Weekly Meal Plan for the Busy Mom

Weekly Meal Plan

By Sarah Haan, for SparkPeople and Stepfanie Romine, co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"

All cookbooks geared toward moms say the same thing: Plan ahead, cook in large batches and plan out your weekly meals. Although this is great advice and a crucial part of making a healthy lifestyle work, it's sometimes easier said than done, especially for a busy mom. Getting going is the hardest part, but with our 7-day menu, you can start practicing, pick up a few tricks and start cooking!

While the work and school week starts on Monday, your home runs 24/7. It may seem odd that this menu begins with the weekend, but this is no accident. You generally have more free time on weekends, so we'll help you take advantage of that extra time. By clumping the two days together, you can more easily plan ahead for the busy week to come.

The goal of this seven-day meal plan is to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, give you delicious and useful leftovers, and keep you moving in your everyday life--all while serving delicious food that your family will love.

Our menu is calculated for a family of four all eating equal portions, but depending on the appetites and ages of your children, you might have more leftovers--or none at all! We know that each family's preferences are different, so feel free to swap whatever fruits and vegetables your family likes, and while we recommend low-fat or skim milk for grown-ups, give your children whatever you and their health-care provider believe is best.

(Note: Do not give nuts to children under three or honey to children under age 1, and give age-appropriate bites to avoid choking.)

We've given you three meals a day, and we also recommend that you add in one or two of your favorite nutritious snacks, for both you and the kids.

Be sure to print our grocery list and Printable Meal Plan Calendar to accompany this meal plan!

The Brainless Banana Pancakes are perfect for a Saturday morning. Make a double batch so there's enough for the entire family. Make this meal heartier with a dollop of peanut butter on each pancake after it's cooked. Spreading on 1 T of nutty goodness will add about 180 calories per serving to energize your day and will give you a dose of heart disease-fighting unsaturated fats, as well as some filling protein. Serve with an 8 oz glass of low fat or fat free milk.

440 calories 11 g fat

Tip: Swap the banana pancakes for your family's favorite variety! Make extra pancakes and freeze them for busy mornings. You can also use regular milk if you don't want to buy soymilk. If you do buy soymilk, use it on cereal later in the week or to make smoothies for a snack.

Grab a three-pound precooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store today. Bring it home, discard the skin and shred the meat. You'll get a few meals out of it.

Today for lunch, make a double batch of the Chicken and Corn Chowder using two cups of the rotisserie chicken. You'll have 12 servings of soup, which means three meals! Separate the soup into three batches. Enjoy one now, refrigerate one to use this week, and freeze the third to pull out of the freezer for a quick meal down the road. (Just be sure to label and date it so it doesn't get forgotten in the freezer!) Serve each cup of soup with a slice of toasted whole-grain bread. (Leave out the jalapenos in this recipe if you don't like spicy food.)

430 calories 8 g fat

Tip: Save money by buying a chicken and roasting it yourself. (Or roast two and freeze the meat.) You can even make stock from the bones and leftovers. You can also use grilled, baked or poached chicken breasts, if you'd like.

Break out the grill and get ready to cook! For dinner tonight, it's Grilled Salmon with Dill.

NOTE: The FDA says that pregnant women can eat up to 12 ounces of safe fish per week, including chunk light tuna, salmon, catfish, shrimp and pollock.

Also, while the grill is hot, cook a double batch of Marinated Veggie Kabobs to enjoy with the salmon, and toss on 4 medium pork chops for Monday's dinner. (Season them with your favorite spice rub.) When the pork is done, let it cool a bit, and then place in the fridge until you're ready to eat it later in the week. Make a double batch of Low Cholesterol Scalloped Potatoes as well, serving half tonight and refrigerating the rest for a heat-and-eat side with the chops. Pour a cup of milk, too.

500 calories 14 g fat

Tip: Use whatever vegetables that your family likes in your kabobs. Eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, and any kind of root vegetable will grill well. You can also use another herb on your salmon if you prefer. Be sure to use dried herbs, as fresh ones will burn on the grill.

Click here to view the rest of the Weekly Meal Plan.

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SparkRecipes.com editor Stepfanie Romine is a certified yoga teacher and co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A vegetarian and runner, she has lived and cooked on three continents.