Tip #5: Meal Planning
There are many ways to plan your meals. You can get inspiration from magazines, use an online meal planner (like emeals), or come up with your own combination of resources. When I was working full time outside of the house, I relied heavily on Emeals. I didn’t have the mental ability or time to be creative.
Now that I’m home most days, I keep a folder on my desktop called “Recipes” that is chock full of word documents of our favorite dishes and mix them with new recipes I find via blogs, allrecipes.com, and magazines (one of the most consistently fantastic being Martha Stewart Living). Since I love to cook and experiement in the kitchen, this is a fun way for me to plan for our meals.
It honestly doesn’t matter which way you chose to decide what you’re going to eat. What’s more important is sitting down once every two to four weeks and making a plan and a shopping list. This has helped us a lot and prevented us from eating out, by default, due to lack of planning most nights.
This is what I like to do: I sit down once every 2 weeks and plan out my meals. I like to display the meal choices in the kitchen, so my husband also knows what we’re eating for the week. (My husband and I have agreed a head of time that I’ll plan the meals and as long as each includes a protein, veggie, and starch, he won’t complain). Menu planning ahead of time is particularly useful for when we have family staying with us. I display it so that guests can get excited about what we’re going to be eating.
I’ve attached a sample menu that I use (see below).
An important thing to note is I put special events and work schedules (My husband and I work very different shifts) at the bottom of my menu. This helps me adjust what we’re going to have according to how much time we have and who is available to cook that night.
One of the best things about planning is the assurance that well balanced meals have been thought about and ingredients are in the house ahead of time. With all aspects of mothering, flexibility is essential. Just last night, we skipped the meal I planned and ordered pizza. We watched a few episodes of one of our favorite series, the Gilmore Girls, and had a nice romantic evening after Isaac went to sleep. It was just what we needed after Matthew coming off of a string of shifts.
After I’ve determined our menu, I add all items that we need from the store on a phone app (I will talk about this app on Monday).
What do you do? Any other suggestions on making meal planning easier?