Picture this… You’re on your way home from work when you realize that you didn’t prep anything for dinner tonight. You have your daughter’s volleyball game to attend at 6:30pm, leaving you exactly 1 1/2 hours before you need to get the kids out the door to tonight’s event. Do you run the grocery store and pick something up to make? That sounds like a hassle and time will be too crunched. Do you even have anything at home to throw in the oven quickly? Likely, if you do that, we’ll end up having a meal of macaroni & cheese with peanut butter sandwiches. Nothing is thawed enough to make a quick meal. Do you run through the drive thru or order take out? Racking up the monthly bill of eating out to an amount that might require you to start shaving small amounts off of your children’s college fund you were planning on putting away.
Okay, that last part might be a little over dramatic. But, seriously. Does this sound familiar?
I swear once I had kids, my organization and OCD had to come out twice as much to avoid chaos and stress on a 24/7 schedule. My husband and I not only work full time jobs, but we always have side hustles we’re working on, which doesn’t leave much time in our day on top of kids’ and family activities.
Enter in meal planning. This became a requirement for the weekdays. It’s impossible for us to have any sanity if we don’t have this planned out in advance. I’ve gotten it down to a science that works for us. Are all of these steps necessary? Probably not. But, this works for us. Take a gander and if you see something you like, try it out.
First of all, Pinterest is my heavenly angel fallen from above. I can’t remember the last time I cracked open one of my cookbooks unless it was to look at a family recipe. I usually count on having 2 recipes that are tried and true and 1 recipe that is new or has a little twist. I only count on 3 dinners a week, as that leaves enough left overs for 1-2 nights and we almost always count on one night where one of us isn’t home.
Usually on Thursday or Friday I sit down and decide what I’d like for lunches, breakfast, and 3 dinners. The lunches and breakfasts are just for myself. My husband usually has lunch meetings for work and he handles breakfast on his own. The meals are generally planned around any produce we have lingering around from the week before, as well as any meat we have in the freezer. We typically buy our meat in bulk from one of the farms in town. I love the fact that it’s local, grass fed, and it’s not full of antibiotics.
After deciding the actual meals, I start my grocery list. I’ve started ordering online from Walmart and doing grocery pickup. If you haven’t done this already with Walmart or Hy-Vee (I know others in town do it as well), then you are seriously missing out. It’s a game changer! It’s saved us money, since I’m not throwing in extras I don’t need into my cart at the store and it’s saved us a ton of time. There’s always the staples to add like milk and bread. But, I’ve made it really easy on the recipes we know and love with these little cards. On the back of the cards I have included the list of ingredients that are needed for the recipe. This saves me the time of looking back through the recipe to ensure I have everything on my list. I usually don’t include the staples such as salt, butter, etc. on this list, since those are added when we get low or run out.
I then decide what days goes where and add it to our meal calendar. I bought a bulletin board from Hobby Lobby that I have in our hallway by the kitchen. This just saves the question, ‘Hey what’s for dinner tonight?’ from happening all of the time. It also allows my husband to pitch in when I’ll be late or have something going on. I’ll always just text him the recipe ahead of time, if needed.
The cards were just ordered off of Amazon, super cheap. You can find them here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N57VOOE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I’ve also thought about printing the recipes out and having a binder available in the kitchen tabbed with which days we’re having which. My husband gets so irritated having to read through the entire blog article in order to get to the recipes. But, I just hate wasting paper.
So, there you have it. Meal planning 101, Amber’s version. Have anything that works for you? Let me know!