How to Meal Plan for Beginners

 In this episode I talk with Angie Trueblood, the mama behind and she reveals her tip to find the recipes your family will eat and how little time it takes to meal plan.  I am so excited and inspired because meal planning is the one thing that trips me up in my weekly schedule.  Be sure to grab the printable for planning and all Angie's resources!

In this episode I talk with Angie Trueblood, the mama behind and she reveals her tips to help you find the recipes your family will eat.  

When I think of meal planning I feel like I am back in graduate school and getting ready to settle in for a 2 hour lecture.  


Angie breaks it down into manageable steps that even I can follow.  How about starting out with just one week at a time and about 15 minutes to plan out your week?

When I did an inventory of my weekly schedule, the one thing that trips me up every time is dinner.  Be sure to catch this episode so you can figure out what's tripping you up in your schedule.

With four kiddos, two of which play soccer, my afternoon schedule can be a little challenging with dinner prep starting at 3PM.  After my conversation with Angie, I feel like I am going to be able to tackle the first thing on my list to help my family dinner time and take some baggage off my shoulders and free up my mind to focus on other things. 

This week I have lots of resource for you to use.  

First, Be sure to grab the meal planning printable found in the Mama Hacks Library. AND you have to visit Angie at

I loved Angie's workbook and how to declutter recipes!  If you have a Pinterest board full of recipes [who doesn't] I highly recommend you hop over and check out her resources.  Not to mention, What the Fork is for Dinner!

In case you like to read instead of watching or listening to the conversation, I have a complete transcription for you.


Rhonda:    In today's episode, you know, last week we talked about getting tripped up in your schedule, and I shared that I can't cook. For a mom that has six people in her family, that's a real issue. Earlier this year I met this girl, and her name is Angie Trueblood, and we were out in the lobby, we were having this conversation. She was like, "What do you do?" I said, "Well what do you do?" She's like, "Well I do meal planning." I said, "I need you in my life because I can't cook." This episode is going to be dedicated to meal planning. It's going to be meal planning for those who don't know what meal planning is all the way to those who are more experienced, all right? Buckle up, grab your favorite cup of coffee, and I mean this is almost like ... I feel like we're doing a coach call here and you're coaching me. Angie, Angie, welcome, welcome. 

Angie Trueblood:    Hi. It is so good, glad to be here. I just told [Rhonda 00:01:04], I could talk about meal planning all day long. I love it and it's my sweet spot, so I'm super excited to be here with you. 

Rhonda:    Well let's just talk about how you even got started with meal planning. I mean, what was that? What happened?

 In this episode I talk with Angie Trueblood, the mama behind and she reveals her tip to find the recipes your family will eat and how little time it takes to meal plan.  I am so excited and inspired because meal planning is the one thing that trips me up in my weekly schedule.  Be sure to grab the printable for planning and all Angie's resources!

Angie Trueblood:    I have little people in my life that require dinner. My husband and I, we're kind of foodies in the sense that we really like trying new restaurants, and before we had children, cooking a nice meal was sort of a relaxing thing for us. Then once we had kiddos, the meal time hour was no longer relaxing, it was stressful. I was working full in a corporate job, so outside of the home, and he's still in the education system. We would get home, and it was just a service. It was what I really wanted to reconnect with my family, but it's like you walked in the door, and you just needed to start making dinner. It got a little bit more complicated as we had kids. For me, it started just out of necessity, which is where I think all great ideas start from. You know me enough to know that I am a connector by nature, so when I am struggling with something, I reach out to my people, and ask for help. 

    I started a Facebook group, I mean it was probably 2010 before they were a thing. It was just of my girlfriends, and they had invited their friends, and we would just share dinner tips and tricks, and it just kind of grew from there. It was really me trying to systematize what dinner would look like so that at the end of the day it wasn't something that I dreaded, it was something to where we could sit down at the table and reconnect. It was all about family connection and really kind of less about the food. For me, getting dinner on the table is just an avenue for us to be able to reconnect and really create family memories. That safe space for everyone to collect at the end of the day. 

Rhonda:    I love that. You know I'm all about systems and I talk a lot about ... Really I think as moms we compartmentalize, this is what I do at work, this is what I do at home, and they don't marry each other. Taking systems, or taking a system, or the idea of a system, and applying that to something that every mom needs in their life, it works. For me, it clicks, it makes sense. However, I am going to tell you that when it comes to the word meal planning, when you say meal planning, I feel like we're at a board table, and it's going to take me a couple of hours, and it's a turnoff for me, but I know it's something I need to do. It's almost like a job. I know that you're going to change my attitude about this, and you're going to help other people just kind of go over that summit, and see nirvana on the other side.

    Let's talk about meal planning. I mean, how long does it take to meal plan? 

Angie Trueblood:    Ideally, in a perfect world, I don't think it should take longer than 15 minutes for a given week. Right? Okay. 

Rhonda:    I love it.

Angie Trueblood:    Bear with me. If you have a system in place that works for you and your family, when you sit down to meal plan for the week, ideally you're not making a lot of decisions. You're almost just matching up what your weeks calendar looks like with the meals that you've already decided are good fits for your family. It's funny you say your work life and your home life, I am very strategic in nature in whatever I do. When we set our meal plan for week, it really is around what we have going on for the week, and then we have just sort of a system, I guess, it's a collection of family favorite meal ideas. Some are recipes, some are just tacos, you know what I mean? I don't need a recipe to make tacos. Then we kind of match them up for what we have going on for the week. 

    It doesn't need to be complicated. I feel like sometimes some people hear meal planning, they think you're creating this huge system, right? I recommend for people that are just getting started, or are super intimidated by it, forget the whole idea of a system. I've had a girlfriend who we met in a business sense, and then she came into my meal planning Facebook group. She showed me one day, we went out for dinner, and she had a little pink index card, and she just jotted down the meals for the week, and that was her meal plan for the week. If you're just getting started doing something that simple, is really ideal, because I feel like it gives you a quick win, which whenever we're trying to do something new, having a quick win is going to get us that much closer to taking the next step. An index card could be a great start for you. 

Rhonda:    Well and we're going to have a printable that is going to be associated with this particular episode as well. We'll get to that later on, but I love that ... You know, I'm a huge proponent of taking it out of your head and getting it down on paper, or getting it down on a digital tool that I like to use. That's the big thing, because I carry around the stress of ... I mean when you wake up in the morning you don't want to be thinking about what you're cooking for dinner. For me, sometimes, I need to be cooking dinner at 3 o'clock in order to make all of my evening obligations, my children are a little bit older. We're going here, but then I still have people that are left home to try to find for themselves. I love that, just the simplicity of a pink three by five card, that works for ... that's awesome. 

Angie Trueblood:    Yeah, that's all you need to get started. It will allow you ... I recommend doing it on the weekend, like before your week get started, so that you know what you have going on, so that you can pick meals that work for, "Oh this Tuesday we're going to be split up, so I'm going to need something that's going to work for people at home, and also people on the go." No, I mean I think just start small is going to give you the confidence to eventually come up with a system, but it's all about taking the decision making, and knocking it out on a Sunday, so that throughout the week you're not deciding what's for dinner. It will give you the sense of calm, knowing dinner is taken care of. I know what I need to do, I just need to execute it.

 In this episode I talk with Angie Trueblood, the mama behind and she reveals her tip to find the recipes your family will eat and how little time it takes to meal plan.  I am so excited and inspired because meal planning is the one thing that trips me up in my weekly schedule.  Be sure to grab the printable for planning and all Angie's resources!

Rhonda:    All right, so I feel like I'm still back in elementary school. You are talking to someone who probably has a bag of tricks of five different meals, and of them includes a Publix chicken. Help me, because before we actually started recording, you had just a fantastic method that totally clicked with me. For those of us who don't have a bag of tricks of recipes, and see a Pinterest pin with a thousand meal ideas, help me to know where to go. How do I figure out what they're going to eat?

Angie Trueblood:    Okay, so I don't think Pinterest is the place to start, as much as we all love it, and it's great for business.

Rhonda:    Right.

Angie Trueblood:    I don't think that is the place to start when you're trying to figure out how to meal plan for your family. First I would challenge you that you do have more than five ideas that work for your family. I would say ... you're like, "No, it's literally five." I would challenge you and say maybe tonight at dinner, have everyone, just ask everyone in the family, "Hey what are some things that you guys like to eat at home?" Just let everyone kind of brainstorm, and write those down. I think, and maybe it is five, maybe you're totally right, and you have to let me know. Write down your five ideas and from those, sometimes you'll think, "Oh okay, well that Publix chicken, we ate it just like a chicken, one night, but then there was that one night that we made it as chicken quesadillas." Really you just start and brain dump anything that you've ever made at home that has been remotely successful, that the majority of people in your family were pleased with. 

    I think often we sell ourselves short and we don't recognize that some of what we're already doing is working. Start with what is working. Then I recommend before you go out searching for new recipes, and meal ideas, first, seeing where you're lacking a little bit of variety. If you know that you're a family that's on the go, and all of the meal ideas that you have listed take you an hour to prep and cook, that's not going to be a good fit for a meal plan that you can really execute on the fly. Identify where you kind of have holes in your meal planning system. Then you can search. Maybe then you would search for 15 minute family friendly recipes, whatever.

    One idea that I had given you before when you cut me off and were like, "We have to start recording." It is this idea, if you feel like you need more recipes, but you just don't know what website makes sense for you and your family, you just don't know like ... There's a couple of websites that I've gone to, and I'm like, "Oh my god, my kids are never going to eat ... " This is the one that always sticks with me, "Quinoa stuffed peppers." I'm like, I remember going to a website, seeing on the front page, and closing out, because I knew it was just not for my family, the season of life that we're in. Take a meal that you already cook for your family, maybe not the Publix chicken, but something that's a little more involved. Not involved, but that you cook more from scratch at home. Try to find that on the internet. 

    Take whatever that recipe is, maybe it is chicken enchiladas, and do a search, and try to find that recipe that kind of matches up the best with how you cook it at home, and that's probably a really good website for you to get meal ideas from. I always do even at my other business, I kind of do reverse strategy to find things. Find something that's really similar to what's already working for you at home, and then see what else that blog, or that website, or that Pinterest board, has to offer, because it's probably in line with what your family appreciates. 

Rhonda:    That, when you said that ... Okay, so a couple of things. Number one, you said 15 minutes, what works with your schedule, because we've talked about scheduling. Then working backwards from things that you are already making, so for me now that's only four things. Those four meal ideas to even check out a meatloaf, and the go see those ingredients, because I know as moms, mine aren't little, but they still can be picky eaters. I'm not making, I do not have time to make a separate meal for each child. I know now, especially with allergies, food allergies, and things like that, it's really, really, really important that we take note of the ingredients. I know those moms who have children, they're doing those things already. Finding those websites that are similar to what you're already cooking, I never even thought about that. 

 In this episode I talk with Angie Trueblood, the mama behind and she reveals her tip to find the recipes your family will eat and how little time it takes to meal plan.  I am so excited and inspired because meal planning is the one thing that trips me up in my weekly schedule.  Be sure to grab the printable for planning and all Angie's resources!

Angie Trueblood:    Yeah.

Rhonda:    That makes it easy. 

Angie Trueblood:    Yeah, I mean, even you saying meatloaf, because you said that's what you guys had last night, something that you can even search for ... You could find a meatloaf recipe similar to what you're already doing, but you could also almost Google search for twists on traditional meatloaf. Maybe you could find a meatloaf recipe with a totally different flavor profile, but the base of it is similar to what you're already making. It would seem different, but your family would probably be open to trying it, and it would be pretty easy, because you're already use to making that type of food. 

Rhonda:    Now when you're sitting down to do your meal planning, and even your girlfriend with the pink three by five, she was doing it a week at a time. I guess, starter, like for me, who has that phobia of meal planning, it's going to take time, and  for me just to do it for a week at a time, right now, right? 

Angie Trueblood:    Okay, yeah. It pauses for the second.

Rhonda:    Okay.

Angie Trueblood:    Yeah, I would recommend starting only with a week at a time.

Rhonda:    Okay.

Angie Trueblood:    Eventually getting to a month is something that I don't always execute to plan, because your month is going to change, but there is something really calming about having identified what meals you're going to have each night of the week, even if you need to tweak it by week three. The fact that you've already made that decision feels rather amazing to know that part is kind of done. Even with my week meal plan, I don't always meal plan into the weekend, because I don't know if we might want to go out, or I don't know if my husband's schedule is going to shift, and so I will often meal plan for sure through Thursday, and then have an idea of what Friday is going to look like, and then Saturday and Sunday we'll either do leftovers, or we can pick up something, you know, depending on what our schedule looks like.

Rhonda:    Right, and I like ... Because before meal planning, I look at a calendar, and it's completely blank. That, for me, is overwhelming. It's something I know I need to do, but if I look at my current schedule, and I see what those activities already are, and then can plug the meal in to that schedule. It's meeting all of our needs. Because here's the other thing, I see with meal planning, I feel like you see some of these images, and I guess, we're living up to that Martha Stewart Pinterest image of someone is taking five hours, and they've dumped everything in a bag, and they've frozen it in their freezer meals for six months. That's what I feel. I'm like, "I can't do that, that's not me." What do you do with that? What do you do?

Angie Trueblood:    There is beauty in freezer meals. I am an advocate of it and actually once ... When I transition needing meal planning help myself, to making it a business, I actually became affiliated with a company called Wildtree. It's more of a traditional direct sales company, but I don't do parties, or anything like that anymore, I just love their products. They have meal helpers, but they also have these dinner prep kits. They're specifically designed for freezer meals. I love them and I typically, in an ideal world, I do one of their prep kids once every six weeks, or two months, and you can prep 10 meals and pop them in your freezer. It's nice, I never ... When I sit down on Sunday, I never want to feel like I'm starting from scratch to plan my week out, because that is also just more decisions that you have make. 

    If I have some freezer meals in our freezer, I can think, "Oh okay, well we're going to have this grilled asian ginger chicken on Tuesday." That will be Tuesday's dinner, and then often it's enough for us to have leftovers. I can repurpose it and make it into chicken enchiladas, or chicken sandwich, or chicken salad, on Thursday. Freezer meals are great from the sense of you are doing some of the prep work, and the execution on the front end, so that you don't have as much time in the kitchen when you're actually getting in there to cook. It's like you can have the benefit of more elaborate meals without having to spend the time in the kitchen, because there's no one that I know that wants to spend, for sure, on a weeknight, more than 30 minutes in the kitchen from start to finish. It's just the space we kind of live in right now, you know?

Rhonda:    Okay, so I think then, freezer meals then is like middle school. 

Angie Trueblood:    Don't say that yet. [inaudible 00:17:13].

Rhonda:    I'm not going to worry about it. I need to get my system down and I need to feel comfortable in planning, and just get my first week. Just get my first week down. I feel really confident, I don't feel overwhelmed, and I feel like I can do that. Let's just really quick, let's summarize, so 15 minutes is what we're talking about for meal planning, one week at a time. You could use your pink three by five card, or use a printable.

Angie Trueblood:    Yeah.

 In this episode I talk with Angie Trueblood, the mama behind and she reveals her tip to find the recipes your family will eat and how little time it takes to meal plan.  I am so excited and inspired because meal planning is the one thing that trips me up in my weekly schedule.  Be sure to grab the printable for planning and all Angie's resources!

Rhonda:    Then at first use those meals that you're comfortable with, that your family is eating right now. You're cooking one meal, that's it. Then doing kind of the research backwards, looking at what those ingredients are, for example meatloaf, doing a search, finding a similar recipe, and then going to that site, and then starting to search. Maybe filling the plug. That could be your next week. Maybe you're only adding one or two new meals the following week.

Angie Trueblood:    You're not add more than one or two. I would say if you're just starting, don't add more than one meal per week, one recipe, for instance. I would take that list of family favorites that you came up with and see if there's just ways that you can maybe tweak some of the spices, and flavorings, to make them feel different. I am a big proponent of theme nights, because again, it cuts down on the decision making. You could even do that in your second week. You could say, "Okay, what are the themes that we like? We might like an asian night, we might like a taco night, a pasta night," so that when you sit down on Sunday, you're like, "Okay, well Wednesday, okay it's pasta night. Perfect. What kind of pasta makes sense for what we have going on that Wednesday?" There's little ways that you can almost start to build a system. I have a whole course on it, but it really takes you through building a bank of recipes and meals, applying a bit of a rotation to it, it kind of steps you through the process of creating the system. Week on week, as you get more comfortable, you're going to be creating a system whether or not you know it, really. 

Rhonda:    How many meals are you really rotating? It sounds like we're looking at maybe 10 or 15 a month, if that.

Angie Trueblood:    Yeah, I mean it really depends on how much variety your family wants. I don't recommend ... I mean max 30, you know, because you could make that month after month. If you're just getting started I would say 15 to 20 and kind of live in that, you know, see if you feel like it's too repetitive, maybe some of the meals on there, once you cook them, you're like, "It's not really anything I want to keep on forever," and you can swap it out. That's the thing with meal planning, and really anything new that we take on, sometimes you're all in on the planning, and it gets overwhelming, and so you stop doing it. 

Rhonda:    Yeah.

Angie Trueblood:    Just [inaudible 00:20:00] that make sense so that you can still stay excited about it. 

Rhonda:    I'm already feeling better. I'm feeling lighter. 

Angie Trueblood:    I love it.

Rhonda:    We've gone elementary school, we've gone to middle school, now we're going to go to high school, because I really I want to talk about those folks who are more experienced, like you, because you've got a great method here for decluttering your recipes, and helping us manage your crazy Pinterest board that has 200 recipes on it that you would never even try.

Angie Trueblood:    Right. 

Rhonda:    What do we do?

Angie Trueblood:    I actually don't even use Pinterest for ... I mean I have Pinterest boards, but it's mainly for business, so people can go and see what recipes make sense. I never go to Pinterest to find recipes. It's kind of taking that system and more automating it. Maybe seeing where there's holes in your meal planning system that you need to plug in a different solution to cooking dinner at home every night. I am having ... I was over at a girlfriend's house over Christmas, and she has been doing Hello Fresh, and she was like, "I have a free week of it," I'm like, "I would love to try it." It's really getting your system running and then seeing are there ways that I can simplify this that works for my family? The idea for me, we're just doing that for a week right now, but if we love it, maybe we'll implement it two nights a week. The idea of adding more variety in a way that it just comes to my doorstep, and we don't really have to think about it, or go find that recipe, is genius for me. 

    I think the high school version is maybe the freezer meals more regularly, maybe doing a little bit more of the meal prep on the weekend. Just kind of getting your week off to a good start and doing some of the chopping, and things like that, on the weekend, so you don't spend that much time in the kitchen. Then really figuring out how to just add variety and excitement to it, you know what I mean? Because at the end of the day it should be a fun highlight, I want dinner to be a highlight of our day, because we're all together. It's finding things that do that. 

Rhonda:    Well you've mentioned now two ... it sounds like two subscription services. Do you recommend going with a subscription service for someone who is new?

Angie Trueblood:    No, not when you're new. I feel like when you're new, you need to kind of live in the energy of your family to figure out what it is you need. I'm actually not a big proponent of the meal plan subscriptions to where you get emailed a digital email plan, often they'll include a shopping list, and all the recipes for the week. I think they're good when you get to the point that you know you need to add variety, like you're just getting board whatever meals, and you need some new ideas, but week in and week out, to me that doesn't work. Because our schedules change. Our kids have activities, or my husband is working late, and so I don't want to pay for something that's just not going to work for our family. Definitely when you're staring, I feel like you should work with what is already working, add a little bit to it at a time, and kind of getting into a good groove, so you can see where the hiccups are. I had a client, she's a friend, a client, and we were talking, and she had subscribed to a meal plan service for a year, because it was just on autopilot. She's like, "Angie, I didn't even make the meals. It was just a low price and I just got charged it." I'm like, "You need to cut that off and then go ... "

Rhonda:    Right.

Angie Trueblood:    " ... [inaudible 00:23:34] exciting and call the meals that look good, and work that into your rotation," but none of us really need that. 

Rhonda:    Great.

Angie Trueblood:    Well some of us do. Some people, I'm sure, it probably works for some people, but as our kids get older, and more involved in stuff, it's a hard thing.

Rhonda:    I think your method of just kind of researching what's currently working for you, and then going to the sites, and getting meals, I mean that's going to save you time and money. Then again, we're not talking about a thousand ... I actually saw a Pinterest pin that had a thousand meals. That's just over the top, overwhelming, I can't do that. Even 50 or 100 seems overwhelming when you are sitting here have conversation and we're really 15, 20, 30 max. Think about that. That's a new meal once every day. I mean it's for the month, I mean who does that? I can't do that.

Angie Trueblood:    I have a couple of posts on my site about, and it's based on theme nights, because I feel like it takes a lot of the decision making out of it. It's twists on pasta night, ways to mix up taco night, other ideas for pizza, great ideas for grilling. I think the max is 12.

Rhonda:    Right. 

Angie Trueblood:    I don't think [inaudible 00:24:50] more than that. 

Rhonda:    I do want to make sure, let's go ahead and tell everybody your site so they can go to that.

Angie Trueblood:    Oh yeah, yeah, it's There is lots of blog posts. A lot are about the process of meal planning but then there are some that have ideas and recipes in there. Ones that have worked well for our family, and that help you kind of put some twists on those different theme nights at

Rhonda:    Right there on her homepage, when I was talking about her decluttering, her system for decluttering your recipes, and all of your Pinterest pins, and all of that. That is a great opt in. I have that opt in, so make sure that you pick that one up as well. All right?

Angie Trueblood:    Yes.

Rhonda:    Now, we're just going to put the cherry on top here, because I think that the crockpot is your right hand, and I love using my crockpot, but for my birthday, actually, my sister got me, and I know you got one for the holidays for Christmas, the Instapot. 

Angie Trueblood:    Woo hoo.

 In this episode I talk with Angie Trueblood, the mama behind and she reveals her tip to find the recipes your family will eat and how little time it takes to meal plan.  I am so excited and inspired because meal planning is the one thing that trips me up in my weekly schedule.  Be sure to grab the printable for planning and all Angie's resources!

Rhonda:    Okay, so that is one thing. It's funny, like you said, your friend who has had meal planning for a year but she's never used it, I see a lot of people get the Instapot and they never take it out of the box. Because for some reason or another, pressure cooking seems ... It's not anything that's new. I mean they've just, Instapot has just made it sexy. 

Angie Trueblood:    Totally. Not everything is the pressure cooker part of it, you know what I mean? There's the rice cooker, which I don't think that's ... I haven't taken mine out of the box either, but I did just get it like three days ago. 

Rhonda:    Okay.

Angie Trueblood:    I will tell you, so my approach to meal planning, like I think I've said, is all about simplifying. I just got it, I had a friend of mine, when I told her I didn't have one, she's like, "Angie, I feel like you're kind of a fraud that you don't have an Instapot, and like you're helping people meal plan," but I didn't need it. I had crockpot. I don't love crockpot meat, but sometimes it works in a pinch, but the handle on my crockpot finally broke. I was like, "I have to now." I asked for it for Christmas. Yeah, I'm excited to kind of dig in because from what I've heard, the texture of the meat is different than what it is in a crockpot. I'm hoping it's going to be amazing.

Rhonda:    Yeah, so last night ... You can use your Instapot as a crockpot, that's why you made that statement. I had been using my Instapot as a crockpot.

Angie Trueblood:    Right.

Rhonda:    That's how bad it is here. People are going to start sending food to my family. 

Angie Trueblood:    Which is a good thing.

Rhonda:    No, and so ... Okay, so last night what I did I took ... Now I want you to say ... Okay, so here is the myth that we're going to debunk right here, is that oh, my meal only took me 20 minutes. Okay, so you have to do the prep, right? You can even freeze it, but when you put everything in the Instapot, and you put 20 minutes on the Instapot, it has to reach a pressure to cook for 20 minutes. Then it has to depressurize for you to turn the lid. We're looking at longer than 20. You're probably looking ...

Angie Trueblood:    So how long does it take?

Rhonda:    Probably full cook time of 30 minutes.

Angie Trueblood:    Okay.

Rhonda:    But, that was also ... For example, what I did is I took potatoes, quartered, you put the water in, kosher salt, and you put them in the bottom. At the top, what I had, was the spring thing, I don't even know what it's called. It's the thing that you put in, right? With the pot, the spring pot, the spring pan.

Angie Trueblood:    Okay.

Rhonda:    It was frozen, so the meatloaf, the mixture I had put in there was frozen. Then I set it for 20 minutes. Now, I went shopping, came back, and dinner was done. You just opened it up, I pulled the meatloaf out, it was wonderful. The potatoes at the bottom, I put some heavy whipping cream, and butter, and a little bit more salt, it was like the best potatoes ... my children don't eat potatoes, and you're like, "How is that?" They loved it. They loved it. 

Angie Trueblood:    Okay.

Rhonda:    Then the meat, the meatloaf, again, it was one of those things. I'm like, "I don't know if it's going to work or not." They loved it. Yes. 

Angie Trueblood:    I cannot wait. 

Rhonda:    Yes.

Angie Trueblood:    Well you can definitely put some twists on that meal to make it, like I was thinking, you could even do almost salisbury steak, little salisbury steak patties. You could still have the potatoes, maybe if you had mashed them last night you could do them more whole, and you could do ... I don't know, I can't wait to dig into it. I'm wondering do the drippings from the meat, does it fall over the potatoes, or does it stay in one ...

Rhonda:    No, you ... I had, I wrapped it in Reynolds wrap, and then so those droppings don't drop down onto the potatoes. The potatoes are down there cooking, like they need to be, and they weren't mushy, they were good. Then I pull up the meatloaf with the thingy that goes in the Instapot, I pull it up, and then ...

Angie Trueblood:    We're just not professionals. 

Rhonda:    I mean you're the professional, I just ... I don't know. Then just put that on the table, and then did the mixture, and I of course put the potatoes in a bowl, or whatever, but I see where it's going to save you time with the Instapot. If you're doing a lot of freezer meals, pop them in there, and you're probably still looking at a 30 minute, versus a six hour in a crockpot, right? 

Angie Trueblood:    Yeah. However, this is one of the time categories. I encourage people ... When you're thinking of theme nights, it doesn't have to be around the type of cuisine, or the flavor, some people who have really varied schedules should make their theme nights by time. This is the list of my 15 minute meals, this is the list of ... I call them set it and forget it. You could bake a sheet pan meal, it might take 45 minutes, but you just put the whole thing in the oven, and you're done. Hands off. That's where the Instapot falls. The set it and forget it. You might need to do a little bit of prep work, but once it's cooking, you can be off helping the kids with homework, or tending to something else. I feel like that lends itself to one of those time categories.

Rhonda:    Right, and I think that as far as the Instapot goes, and I don't know what the fear is about pressure cooking. It's really the little vent in the back. Whatever the recipe is, they're going to give you instructions, and just make sure that vent is set correctly. Because once you put the lid on the Instapot, you hear the locking mechanism. It makes a sound and so you know you're good to go. Even last night, I sound like such a [inaudible 00:31:40] last night. I'm like, "Stand back, don't get near the Instapot." Stupid. Then even using something that will you with the venting, it can either do it naturally, or you can change the little vent at the top, and it releases the pressure. When it's done, then it's done, and you open it, and you hear ... it's like Mission Impossible. You hear it click open, and you take it off, and the meal is done. I just want people not to be under this misconception that, "Oh it's only going to take me 20 minutes for something that's frozen and I'm done." That's not necessarily the case. You got to pad in there some time. 

    I do see this, last night, even me, you're going to be fantastic fabulous. I'm coming to your house to eat. Because when you start using this it's going to be a game changer for you, I think. I just want to go over, one last time, and then we'll kind of end it with any last minute thoughts. You've really put down a lot of barriers for me. Before, I was thinking a couple hours for meal planning, we're looking at 15 minutes, one week at a time. Start with what is currently working, don't start with a blank slate. I want you to look at your calendar. Look at the time blocking that you've already been doing in your schedule, what is going to work for you. Start there and then build. 

    Ultimately, to get to high school, we're looking at 30 meals total. That could be over ... You could do that over a six month period of time. Just like what Angie was saying, she meal plans up through Thursday. It's okay to give yourself grace to pick up a pizza on the way home if you want to. You know? Have breakfast dinner, that's one of our most favorite things is breakfast dinner. 

 In this episode I talk with Angie Trueblood, the mama behind and she reveals her tip to find the recipes your family will eat and how little time it takes to meal plan.  I am so excited and inspired because meal planning is the one thing that trips me up in my weekly schedule.  Be sure to grab the printable for planning and all Angie's resources!

Angie Trueblood:    That's one of our themes. Yeah, so that's one of our weekly themes. We alternate that with a seafood night. What you were saying, I want people to understand you don't even have to be ... Because you said you're not a good cook. You don't even need to cook at home. That still doesn't take away the fact that you need to plan what you're having for dinner. That's all meal planning is. Even if you ate out every night of the week, how amazing would it be to know where you were going to go, and not have to have that discussion with someone else? The grocery stores now have so many different meals that are already seasoned, some are already cooked, to where work in some easy nights. Like you said Rhonda, give yourself some grace. 

    I don't want people to shy away from meal planning because they think they're not a good cook, or that they just don't have the time to do all of this, or that they get exhausted cooking by the end of the week. Work in methods that make your week flow easier. A leftover night, you know, so all of these things should be incorporated eventually, so that you don't burn out from it, because dinner is not going to stop being served. You got to eat. You might as well figure out a way it works for you. 

Rhonda:    You have to feed the children. 

Angie Trueblood:    Yes, yes. 

Rhonda:    You have to feed the children. Okay, so for all of this goodness you're going to want to go to Number one, you're going to download the decluttering exercise, I highly recommend that. Angie also offers a course, so I want you to take a look at that as well. Lots and lots of good stuff. I feel like my tripping point of meal planning, I'm going to crush it. 

Angie Trueblood:    Nice, cool.

Rhonda:    Yeah, yes, I feel empowered by it. I don't feel overwhelmed by it. I'm a systems, I'm a schedule girl, but I'm very intimidated. I'm very, very intimidated about meal planning.

Angie Trueblood:    Yeah, I get that. I get that. Yeah.

Rhonda:    Is there any just last minute tips, tricks, that you would like to add?

Angie Trueblood:    I mean the biggest is just give yourself some grace. Don't set the bar super high. I would go ahead and set some expectations, maybe it's that you're going to meal plan, and you're going to eat at home three nights a week, if you don't traditionally eat at home. Set some expectations and recognize that there are going to be nights where pizza is perfect. Just I like people to have their meal planning be as simple as it can be for their family. We don't need complicated, we just need to be able to get dinner on the table, and show up with the energy, and the ability, to connect with our family. That's why I meal plan, so that I don't show up at the table as a mess, that I can actually sit and have a conversation, and love on my people. 

Rhonda:    Right, well for us, we do a couple of things. One of the things that I love, and my husband actually started this, was what's your favorite part of the day? What was your favorite part of the day? I remember even when my 11 year old was like ... he couldn't even talk. He would just babble, and everybody would be like, "Yay." Now that [inaudible 00:36:35] we remember that. I love how you started off this whole conversation, it was just about being present with your family, getting your family around the table. 

Angie Trueblood:    Yeah.

Rhonda:    We also do this fun thing, would you rather? I know Pinterest has a ton of these. You can go on and as just silly questions. Would you rather do this or would you rather do this? This has a lot of great conversation starters at my table. My kids love doing this. We typically we do it on the weekend, but yeah, it's doing fun things. It's having conversations, it's talking about your day, it is those things that you're making memories, and feeding your family.

Angie Trueblood:    I know, two birds with one stone, right?

Rhonda:    Absolutely. Well thank you so much, Angie, for sharing all of your wisdom and helping us overcome the challenge of meal planning. 

Angie Trueblood:    You got this, you can do this.