Rhythms: 3 Tips to Make Meal Planning Work for You

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I'm Ashley

I’m a mama to three kiddos, wife to Phil, and lover of Jesus! I'm passionate about finding, creating, and celebrating beauty in the everyday. So happy you are here, friend. 


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If you are looking to create family rhythms this upcoming year, you’re in the right spot. Each day this week an inspiring mama will be sharing their best tips and tricks for creating space and rhythms so you can spend more time with your family. I am so excited to kick things off by introducing you to Natasha, the amazing mama behind The Seasonal Meal Planner. Natasha helps women organize their meals and create an intentional plan for hospitality, so that they can invest their energy into people not just food! Be sure to grab your pen & a piece of paper (or our FREE Intentional Family Time Goal Setting Printable) and get ready to jot down some notes. She is sharing 3 Tips To Make Meal Planning Work For You and goodness her tips are SO good. Sweet friends, meet Natasha!

Creating Rhythms: 3 Tips to Make Meal Planning Work for You by Natasha Red on The Littles & Me

As mama’s with full lives and bustling households, do meal times seem to sneak up on you? When I first became a mom it seemed like dinner was the last thing on my mind. My poor husband would come home and I would have actually completely forgotten to make dinner. Some nights I didn’t even have food in the fridge for it! I quickly learned that something needed to change. I have since come up with a system that has helped me both plan ahead for meals and get those meals on the table in the least stressful way possible each day.

My heart is to help you make meal planning work for you so you can spend more time with your kids and loving on others in your community. Because really, when we get to be 80 what are we going to remember more? The thousands of meals that graced our tables or the faces and memories of our precious children as they grew under our care? I want to have buckets of memories from these years and the patience and energy needed to invest well in my littles. Meal planning helps me achieve that while also practically helping me fill their bellies with good food.

Creating Rhythms: 3 Tips to Make Meal Planning Work for You by Natasha Red on The Littles & Me

Tip #1: Meal plan on a seasonal recipe rotation.

What is a seasonal recipe rotation? It is a set of 16 dinner recipes that you choose at the beginning of each season. Each season lasts 3 months, so choosing 16 recipes means that I will rotate through all of them approximately 5 times. Not bad! Seasonal meal planning has cut my weekly meal planning time down to 20 minutes or less. I used to spend over an hour meal planning each week! I am so grateful for the time I’ve gained back to spend with my people. It might not be sexy but it gets our family fed in a simple, healthy and sustainable way. Because most of the meals on our rotation are ones we know and love, I don’t struggle at all during the week to figure out what to make for dinner. I also rarely get bored of what we’re eating because we rotate for 3 months, then switch things up all over again. This keeps meals exciting but still simple. For a busy mama of two, that’s all I can ask for 😉

Tip #2: Meal prep on Saturdays.

I’m a firm believer in taking one day a week to rest and refuel. This is something that has become a necessity for me as a recovering perfectionist whose natural bent is to find my worth in what I can produce. As moms, our healthiest selves are our most rested selves, so I’ve committed to meal prepping on Saturdays right after we pick up our groceries from the store. I’ll hard boil some eggs, make my husbands lunches for the week, make up some muffins for the kids, chop some veggies for easy snacking – and stock the fridge. A happy fridge means a happy family and a way less stressed out mama all week long. Join our movement to prep well on Saturday for a well rested Sunday and use the hashtag #NRMealPrepSaturday if you do!

Tip #3: Cook in batches throughout the day or at the very least, prep dinner early!

I’ve developed a little habit of preparing dinner earlier in the day to free up some of my time around dinner time, a.k.a the witching hours. My kids have always (no matter what age) needed me way more between the hours of 4-7 pm than at any other point during the day. Because of this, I make sure to do some dinner prep while they are playing happily in the back yard after breakfast, or while I put together their lunches, or in the 10 minute chunks where they may be off in another room somewhere playing. It’s super tempting to use these times to zone out, but my best days with the kids honestly happen when I prepare ahead and all that needs to be done come dinner time is reheat or throw something in the oven. It’s the best feeling ever.

Creating Rhythms: 3 Tips to Make Meal Planning Work for You by Natasha Red on The Littles & Me

Finally, be gracious with yourself. We are all on a journey and food looks SO different for everyone. Whether you’re trying to feed your family healthier foods, or you’re working full time and come home just in time to eat and jump into the bath time/bed time hustle, I believe meal planning can change your family dynamic and fuel not only the bodies of those who join you at the table (both big and small!) but also the souls of those people as well.

As a mom to two, I need all my energy for these kids, but we also have to eat, so I try to make the most of the time that we have and plan ahead! This frees me up to handle the pre-bedtime melt downs with a lot more grace than if I was worried about dinner. Trust me, I’ve been on the opposite end more times than I can count. As moms we want the best for our kids, but need to remember that we are a work in progress too. Whenever I start feeling like I need to work to earn my keep in this family, I repeat these words to myself and they always bring me back to what matters: “Natasha, you’re not trying to win any awards today. Simply do the best with what you have and leave the rest to God.”

Creating Rhythms: 3 Tips to Make Meal Planning Work for You by Natasha Red on The Littles & Me

Aren’t these tips pure gold? Thank you for sharing your wisdom and practical tips around meal planning, Natasha! If you loved these tips, be sure to go check out her website. She has so many amazing resources (like a FREE 5 Day Meal Planning Course and Hospitality Devotional), a fantastic cookbook, and the most beautiful Seasonal Meal Planner. She is one of the most relatable, down to earth, and truly genuine mamas that I’ve been so lucky to get to know on Instagram, so please be sure to pop on by her site and say hello!

You can follow along with Natasha here:

Website | InstagramFacebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Be sure to stop by each day this week for the best tips and tricks for creating space and rhythms so you can spend more time with your family!

Love these tips to make meal planning work for you? Pin them for later!

Creating Rhythms: 3 Tips to Make Meal Planning Work for You by Natasha Red on The Littles & Me

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  1. Sarah Street says:

    I LOVE the idea of prepping a little at a time so as not to make the “witching hour” too hectic! Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Chelsea says:

    I love your tips!! Would you be interested in sharing some of your recipes?

  3. Beth says:

    Oh MERCY! These are now my favorite blogs (and will probably also be the source of my Super-Mom powers 😉). I absolutely despise the evening meal at our house. It irritates me to no end, I’m talking fingernails on a chalkboard sort of irritating.
    I have insomnia and we’ve had a horrible year, so our routine is just… gone, but I know Good has His eye on us! Your blog is awesome and I know it’s going to be one of the things I use the most to reset our routines and get the family time we need. Thanks!

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