Meal Planning Tips for a Stress Free Back to School Season

The back-to-school season can be a whirlwind of activity for families because of new schedules, homework, sports, and extracurricular activities. Meal planning is a great way to alleviate stress when It feels like everyone wants our attention. Especially when we know that hearing the words, “what’s for dinner?” will put us into a tailspin.

Evenings can easily turn into chaos as we try to get dinner on the table. However, with some strategic meal planning, you can create stress-free evenings for your family and your sanity. Here are four meal planning tips to help you sail through this busy time with ease.

1. Set Up a Weekly Meal Plan

a woman meal planning
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on

The key to less chaotic evenings is a well-structured meal plan. Take some time each week to sit down and plan your family’s meals. Start by considering everyone’s schedules and commitments. Are there nights when you have less time to cook? Plan for simple, quick meals on those evenings. Make a list of the dishes you want to prepare for the week, taking into account any leftovers or ingredients you already have on hand.

Pro Tip: Get the whole family involved in meal planning. Let each member suggest their favorite meals and create a master list of meal-time favorites. You would be surprised how quickly you can come up with 30 meals that you know will get eaten.

2. Prep Ahead of Time

vegetables inside a net bag
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Once you have your meal plan in place, it’s time to prep. Start by making a shopping list to ensure you have everything you need. If you don’t have time to shop, take advantage of things like grocery pick-up, or delivery. Next, spend some time on the weekend or during a less hectic day chopping vegetables, marinating proteins, or even cooking a batch of grains like rice or quinoa. Prepping ahead can save you precious minutes on busy weeknights and make cooking dinner a breeze.

Pro Tip: Invest in good quality food storage containers to keep your prepped ingredients fresh and organized in the fridge.

3. Embrace One-Pot and Sheet Pan Meals

appetizing penne pasta with processed cheese near sauces
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During the back-to-school season, you’ll want to minimize the time spent on cooking and cleaning up. One-pot and sheet pan meals are your best friends in this regard. They require minimal prep, use fewer dishes, and often result in delicious, well-balanced meals.

Pro Tip: Search for one-pot or sheet pan recipes that match your family’s preferences, and add them to your meal plan regularly.

4. Plan for Leftovers

a person holding the lid of a food container of leftovers
Photo by Greta Hoffman on

Don’t underestimate the power of leftovers! Cook extra portions when making meals, and you’ll have ready-made lunches or dinners for the next day. This not only saves time but also reduces food waste, contributing to a happier household budget.

Pro Tip: Label and date your leftovers to ensure they’re used promptly and stay fresh.

In conclusion, meal planning is a game-changer for creating stress-free evenings during the back-to-school season. With an organized family and an organized home, you’ll have more time to relax, help with homework, or simply enjoy quality family time. Start implementing these meal planning tips, and you’ll find that dinnertime can be a breeze, even during the busiest times of the year. Happy meal planning!

Published by Jenn DePauw - Organized Priorities

Jenn is the owner of Organized Priorities, a Colorado-based company specializing in Organization, Productivity, and Operations. As an organization and productivity professional, Jenn specializes in individual and team productivity coaching as well as organization for both individuals and small businesses. She is also the author of The Organized Priorities Blog (, an organization and lifestyle blog that focuses on making life more organized, more productive, and a little easier. For helpful tips on everything from weekly planning to home organization, and daily celebrations to words of encouragement you can follow @organizedpriorities on Instagram.

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