can make it work for your situation!

Now before we get too far into this post, if you haven’t seen The Crazy Way I Meal Plan and 50 Theme Night Ideas for your Meal Plan, you may want to check out those two posts first to get a little context.

But for everyone who is ready to get started troubleshooting their meal plan, let’s get to it!

If you prefer to watch the video, you can check it out here:

What To Do If Your Meal Plan Isn’t Working

1) Customize Your Theme Night

The first thing you want to do is make sure your theme nights are customized to your life.

It can be really easy to read a post by someone on the internet and just think, “well this is working for them, I’ll just do exactly what they are doing.”

But that doesn’t always work because my meal plan is customized for my life… and everyone else on the internet’s meal plan is customized for their life.

So you can take the overall principles that I am sharing, but you want to make sure that the theme nights you are using are working for your current schedule and for how busy you are.

If for example, you had used the exact same theme nights that I did in my meal plan, you would realize that Tuesday and Thursday nights for us are easy nights. And that is because, Pre-Covid, those were our busiest nights of the week.

But your family may be busy on Monday and Wednesday so having easier meals on those nights would make more sense for you.

So if something like this is your problem, all you need to do is rearrange around your theme nights!

2) Simplify Your Theme Nights

Now, if you’ve tried moving around your theme nights and your meal plan still isn’t working for you, it’s also possible that you have too many difficult theme nights.

As I talk about in this video and this post, there is a *wide range* of theme nights for you to choose from.

There is everything from eating the same exact same dish every Tuesday night (one of our theme nights), to eating a brand new meal every Wednesday (another one of our theme nights).

And there are a *whole bunch* of theme nights in between those two!!

When I was first creating my meal plan, I was really excited to try 6 different complex theme nights (because of course we still had our leftover day :)!

But then I realized that it just didn’t work well for my life. I also realized that I didn’t enjoy cooking that much, and I didn’t want to be cooking time-intensive meals every night of the week.

So if this sounds like where you may have gone wrong in your meal plan, go back to the theme night ideas post and choose some easier theme nights for your family.

PRO TIP: When you are starting out with meal planning and learning how to stick with it, it is better to go too easy with your theme nights than to have them be too complicated.

When you go easy you can always make it more complicated later if you are enjoying it and want to cook more…

But if you start out with things too complicated, you can easily get discouraged and give up on the meal plan.

So make sure that your theme nights fit your schedule, your life, your busyness, and even how much you like to cook.

If you don’t like to cook, there is no reason to spend a lot of time cooking every single night!

What to do When your Meal Plan Isn't Working... and How to Fix It!

3) Create a Rotation

Another thing you can do is create a meal plan rotation.

I talk more about creating a rotation in the post, How to Create a Meal Plan, and the video, A Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning.

But basically, you create a set of meals and rotate them at a regular interval.

So the easiest way to do this is to create a one-week rotation.

For a one-week rotation, you choose 6 meals (plus one leftover day) and you will repeat the same meals in the same order every single week.

A lot of minimalists out there suggest creating a very simple rotation because the truth is… this is the simplest way to plan your meals.

It takes very little time to plan, it takes very little time to implement, and it takes very little time to cook when you are planning your meals this way.

The reason that I don’t meal plan this way is because we all enjoy a wide variety of food and we wouldn’t like to eat the same meals over and over again.

If you would like to simplify your meal plan but think you might get bored eating the same thing every single week, you could also create a two-week rotation.

In that case, you would decide on 12 meals (plus one leftover day each week). Then you would go through the rotation twice a month.

You could also create a four-week rotation and repeat the meals once a month, every month of the year.

4) Have a Meal Prep Day

Now, if you would like to make your meal plan easier, but eating the same meal every week doesn’t sound fun, you can have a Meal Prep Day once a week.

Now I personally don’t do this because our weekends are busy. But if you have mellow weekends, this could be the solution to all of your meal planning problems!

When you have a prep day, you simply do all of your chopping ahead of time.

Then, each night of the week, all you have to do is the actual cooking of each meal.

This could work well for you if you are anything like me, and chopping takes you forever.

The bulk of my cooking time is spent chopping the vegetables for my meals. *Especially* if I am cooking something with onions in it… which is everything.

Onions make me cry, which means I can’t see what I am chopping, which means I have to stop chopping so that I can stop crying, then I have to start chopping again, which means I start crying again… it’s a whole thing.

But the point it, if you can do all of your chopping work ahead of time, it will save you a lot of time each week in the kitchen.

*PRO TIP* If you are chopping onions ahead of time, make sure you aren’t just putting them in a plastic bag. Your entire refrigerator will smell like onions. Don’t ask me how I know. Instead, put any prepped onions into a sealed glass container. You’re welcome. 😉

5) Create a Double Meals Rotation

The last trick that you can try if your meal plan isn’t working for you, is you can double your meals and use them in the future.

Now I know this doesn’t sound like we are making life easier… but stick with me, I’ve got a plan!

The first week that you do this, you are going to choose 4 meals that store well or freeze well, and you are going to double them.

Then the next week, you are going to eat those 4 meals.

On the other three nights, you are going to cook 3 meals and double them. And the following week you will eat the doubles, while only having to cook 4 meals… and so on.

So each week, you will be eating your doubles from the previous week, and only needing to cook on half of the nights.

Even though it is a little bit more work to do this the first week, it gets significantly easier as you go.

Again, this isn’t what we do at our house because I already double everything and we eat leftovers for lunches every day. But if your family prefers to eat sandwiches, or soups, or anything that you need to cook for lunch, this is a great option that will save you a lot of time in the dinner prep department.

So what do you think? Will any of these ideas work well for your family? Which ones do you want to try?

Ready to Stop Feeling Stressed About Meal Planning?

Then check out Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning!

In Set-it-and-Forget-it Meal Planning, you will learn how to 

  • Create a Breakfast Rotation
  • Create a Lunch Rotation
  • Create a Snack Rotation
  • Choose Theme Nights
  • Create Rotations for Each Theme Night
  • Fill in Your Meal Planning Calendar

Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning walks you through my unique method for setting up your meal plan so you will never have to start from square one again!

Plus you will receive the Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning Workbook and Spreadsheet and email support from me anytime you have questions.

I hope to see you inside the course!

(Or if you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of gal, you can check out my DIY Meal Planning Resources!)

Want 7 Extra Hours Every Week? Grab the Streamline Your Home Quick-Start Guide!

You Might Also Enjoy…

The CRAZY way that I Meal Plan or you can watch the video of How I MEAL PLAN my WHOLE YEAR.

How to Use Theme Nights in Your Meal Plan… Plus 50 Theme Night Ideas and you can watch the video here.

See you on the next one! Kassy
The Crazy Way I Meal Plan | How I Meal Plan for the Whole Year in Less than 3 Hours

The Crazy Way I Meal Plan | How I Meal Plan for the Whole Year in Less than 3 Hours

I’m super excited about this post because I am *finally* going to show you the crazy way that I meal plan my entire year out in less than 3 hours.

Really.

Now when most people find out that I plan out my whole year of meals in advance… they have a lot of questions.

  • The first thing that I’m going to do is answer some of the questions that I commonly get. And I’ll let you be the judge of if I should see someone for my insanity or not. 😉
  • Then, I will walk you through the supplies that you will need if you want to try this out.
  • And lastly, I’m going to show you the step-by-step process for how it’s done.

Plus as an added bonus, I’m going to time myself this year so that you an see how long it takes!

Feel free to skip down to the meat of the post if you don’t care about why I put the time into this project.

And If you are more of a watcher than a reader, check out this video where I show you the entire process from start to finish:

Why I Only Meal Plan Once a year

Alright let’s dig into the reasons that I put myself through this.

The first question that people usually have when they find out that I only meal plan once a year is…

You Meal Plan for the Whole Year, Really?

And the answer is: yes!

If you don’t believe me, watch the video above! At the end of the video you will see that every dinner menu spot is filled in on the calendar for the entire year.

It’s been about 4 years now that I have planned out my meals in advance, and I will never go back to doing it any other way.

The second question that I get a lot is…

Why Would You Do This?

I have a couple of answers for this one:

The first is, I don’t really like meal planning.

So if I can batch this chore and do it once a year, I am a happy mom.

The second reason is that I find it to be much more efficient.

If I can sit down and get it done once instead of coming back to it every single week, or every single month, it takes much less time.

I have tried meal planning just about every other way, and this is the only way that I have been able to stick with my meal plan for the entire year.

Another question I get a lot is…

Meal Planning My Whole Year in Advance. Yearly Meal Planning changed my life. Let me show you how it's done! Plus a Free Meal Planning Checklist

Why Is This Any Better Than Planning a Week or a Month At a Time.

Like I said in the last answer, I think that it is much faster to do it all at once.

I’ll let you know at the end of the post how long it takes me to do the entire process, but if you think about it, it just makes sense that it would take less time.

If you sit down to meal plan every single week, you are starting over every time you meal plan.

You have to get out all of your cookbooks, your calendar, and you have to make decisions. And at minimum, this will take you between 15 and 30 minutes… every. single. time.

When you do it all at once, you can cut your time down considerably.

(Watch the video or read to the bottom of the post if you want to find out exactly how long it takes me!)

Deciding what to eat is the hardest part of meal planning because we moms have so many decisions to make every single day.

And if you meal plan weekly, that is 7 more decisions that you have to make each week.

Getting those decisions out of the way will save you time, energy and stress.

Next question!

What If I Want Something Different Than What is on the Menu?

So… I don’t really know how to break this to you…

But writing something down with a pen and paper doesn’t mean that you have to do it.

All you do if you get to a certain week and you want to eat something different, is cross it off and write something else down.

No harm, no foul.

It’s easy, trust me!

But even if you have to make a little change here and there, you are still saving yourself tons of time throughout the year.

And the last question I get all the time is…

What happens when you have company?

And depending on the situation and who the company is, I may do several different things:

  1. I might just stick with my meal plan. I have a whole post and video showing you how to meal plan for the holidays while using the theme nights that you already have.
  2. I might just skip a meal. If I know someone is coming and a meal on my plan isn’t their favorite, I will just cross it out and put something completely different on there. (See the last question 🙂
  3. I might bump a meal into the following week. If I was really looking forward to making something and I find out that my company isn’t a fan of it, I’ll just bump that meal into the following week and move the following week’s meal into this week.
  4. Or I might even make a crazy meal planning Tetris game and move things all over the place with really cool arrows. (Pens are great for this!)

Since it usually takes me less than 5 minutes to figure out how to adjust my meals if company is coming, it is still way less time-consuming to plan things out ahead of time than it is to wait and do it one week at a time.

My Meal Planning Tools

Alright, now I’m going to show you exactly what I use to plan my meals for the year:

1) My Meal Planning Calendar

  • Breakfast Routine Worksheet
  • Lunch Routine Worksheet
  • Snack Routine Worksheet
  • Types of Theme Nights 
  • Theme Nights Ideas 
  • Choosing Your Theme Nights Worksheet
  • 12-Month Meal Planning Calendar
  • This Week’s Menu Template

You can get the Set-It-and-Forget-It Meal Planning Workbook here!

But if you prefer something different I recommend the Big Grid Family Organizer. I used it for about 3 years before I created my own calendar.

I’ve also used the smaller Amy Knapp Planner for meal planning and I like it as well, but the Big Grid worked a little better for me.

I would suggest using the small planner if you want to be very detailed in your meal plan and you have a lot of things going on each day. I would use the Big Grid Organizer or the Set-It-and-Forget-It Meal Planning Workbook if you don’t have as many things that you need to write down each day and you want something to hang on your wall.

2) Fun Pens

The next thing that I always have is a pen that writes well in a color that I like (for me, the purpler, the better!)

It’s just a little more fun to write a whole bunch of things down when you are using a pen that you like and that you enjoy seeing over and over and over again.

Create an Easy Meal Plan for the Whole Year and Save Money!

3) Cookbooks

I always have my cookbooks out and handy when I am meal planning.

My favorites are

I’m slightly obsessed with the Revive Café Cookbooks because they have a picture for each recipe, the recipes are simple to replicate, and they use ingredients that most normal people would know what they are and know where to find them (which is surprisingly not true of a lot of plant-based cookbooks).

The only drawback to the Revive cookbooks is that he doesn’t quite season his recipes as much as I would like… so I just start off by doubling the spices that he suggests and ramping it up from there (I like me some flavorful food!).

Vegan Yum, Yum also has delicious recipes, but the recipes are a bit more complex and can require more unique ingredients.

4) Spreadsheet

Ya, I know, I’m a little strange… but having a spreadsheet for meal planning makes my life easier each time I map out my year.

I created the Set-It-and-Forget-It Google Worksheet with everything that you need to organize your meal plan!

  • Breakfast Routine Worksheet
  • Lunch Routine Worksheet
  • Snack Routine Worksheet
  • Types of Theme Nights 
  • Theme Nights Ideas 
  • Choosing Your Theme Nights Worksheet
  • 12-Month Meal Planning Calendar
  • Camping Meal Plan 

I also use my spreadsheet to keep track of which meals we like, which ones we have tried but didn’t like, and how easy/difficult the recipes are. I also track which season we want to eat each meal in and how expensive they are to make… I get geeked out about organization :D.

How to Meal Plan Your Entire Year

Now that we have everything we need, let’s get started!

1) Assign Theme Nights

The first thing that you want to do if you are meal planning for your whole year is to assign a theme to each night of the week.

Head over to this video or this post for all the deets on how to do this plus over 50 theme night ideas.

But Basically, you just assign some sort of theme to every day of the week…

So Sunday will have a theme, Monday will have a theme, Tuesday will have a theme… and so on.

I like to use a combination of simple and complex theme nights, that way we don’t get bored with eating the same things all the time, but the meal plan also doesn’t become so complicated that we give up on the plan.

Once your theme nights are done, your meal planning will become infinitely easier whether you are planning for a day, a week, a month, a season, a year, or even just a camping weekend or a road trip.

2) Thursday Night

Now that you have your theme nights set you, you can start putting things on your calendar.

I always start by writing in my Thursday nights because Thursday at our house is Leftover night!

So at this point, I go through my calendar write down “leftovers” on every single Thursday.

And yes, I technically wouldn’t have to write it in since it it’s the same every week, BUT I like everything filled in on my calendar. It makes me happy. So I write in the leftovers. 🙂

3) Tuesday Night

The next day that I typically fill in is Tuesday night, which is Vegan Macaroni and Cheese night for us.

Tuesday is another easy night for us because pre-covid we had swimming lessons on Tuesday and Thursday nights and I wanted to make dinner as easy as possible on those evenings.

So… I think I’m going to stick with the same theme nights this year, and hopefully, we will be back to swimming lessons before too long!

If for some reason we are still without swimming lessons at the end of 2021, I might adjust my theme nights.

The Only Way to Meal Plan for Busy Moms: How I Plan My Whole Year in Advance

4) Friday Nights

Now Friday is a different type of theme night than Tuesday and Thursday.

Tuesday and Thursday are what I call Specific Meal Theme Nights because I use the same meal each week.

But on Friday, I use a category theme night (which I talk about in this post and this video).

Our theme for Friday is Build-It Meals, which is any meal where each person puts together their own plate of food.

And instead of thinking up new Build-It Meals every year, I keep a list in my meal planning spreadsheet. Our build it meals include:

  • Falafels
  • Tacos
  • Gado Gado
  • Burgers
  • Portobello Fajitas
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Don Buri
  • Burritos
  • Patatas Bravas
  • Malaysian Laksa
  • Yum Bowls
  • Hot Dogs

And I will just start on the first Friday with Falafels and rotate through the list until the end of the year!

5) Saturday

Next, I will fill in my Saturdays.

Now, Saturday is a very different day for us because… again, pre-covid… we used to go to church on Saturday.

And because of this, we would usually eat a late lunch and just have a light supper.

So all of our lunch/dinners on Saturdays will be haystacks (which is like a taco salad).

And I will also put into the calendar my rotation of light suppers, just like I did for the Build-It Meals in the last step. (See how having a spreadsheet with your rotations can be handy?!)

6) Sunday

My Theme for my Sunday is Time-Consuming Family Favorites.

Since Sunday is a slower day at our house and Ross is not working, this is where we break out all of those meals that are delicious to eat, and difficult to make (I’m looking at you hand-made pasta.)

And of course, I keep a page in my spreadsheet with a list of all of our favorites. I categorize the list so that I can easily see which favorites take more time to make, which ones are best in each season, and how often we want to eat each favorite. (Hi, I’m Kassy, and I’m addicted to spreadsheets.)

So for example, one of our time-consuming family favorites is Pot Pie.

It take a lot of time to make, everyone would like to eat it every other month (actually, they would all love to eat it every week… but it takes a LONG time to make). BUT it is a very hot meal to cook and to eat.

So when I am going through my calendar, I will only put it down on every other month in the fall, winter, and spring.

7) Monday

Monday this year is going to be Simple Family Favorites.

So I will look back at my spreadsheet and put in all of those family favorites that are nice and easy and work well for a weekday.

8) Wednesday

Now if you have been keeping track, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve moved from writing in my easiest theme nights to writing in my most time-consuming ones.

Why is Wednesday time-Consuming? Because Wednesday night at our house is New Meal Night.

That means that I have to find 52 new meals… every year!

So yes, it takes me a little bit more time to write in my Wednesday night… and I put it off until last!

To help me find the recipes faster, I keep a Pinterest board with recipes that I want to try in the coming year, and I go through my cookbooks to see if I want to make anything new out of them!

So How Long Did it Take???

This year, creating my meal plan for the entire year took me…

drumroll, please…

The Easier Way to Meal Plan: How to Meal Plan for the Whole Year in Less than 3 Hours!

2 hours, 45 minutes, and 45 seconds.

Now, keep in mind that I’ve been doing this for several years now and it took me a bit longer the first time around. So keep at it and I promise that this will make your life easier!

Ready to Stop Feeling Stressed About Meal Planning?

Then check out Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning!

In Set-it-and-Forget-it Meal Planning, you will learn how to 

  • Create a Breakfast Rotation
  • Create a Lunch Rotation
  • Create a Snack Rotation
  • Choose Theme Nights
  • Create Rotations for Each Theme Night
  • Fill in Your Meal Planning Calendar

Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning walks you through my unique method for setting up your meal plan so you will never have to start from square one again!

Plus you will receive the Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning Workbook and Spreadsheet and email support from me anytime you have questions.

I hope to see you inside the course!

(Or if you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of gal, you can check out my DIY Meal Planning Resources!)

If you want more Yearly Meal Planning Fun…

Check out my 2022 Yearly Meal Planning Video!

Want 7 Extra Hours Every Week? Grab the Streamline Your Home Quick-Start Guide!

You May Also Enjoy

How to Create Your Own Theme Nights

If you want a step-by-step guide for setting up your meal plan, check out How to Begin Meal Planning When You Don’t Know Where to Start

For ideas about how to eat everything you buy, read How to Work Leftovers into Your Meal Plan

If you want to learn more about Decision Fatigue, check out Why Is Meal Planning so Difficult

For Quick, Healthy Breakfast Ideas, read How to Get Started Planning Quick Healthy Breakfasts

See you on the next one! Kassy
An Easier Way to Meal Plan: How to Meal Plan for the Whole Year in Less than 3 Hours!
Weekly Meal Planning for Beginners: How to Get Started Planning Quick, Healthy Breakfasts

Weekly Meal Planning for Beginners: How to Get Started Planning Quick, Healthy Breakfasts

Minimalist Meal Planning for Breakfast: How an Easy Breakfast Routine Will Make Your Mornings Simple

When I first sat down with my calendar to begin meal planning, I had high aspirations. I planned unique breakfasts, lunches, and dinners six days a week with one day for leftovers.

Then I watched my motivation crumble over the next few weeks trying to do so much cooking with a baby in the house.

I soon realized that being in the kitchen for three or more hours a day wasn’t making my life easier.

I mean, I enjoy cooking, but not quite that much.

It was obvious that I needed to switch gears.  I love having variety in our evening meals, but the time involved in cooking elaborate breakfasts, lunches, and dinners was stressing me out and wearing me down.

I started thinking about how I liked having minimalism in the rest of my life, why not in my meal planning too?

I decided to scrap my new breakfast meal plan that I had worked so hard on and try a more minimalist approach to my breakfast routine.

After shifting my expectations, changing my plans, and simplifying my approach to our weekday breakfasts and lunches, my stress level decreased and I began looking forward to mealtimes again.

In this post, I’m going to go over What Weekday Breakfasts Should Be Like, Why You Should Have a Plan for Breakfasts, 6 Tips for Making Weekday Breakfasts Easier, and 20 Quick, Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Busy Mornings!

And If you prefer to watch instead of read, here is the video that goes with this post:

What Should Weekday Breakfasts Be Like?

When I decided to revamp my breakfast plan, I began by thinking about what I wanted my weekday breakfasts to look and feel like.

I suggest taking a few minutes before you begin to think about what your mornings are typically like.

Are you in a rush, or do you have all the time in the world? Are your kids old enough to cook for themselves, or are you cooking for everyone? Do you have picky eaters, or are your kids easy to please?

(If you have picky eaters, be sure to check out this video!)

And of course, think about what kind of breakfast would make your life easier in the mornings.

Here is my list of what I am looking for:

1) Easy

Like I mentioned in my How to Create a Morning Routine post, I’m not naturally a morning person, so doing a lot of thinking in the morning doesn’t work well for me.

And making new recipes takes a while when you are a little groggy.

2) Quick

Not that I am trying to rush through my mornings (although I do have to remind myself to slow down at times), but I want to be able to get to the fun things that we have planned for that day. 

Instead of spending the whole morning cooking, eating, and cleaning up after ourselves, we like to get to the park or go on a hike.

3) Simple

While I want my girls to appreciate all kinds of food and have varied pallets, I also want them to be able to appreciate simple things.  Breakfast is a great time in our day to have some simple predictability.

I prefer to do more complicated and unique dinners when Ross is home to enjoy them as well.

4) Inexpensive

When I was first trying to get my meal planning groove on, I found that my grocery budget skyrocketed!  When I started cooking simple breakfasts, my grocery cost went back to normal.

Back to School Breakfast Ideas: 20 Quick, Healthy Ideas for Busy School Mornings

Do I Need a Meal Plan for Breakfast?

Now that I knew how I wanted my morning to look, I could create my plan for breakfast. 

It can be tempting to think that you don’t need to worry about planning out your breakfasts beforehand. But even if you want your breakfasts to be easy, quick, simple, and inexpensive like I did, don’t just wing it! Here are a few reasons that you should plan out your meals even if they are going to be simple:

1) Breakfast Will Be Healthier

It can be easy to overlook making breakfast healthy as we are trying to grab something quick before rushing out the door in the morning.  But a little planning will make us much more inclined to eat a healthy breakfast instead of grabbing something processed.

2) Planning Will Save You Money

If you go to the store with a plan and a list, you will be less likely to buy a lot of food that sounds good “just in case” you decide to make it that week.

It is easy to waste money on food that sounds good at the store, but we will never actually make. A plan will keep you on track for only buying what you need and will use.

3) Preparation Will Be Quicker

Doing a little planning ahead of time will keep you from staring into your fridge wondering what you should make everyone for breakfast. If you are a little slow in the morning like I am, having one less decision to make is always a good thing!

4) Cooking Will Be More Enjoyable

For me, cooking is less stressful and more fun when I have a plan heading into the kitchen instead of making it up as I go along.

Alright, let’s get to work planning your breakfasts!

6 Tricks for Meal Planning Breakfast

1) Be Predictable

Nine out of ten weekdays, the girls and I eat oatmeal in the morning. Eating the same thing almost every day makes the morning flow naturally and keeps me from having to do too much thinking early in the morning. Plus it’s great for teaching kids how to cook.

Since we make oatmeal every day, my oldest daughter (she’s four years old as I am writing this post) can make it all by herself.   This is very helpful when we need to get to an appointment and I need to get myself and my younger daughter ready to go.

2) Think Simple

If your breakfast is simple to put together, you are much more likely to stick to making a healthy breakfast.  Hot cereal is an obvious choice, but if you think outside the box, there are dozens of simple healthy options! (Be sure to check out the 20 Easy, Healthy Breakfast Ideas below!)

3) Make it Delicious

Just because you’re going for easy, doesn’t mean you should skimp on flavor! Kids and adults alike are more likely to eat a big, healthy breakfast if it tastes really good. Add a pop of flavor to almost any breakfast by adding fresh or frozen fruit, nuts and seeds, and coconut or almond milk.

4) Have Fun

Healthy Breakfast Meal Planning Ideas: Tips and Tricks for Planning Quick, Healthy Breakfasts

Although we eat oatmeal for our breakfast almost every morning, we make it interesting by adding seasonal fruit, seeds, nut butter, almond milk, and sometimes honey to the bowl.

Depending on the season we might add fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, apples and cinnamon, bananas, cherries, peaches, plums, or any other fruit that we picked up at a local farm to make things interesting. 

5) Prep Ahead

If you want to make something that takes a little longer, do some prep work on Sunday for the week ahead. 

For example: potatoes take longer to cook, but you can peel and chop your potatoes ahead of time and put them in a sealed container with water covering them. Then in the morning, just rinse and fry them up!

6) Mix It Up

We like to make a more elaborate brunch together on Sunday mornings. This is where we do all those breakfast favorites that everyone loves, but take too long to make during the week. 

Our Sunday breakfast is rarely the same from week to week, which gives variety to what could otherwise be a mundane breakfast lineup.

If you are choosing to stick with simple foods during the week, pick a day on the weekend when you can have fun making other recipes together.

You may already have an idea of what your weekday breakfast will be, but if not, here are 20 Simple, Healthy Breakfast Ideas to get you started.

20 Easy, Healthy Breakfasts

The Busy Mom's Guide to Planning Easy, Healthy Breakfasts
  1. Oatmeal with Fruit and Nut Butter. This is the staple in our home. The girls and I eat it five days a week for most weeks! Sometimes we add eggs or toast, but the oatmeal (or other hot cereal) is a constant.
  2. Eggs and Toast. This is a great choice if you like a little variety in your life, while still being predictable and easy. Try making the eggs a different way each day of the week!
  3. Zucchini Muffins and Fruit. I love this recipe from Cookie and Kate. (These are also great for Road Trip Breakfasts when you want to feed the kids in the car!)
  4. Scrambled Eggs and Hot Cereal. Add some extra protein to your oatmeal breakfast. (Did you know that oatmeal naturally has protein in it?!)
  5. Granola parfaits. We love using Homemade Granola, some Vegan Cream and fresh or frozen berries. Layer the granola, the cream, and the berries in a clear glass for fun presentation or easy eating on the go!
  6. Breakfast Sandwiches. This is another great idea if you like some variation in your mornings. There are countless ways you can make a breakfast sandwich. Here is one great idea for building a Classic Sandwich.
  7. Whole Wheat Toast with Peanut Butter and Applesauce. My girls love this any morning that we have homemade bread in the house.
  8. Banana Bread and Grits. We are obsessed with this Healthy Banana Bread recipe.
  9. Rice Cereal with Milk, Cinnamon, and Honey. This is a great breakfast when you have leftover rice from the night before. My oldest daughter asks for this for dessert whenever we have rice in the house. Just warm the precooked rice with some milk in the microwave or on the stove. Add honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon!
  10. Granola and Toast.  Make some Granola and homemade bread on the weekend and you have yourself an easy, healthy breakfast every day that week. 
  11. Eggs and Potatoes. Peel and cut those potatoes on the weekend and stick them in an airtight container with water covering them. Making potatoes during the week just got a whole lot simpler!
  12. Savory Hot Cereal. Add salsa and an egg to any hot cereal for a savory spin.
  13. Eggs and Muffins. My girls get giddy any time I tell them we are making muffins. Try making different kinds of muffins each Sunday for a month. Then add some eggs to your breakfast for some protein. Make the eggs a different way every day of the week your family will be delighted with this delicious breakfast.
  14. Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa. Try this recipe from Bob’s Red Mill this autumn if you want to mix up your hot cereal routine. 
  15. Avocado Toast. Cookie and Kate has great several variations on this hipster classic.  
  16. Mini Frittatas. Make your favorite Frittata Recipe then cook it in a muffin pan instead of a skillet. (Another great protein-rich road trip breakfast or camping breakfast!)
  17. Breakfast Tostadas. Like Breakfast for Dinner? Try Dinner for breakfast with Breakfast Tostadas! 
  18. Whole Wheat Pancakes. If you are short on time, but love pancakes for breakfast, mix up the dry ingredients and place them in baggies or containers. One for each day of the week. Also, portion out your wet ingredients for the week. Then in the morning, just grab one of the dry ingredient containers and one of the wet. Add any wet ingredients that you need to add the morning of (like bananas in This Recipe), then mix a cook!  
  19. Fruit Smoothies and Toast. Simple and fun! Try this Banana Almond Smoothie Recipe.
  20. Muesli. Muesli is like a cold version of overnight oats. This is a lesser-known easy make-ahead option. Here is a simple recipe for Bircher Muesli
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Ready to Stop Feeling Stressed About Meal Planning?

Then check out Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning!

In Set-it-and-Forget-it Meal Planning, you will learn how to 

  • Create a Breakfast Rotation
  • Create a Lunch Rotation
  • Create a Snack Rotation
  • Choose Theme Nights
  • Create Rotations for Each Theme Night
  • Fill in Your Meal Planning Calendar

Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning walks you through my unique method for setting up your meal plan so you will never have to start from square one again!

Plus you will receive the Set-It-And-Forget-It Meal Planning Workbook and Spreadsheet and email support from me anytime you have questions.

I hope to see you inside the course!

(Or if you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of gal, you can check out my DIY Meal Planning Resources!) 

You may also like these posts:

How to Work Leftovers into your Meal Plan will help you waste less food (and cook less!) every week.

If you’re ready to get started with a step-by-step guild to meal planning, read How to Begin Meal Planning When You Don’t Know Where to Start.

If you’d like to take a peek at Seasonal Meal Planning, the Ultimate Guide to Seasonal Meal Planning will get you started.

Want to take saving money with meal planning even further? Check out 37 Ways to Save Money on Groceries.

If you still aren’t sure if Meal Planning is right for you, check out The Pros and Cons of Meal Planning for Moms: How to Know if Meal Planning is Right for You.

Weekly Meal Planning for Busy Moms
Weekly Meal Planning for Beginners
How to Get Started Planning Quick, Healthy Breakfasts!