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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Can't Remember Life Before Meal Planning

When we had our first child it did not take long for my dear husband, Keith and I to realize that my becoming a stay at home Mom by day and taking on part time work was the choice for us. We knew spending as much time watching and learning with this little person we created was very important to us.

Along with baby came a new need for additional organization. I have always prided myself on being very organized. I am a multi-tasker by nature and actually thrive on it, I love it. I work best under pressure, and produce the most when LOTS needs done.

Baby brought the LOTS and I brought innovation to my household. I despised 4:00pm when I had to try and figure out what the heck to make for dinner. When I gave up my full time position at a direct mail magazine I wanted to be that wife/mom that had dinner on the table when hubs arrived home from work at 5:30. I know, I know maybe there are yucky feelings about that for some. Those feelings are for you, not me. I wanted to be tattooed June Cleaver so meh, my choice. And I do not in any way EVER regret it. Ever. I wear a very cute apron too.

So 4:00 irritation, innovation needed. I wanted to plan meals. Not the same plan every week for Goodness sakes. I wanted to keep it rad. Original plan was to try to make one new recipe a week, that was dropped to one bi weekly. Now I just do, if I want to.

my meal plan process is simple:

Every other Monday I grab my wall calendar, a pen and the sale flyer. I write a meal on each day of the week and all the ingredients I need for those meals on my list checking to make sure I don't already have what I need. When two calendar weeks are full I am finished.

So why do I do it?
Stress relief:
I mentioned 4:00. I spend about half an hour meal planning two weeks worth and that's all the time I worry about it for those two weeks! Huge stress reliever. note: My husband plans the weekends, so it could take 45 min to an hour to do a bi-weekly plan. And he is a much better cook than I. He is much more outgoing in the kitchen. I tend to gravitate to easy meals, that are quick to prepare. In all fairness though, during the week I have serious time constraints.

Money saving:
seriously folks this will save you money. Grab your grocery store flyer, or look it up online and meal plan according to what is on sale. I clip coupons, or print them online, just choose a site that you can print multiple coupons per page or you will lose your savings in printer cartridges. Breakfast for dinner once a month saves dollars, and kids LOVE it. Making triple batches of things like taco meat, spaghetti sauce (yea I make my own for some meals) and freeze in bags. Invest in a chest freezer. That way when ice cream is on sale you can buy the 4 for $10 and fit them in your freezer.

Planning meals assists in looking at your dinners at a distance. You can balance much easier the things your family needs to stay healthiest. For instance I plan one vegetarian a week (at least) I balance meats, like one chicken meal, one turkey (burger), we usually avoid red meat but you could throw that in, you get the idea. You can look at your week and see, whoa, we can't eat pasta every day?! and change it. Meal planning also helps to avoid the dreadful fast food stop, or the expensive restaurant take out that could occur on a particularly irritating day when you are absolutely NOT in the mood to figure out what to make for dinner. Hey, this also saves money too!

Listen to this great podcast about meal planning for more great tips

Another great resource is the Organizing Junkie blog. Menu Plan Mondays are popular in the blogosphere. Apparently you can link your meals and plans with other meal planner/bloggers. I have yet to do this, have still continued to kick it old skool- paper/pen/sales flyer but would love to check these out. If you do I'd love to hear how you like it!


Brandy said...

These meals look delicous. I am also trying one new meal a week because I have been in a rut and am finding some wonderful different meals out there.

Jen said...

thank you! The fish tacos are the best. I may have to post that recipe soon:)

Derya said...

Mmmm this is a great idea and a tip! I enjoy cooking sometimes but mostly find myself either lazy or out of time for it. Then we end up eating unhealthy and spending more money on food. It is just me and my husband, we don't have kids yet! I don't know what I'm gonna do when I have kids! lol need to get back on healthy eating asap!

Jen said...

Thanks for commenting:) Eating healthier made me feel so much better mentally. I look back to my Mt. Dew + "vegetable-free" days I was such a grumpy puss-hee hee. that sugar puts my system on a serious roller coaster!