So I had a really good Roasted Chicken recipe all lined up for my first post of the week. But I was inspired to write this one instead. Don’t worry…the chicken recipe is coming soon!
Sunday was a beautiful fall day. I had the windows open, with an amazing breeze. I poured the last cup of coffee from the morning’s pot. And the kids were BOTH sleeping! These types of moments don’t happen in my house very often.
And what did I do? I wrote out my meal plan for the week.
I have been SUPER bad about doing my meal planning lately. And my mornings and bank account have been feeling the pain because of it. A meal plan is how my family can truly afford to eat organic. Sure, we can get by with out it. But when you eat organic, on a budget, you have to make most of your food from scratch.
I’m a full time working mom, with 2 small kids. Finding time to make food from scratch is extremely difficult. Plus, I’m a procrastinator. So I’m usually running around, like a crazy woman, trying to get everything prepared.
30 minutes to make a meal plan, and this procrastinator can actually get dinners and lunches made with out pulling my hair out!
There are a TON of meal planning printables out there. And maybe I’ll type mine out someday. But honestly, all you need is a blank piece of paper.
Across the top, write the following:
AM: These are the things you need to do in the morning, before you leave for the day.
L: This is what you’re sending for lunches
D: This is what you’re making for dinner
PM: This is what you need to get done in the evening to prep for the next day.
Down the left side, list each day of the week.
Now, start adding meals. Take into consideration whether or not you can use leftovers for lunches. For example, Sunday’s dinner included quinoa and we always have left overs. So I’m sending some with our lunches on Monday.
Next, start thinking of a few things that you can do to make cooking dinner or assembling lunches easier. These can go in your AM/PM prep. Sunday I do as much prep work as I can and then I try to limit each week night to 3 items. And I never prep on Friday nights. Friday is my lazy day. (PB&J for lunches and Hot Dogs, Mac N Cheese
, and a frozen veggie for dinner)
Let me run you through a typical day. Monday we are having an Apple and Cheddar grilled sandwich, quinoa, and peas for lunch and pizza for dinner. On Sunday night I did my PM prep. I cooked the peas and assembled the sandwiches for lunch. I also cut the veggies and browned the meat for the pizza. All this took about 30 minutes. I can plan to double my time, if I’m doing it with a hungry child crying at my feet. For my AM prep, I’m going to grill my sandwiches first thing. That way they can cool before I pack them. I’m also going to take out my frozen pizza dough. It needs to sit out all day to rise, so if I pull it out in the AM, it will be good to go at dinner time. My total AM prep is about 5 minutes. When I get home, all I have to do is assemble my pizza and pop it in the oven. I even let the kiddos help!
Finally, if doing 5 of the same thing only adds 5 minutes, I do it. On Thursday night, I’m going to measure out my Mac N Cheese
for Friday night. I can easily measure out several “boxes”. So I’ll probably make a month’s worth.
Ideally, you would make this chart before you go to the grocery store. Then you can create your list as you go. I didn’t do that this week. So next week will be my monthly, avoid the grocery store week. This is the one week every month that I try to use up as much food as I can without buying more. The only thing I let myself buy is milk and produce. This week pads my budget and also cleans out my freezer for the next batch of prepped food.
Doing the meal plan give me time to enjoy my kids. Since I work full time, my time with them is too precious to spend it slaving away in the kitchen. And this weekend, we turned Little Miss’ crib into a toddler bed. And if I was always in the kitchen, I wouldn’t have been able to annoy her by taking a million pictures of her milestone.
So what do you do to keep from going crazy in the kitchen? Do your tricks help you save some cash? I want to hear about them!
Update: We’ve turned this into a printable! Check out how to get it for free!
I need to start the PM notes… I could use some more sanity in the mornings!