meal planning as a new mama

Hey there! I’m here with a post on a topic + area that has been in the making for a while now…meal planning as a new mom. With a now three month old, I feel like I’ve gotten a better pattern going (aka I know this little man better so I’m able to get some things done around his schedule!). Plus, I was quite the meal planner back in the day and I truly miss doing it.

I think this topic is especially important as a new mama - we have A LOT on our plates and we need to be efficient decision-making busy bees. So…

Here are the reasons why I especially need to meal plan as a new mom:

  • DECISION FATIGUE. Have you heard the notion that you tire of making decisions as the day progresses? I SO get this because I’m mentally done by the time dinner rolls around. If a meal isn’t planned, then I’m overthinking trying to figure out what to make while wasting time trying to figure it out. Add in being suuuuuper tired because I’m up in the night with a young one and it’s a recipe for disaster… pun intended??

  • STRUCTURE. I really crave structure and routine. It’s been lacking for some time now & this felt like a small step to adding it back in. It links back to point #1 too - if we have it on the calendar for X meal on X day, then it’s just known what we’ll be having for dinner.

  • BETTER ON THE WALLET. This totally applies in the new mama department because kids aren’t cheap, so we need to save money where we can ;) I find that when I plan out meals, I try to be more mindful of what’s in the home to use up & make sure that gets worked into that week’s plan. But we’ll get into that deeper in this post…

Ideally I would like to have meals for the new week planned on Saturday or Sunday, but Nia had today (Monday) off school, so I planned everything out this morning then did a run to Trader Joe’s with both kiddos. A little Motivate on the car vents to get us pumped up!

 
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So the above is all based on the following principles I apply when it comes to planning out my meals for the week.

Before I let you in on my meal planning process, I wanted to show you the plan for this week after stocking up this morning:

  • tofu + veggie stir-fry with rice noodles

  • lentil sloppy joes

  • burrito bowls (Chipotle knock-offs)

  • buddha bowls

  • vegan mac n cheese with kale caesar salad

  • chickpea + sweet potatoes + sauteed cababge

  • lunch ideas: red lentil curry soup, salads & leftovers

All of the above is based on the following principles I apply when it comes to planning out my meals for the week…

  1. Take note of what’s already in the house. I scan my pantry first to see what beans/legumes I have since those make up the bulk of our vegan meals.

  2. Check the fridge for produce status. Ideally, I LOVE clearing the fridge of produce before going out and buying new stuff, but we more recently started getting organic produce delivered straight to our home (more on that another time), and that doesn’t arrive until Wednesday morning. It makes it a little tricky for the whole “new week, new meal plan” schedule, so I do my best to work in the stuff leftover from the past Wednesday before our new shipment arrives. Either way, I’m scanning the fridge after the pantry to get a better idea of what to include in meals.

  3. Now that those two important things are out of the way, I get to work! This is when I pull out my fave cookbooks and scan the internet for inspiration! I also have a binder with recipes I’ve used consistently over the years, so recipes are always pulled from that, too. I try to make it a point to use up what we already have (see why the actual PLANNING part is soooo important?!)

  4. Once I have an idea of meals for the week, I deduce them and rearrange based on proteins. I try to not sandwich the same proteins back-to-back. So, for example, if we’re having tofu on Tuesday, I wouldn’t add another tofu or tempeh (also a soy product) meal on Wednesday. I would leave at least a day break between them. This is purely to keep things fresh & new!

  5. I like to include varied proteins. This is the amazing thing about being vegan - there are SO many protein options… tofu, tempeh, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, quinoa, brown rice, heck even broccoli has protein! So I plan out my meals according to wha the MAIN protein is in that dish and then like point #4 states, arrange them so they’re all spread out. Which brings me to…

  6. Organizing the meals by days. Because now that I have my proteins all sorted out, I can arrange them in a weekly schedule. Plus, I take into consideration what’s going on that night. For instance, Nia has dance on Thursday night which means hustle time. This is normally a mac n cheese or pizza night just out of convenience and ease.

AND THAT’S IT!!

My mama brain already feels SO much better this week knowing I have a tentative plan in place. And I say ‘tentative’ because let’s be honest, with a little one, the week is very unpredictable. If we’ve had a bad day and I absolutely don’t feel like cooking, then we do take out & I have NO hard feelings about it. My mental health is just as important as all of the above!

I hope this helped the new mamas out or anyone looking for some better insight into meal planning. You can keep up with how I’m actually doing with this plan on Instagram. I’d love to connect more with you there ;)