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Meal planning. It’s such a great concept, isn’t it?!?

It’s a great theory! You spend time making a list of your family’s favorite meals, finding new recipes that you know they’ll love, grocery shopping for just the items on your list (or cheating and using your grocery store’s pickup)….

And then….

I love the idea behind meal planning, and trust me when I say that I’ve created meal plans from start to finish. But it doesn’t always work, does it?

What do you do when your meal plan doesn’t work? How do you make a meal plan that fits your family’s on-the-go lifestyle?

I’ve had all the ingredients laid out on the counter, only to realize that I forgot to thaw the chicken. Or the kids were sick and I never even made it to the grocery store. Or I’ve shopped on Monday, only to find that the green beans had fur growing on them by Friday.

UGH!

Meal planning is hard enough, but then you have to actually cook the meal!

Maybe you love cooking, but just can’t find the time to get dinner on the table. Or, maybe you can’t cook to save your life.

Either way, dinner doesn’t have to be difficult, even if you have no idea how to meal plan.

How to make dinner (even if you can’t cook)

Cheat!

We don’t eat out that often. My kids have food allergies and trying new restaurants takes on a whole new level of terror in our house. I’ve had to get creative when cheating on our meal plan.

Confession time: I’m a pretty bad cook. I can’t pair ingredients to save my life and my son once told his teacher that he was grateful for waitresses. #Worstmomever

When I make meal plans, they usually consist of our favorite (i.e. foolproof) meals: spaghetti, tacos, and the occasional stir fry (I try not to overcook it too much), so clearly we’re not creative on our cheating. 😉

So how do I cheat if we don’t eat out and I’m a terrible cook?

We use Hello Fresh.

It eliminates the need to grocery shop, sends every ingredient that I’ll need in clearly labeled pouches so I know not to give my kids the walnut glaze, and has very specific instructions that even I don’t mess up,

Hello Fresh sends my family of four three meals a week. It’s enough to feed us (and we usually have leftovers). It’s also healthy, and you can choose recipes based on your family’s diet restrictions.

The other four days when we’re not using Hello Fresh? We use our “time crunch” helpers.

How to make dinner when you have no time

I’m a little bit of a hoarder (just ask my mom, who freaks out every time she sees the stockpile of toilet paper, kleenex, and paper towels in my overflowing pantry).

While my hoarding tendencies save my family the embarrassment of running out of toilet paper, it’s also saved us when it’s time for dinner.

If you love to cook, try batch cooking. Each time you make a meal, prepare double the amount and freeze half.

I’ve been doing this for years with shredded chicken and fresh fruits or vegetables.

But preparing an entire meal ahead of time? That sounded complicated, not to mention tasteless (mushy noodles, anyone?!?).

Then I found MyFreezEasy, and I’ve been batch cooking ever since.

Every month, there’s a new downloadable meal plan. You can choose meals based on what you have on hand (use those 10 packs of chicken that you bought when it was on sale). It’s also really easy to select meals based on how you want to prepare it (you can choose slow cooker, Instant Pot, or traditional recipes).

It’s great if you’re trying to meal plan on a budget.

The MyFreezEasy menu also contains simple recipes (even I can make them). You can cook them all at once (Sunday Funday takes on a new meaning) or you can make them two-by-two (prep two meals at the same time – one to make and one to freeze).

We finally have a stocked freezer.

And on those days when I forget to thaw something? I just use my Instant Pot!

Whether you hate cooking or just need a jump start getting something on the table, using Hello Fresh or MyFreezEasy (or both) can make preparing dinner so much easier. Your family will be fed (no waitresses needed).

P.S. Until January 5, you can download the Ultimate Healthy Meal Planning Bundle. You can download the mini meal planning bundle or batch cooking bundle, or just download the entire super bundle, which has the whole collection of made-for-you meal plans, organized shopping lists, no-brainer tips, PLUS over 3,800 recipes.

Related Reading on Organized Motherhood:

The Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning

How to Create a Meal Plan that Works for You

Hate meal planning but need to get dinner on the table in a hurry? These meal planning alternatives will have you creating easy, delicious meals in no time.