Tuesday, October 4, 2016

When life gets crazy: Start meal planning

Mom2MomEd Blog: When life gets crazy...start meal planning
Life has been throwing me (Malea too) for one loop after another, and when things get chaotic the only thing that helps me is to get organized.

I’ve been purging extra clutter in my home, trying to finish loooong unfinished projects, and just being more mindful about how I am spending my time, energy, and money. Some of these projects have been successful while others have left me pulling my hair out and rocking in a corner.


But, one thing that has always been important to me is food--and not just because it’s life sustaining! For so many of us, food is comforting, tastes good, and is fun to prepare.

I love to cook.
I also love to grocery shop.
I used to be really good at meal planning, budgeting, and keeping the items in our freezer rotated.

But lately…..it’s been a disaster.

One random trip for ONLY bananas may turn into a 100 dollar splurge on who knows what!

Lately, I’m cooking based on cravings which means even more random and EXPENSIVE runs to the store and wasting a ton of food. Wasting food is a huge pet peeve of mine. Not so much if my kids don’t eat what is on their plates, but rather having prepared food go bad in the fridge or letting fruits and veggies just rot away.

Yet, for the last couple of days, our fridge has been looking bare. I’ve purposely let it get that way so that we could use up the last of the random items in there and so I could start fresh with a large grocery haul.

Last night I sat down with my laptop and made a grocery list and a meal plan for the week.

I got up this morning and drove to three separate stores and was able to stock our fridge completely. This haul should last our family of four just over a week. I was so focused this morning that I didn’t even stop for coffee which is HUGE for me!

Seriously, Malea and I both are major coffee addicts. Caffeine might run in our veins instead of blood... {Malea commenting here: No coffeeeeee before the grocery store? McKenzie has lost her mind! I would never!}

Another thing that I struggle with is coming up with new meal ideas that everyone in our family will eat.

My daughter and I are the least picky in the house. However, my son and husband can be difficult to cook for (my husband is the pickiest in the house even though he will tell you otherwise!). I often get stuck in what I call the dinner rut. We have a few go to meals that everyone likes, so I end up preparing them over and over again. In theory, that sounds great, but inevitably everyone gets burned out on this small stable of meals, and then we’re pretty much back to basics with cold cereal and toast.

It’s a cycle I'd like to end.

So, I thought I’d share some of the meals I’ve planned for this week with the hopes that it may inspire some of you! 

I’m also shamelessly begging you to share your tried and true family friendly recipes so that I can add them to my rotation as well.

This week, some of our meals include: 

  • shrimp tacos with black beans (we had these tonight and everyone gave them a thumbs up)
  • flank steak and homemade potato wedges
  • chicken drumsticks and corn on the cob
  • Swedish meatballs and rice
  • homemade pizzas
  • and, a leftovers night.

These meals are not overly fancy, don’t take much time to prepare, and are all things that my kids (and husband) will eat...hopefully!

Since I’ve been in a cooking rut lately, I didn’t throw in any of our standby meals because we all really needed a break from them. However, some of our favorite typical meals are: stir fry (chicken and veggies) with white rice, tacos or deconstructed tacos (eaten with chips), salad bar, spaghetti, and BBQ chicken.

Do you feel like you end up preparing the same meals over and over? How do you break up the monotony? Do you tend to do one larger grocery trip for the week or stop several times for fewer items?

We would love your tips and tricks for meal planning and recipes. I’m experiencing a new challenge this year with planning for school lunches and finding things that pack well, that my son will eat, and that are semi portable.

Oh, and meals that won't elicit negative comments from my son's fellow kindergartners... 

Last week, my son asked for seaweed, berries, and naan bread in his lunch. I know he likes those foods, but I struggle with feeling like he’s going to be the kid with “that” lunch. That discussion will be a blog post for another day. {Malea commenting again: My son became the kid with "that" lunch thanks in part to his preferences and in part to food allergies! I'll have a whole lot to say when we have that discussion on the blog!}

In the meantime, share your meals with us. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Be sure to check out these blog posts:
Make your meal planning easier with this set of 5 weekly meal planning worksheets from our Etsy shop:

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