Inside: If you’re tired of the dinnertime chaos and are looking for a meal planning course to just tell you what to do, read this post to learn the 3 things you should look for.

5 year old boy with a goofy surprised face trying to fit a giant zucchini into a pot. | meal planning course

With a crying kid strapped to your leg, you groggily look at the clock. 6:38 p.m. Ugh.

It’s less than an hour until the kids’ bedtime and you still don’t know what’s for dinner.

If you’re familiar with the dinnertime chaos of rushing around trying to MacGuyver a dinner with whatever you can find at the back of the pantry…you’re not alone.

Meal prep and meal planning is a struggle for many of us, especially if we’re busy with kids or a demanding job (or both).

In this post, you’ll learn the 3 things you should look for in a meal planning course.

3 Things to Look for in a Meal Planning Course

#1: Do You Want Done for You or DIY?

There are a ton of free meal planning resources you can use to put together a meal plan. Here’s the general idea of whether you should expect to pay for a meal planning course, or get it for free.

If you’re looking to do it yourself, by all means, you can probably do it for free. Go ahead and grab my free meal planning template at the bottom of this post, then head on to Pinterest or into your favorite cookbook to start gathering recipes.

Free can be great. I get it. We scrimped and saved every single penny to pay off our mortgage and become completely debt free.

But if you want someone to tell you step by step how to put a meal plan together, you can expect to pay a small fee for that.

My mother-in-law has a saying that you either have time or you have money. Only you can determine whether you value time or money more.

When we in the thick of paying down our mortgage, we threw every extra penny at it and eagerly sought out ways to spend less money. I get it.

If you go the free route, you can easily get sucked into spending hours on Pinterest, saving hundreds of recipes.

On the other hand, you might value time over money. You are more than willing to spend money if it saves you hours of time and heartache. You’re also willing to spend money to make sure you do it right the first time.

Mom and 9 year old daughter smiling and smilling cherry tomatoes while they chop vegetables. | meal planning course

#2: How Much Time You Want to Spend Cooking

Some people love spending an hour in the kitchen every evening, crafting together culinary creations with a dash of this and a sprinkle of that.

One of my good friends falls into this camp. When her husband comes home from work, he spends time with the kids while my friend retreats to the kitchen to make dinner.

When I explained my horror at the thought of spending an hour cooking after a long day of raising young kids, she explained “Oh no, it’s my relaxation.”

She loves chopping and prepping and cooking healthy meals for her family. It’s something she looks forward to.

On the other hand, I’m a get in, get out kind of person. It’s my nightmare to spend an hour in the kitchen every night.

In our house, we batch cook a lot of our food on the weekend and eat leftovers all week. We’ll add in a salad here or a cooked veggie there to add variety.

How much time do you want to spend cooking? This is something to consider when you’re looking to purchase a meal planning course. How much time does the course estimate it’ll take you every night?

You wouldn’t want to purchase a meal planning course with recipes that take an hour to make every night if you hate cooking or have a busy lifestyle.

#3: Rigid or Flexible?

There are two types of meal planning courses. The first is a rigid, hold your hand and tell you exactly what to do type of course. 

Rigid “Cook This” Meal Planning Course

This type of meal planning course is often developed by a chef or food blogger who loves to cook. They gather a bunch of their recipes and put them together to create a meal planning course.

The pro of this is that you have an exact blueprint to follow and don’t have to spend too much time thinking about it. This type of meal planning course can be immensely helpful if you’re starting a specific diet, like keto, paleo or vegetarian.

The problem with a rigid meal planning course is that you can easily get bored with it. Why? Because you didn’t pick the recipes and they might not be ones you (or your kids) love.

Flexible “You Pick What to Cook” Meal Planning Course

The second type of meal planning course is one that teaches you the system, but lets you decide the exact recipes to go in it.

That’s what my course Savvy Suppers does. I’m not a foodie, and honestly my life is too busy to allow for leisurely cooking sessions.

In Savvy Suppers, I teach you the exact system I use to cut the dinnertime chaos. I use a meal planning schedule as a way to spend less time cooking, not more.

3 year old daughter sitting on kitchen counter while her mom bends over and smiles at her. | meal planning course

You see, I had heard about meal planning for years and years and always immediately pooh-poohed it. 

It was for those moms: you know the ones…the drill sergeant moms with perfect makeup and well-behaved kids who always eat their veggies.

I didn’t want to be a drill sergeant mom.

And so I set out to create Savvy Suppers, a meal planning system that decreases the dinnertime chaos, while giving you more time to spend on the things you love, you know…like taking a nap on a calm afternoon.

This is really the simplest form of meal planning I’ve ever seen. 

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