Meal Planning 101

Oh my gosh, you guys!! I have always been a good cook. Sure, I’ve made some not so great dishes, but overall, I love being in the kitchen, one of my love languages is serving my cooked food, and I think I’m pretty darn good! However, I feel like a total flop in the kitchen lately.  STRUGGLE BUS. Call me silly, but I keep hearing this “still small voice” to get into the kitchen.  Get back in there, cook wholesome foods, involved my kids and be okay with that.  Yes, I sometimes feel like it’s Groundhog’s Day and I’m unloading the dishwasher for the 30th time this week, but I know my work here is important.

Since we’ve been “working ” more, I’ve come to realize how dang hard it is to get a good meal on the table. I am not in the mood to meal plan, because sometimes I feel like it’s a waste of time. Half of what I cook isn’t eaten or I don’t get to cooking it…but this has got to stop!  I figured if I just took the hour or so to research new meals, schedule it out and hold myself somewhat accountable, I may be better off.

I feel the madness in me from not being consistently in the kitchen.  So, today I sat down and made a “March Menu.”  Granted, it’s a little more than a week into it,  but I wrote down 6 meals for each week left in the month.  I thought I’d try it this way, as opposed to giving each meal a day.  I just came up with 6 meals; they can be interchanged with a lunch.  I chose only to do 6 because usually there are leftovers or a lazy day, where we’ll go out or eat sandwiches.

Tips:

1. Set Aside Time

The hardest part for me is time.  I only have so many hours in a day (as do we all) and selfishly, I don’t always love having to choose between meal planning & reading a book, blogging, or whatever…clearly I interwove blogging and planning into this one; winning!  I am hoping an hour of planning saves hours later of me trying to scramble and figure out what to feed my troops and eliminates the stress and worry that comes with it.  I used to do it every Sunday, but I’m going to try this new once a month tactic. I will report back to ya!  Some meal planning essentials: Wine & Green Tea.  I kid…I kid…

2. Print off Recipes

I literally printed off a few new recipes. (You see, that was one of my excuses. I’d “like” a recipe, or write it down but then really never get back to that site…) I love the internet but I’m such an old school, write-it-out kind of girl! I placed my 3 week menu, the printed sheets, and my week one grocery list on a clipboard.  I’m thinking I may just buy a new binder; that’s how I started. I would print off a favorite recipe and place it into a plastic sheet, and sorted them all in a binder.

3. Plan Meals out or cooked by someone other than you.

I know that I get burnt out in the kitchen, so that is another reason I only wrote 6 meals per week.  We love sushi takeout and Joe does love to grill. I just need to prepare and buy the food to be grilled! I’m excited that it’s getting warmer out…life gets easier when we aren’t hibernating. Look at the calendar and see what birthdays or holidays are coming up.  Can you get together with friends and host a potluck? You’ll not only be inspired by new foods, but you may find a recipe you and your family really love.

4. What you focus on increases.

Whenever I feel something is off balance, I will shift my focus on that subject. I am well aware that there is no such thing as “perfect” or even “balanced” but I feel like for the most part, I have a nice ebb and flow on things…and lately, there not enough love flowing in my kitchen! So, I’ve been trying to watch more you tube videos, putting on the Food Network in the background, and spending a few moments consciously pulling up recipes etc.  I strongly believe what we put out there, comes back to us. Plus, I always learn something from my favorites on Food Network!  Go dust off some of those cookbooks and show them some love.  I bet you’ll re-discover a family fave!  Please share with me, I’d love to know!

5.  Keep it Short and Simple (KISS)

Try to do a theme each week.  Maybe it’s Meatless Monday, or Taco Tuesday.  I chose to do “One Pot Pastas”.  I also went through my cupboards to see what spices I had etc. I love Tastefully Simple and I knew if I just took a few minutes to go through what I had, I would throw together a list in no time.  Don’t overcomplicate, don’t feel like you have to whip up lavish dinners, and who cares if it flops?! There’s always pizza, but at least you tried!

Totally pinched for time?  Stop in the store, pick up a whole rotisserie chicken, bagged salad and a fresh loaf of bread.  It’s better than going fast food and you still are making efforts.

I am nowhere near perfect, but I know if I put in a little more effort, it will be better.  I am waving the white flag and saying hey mama, I too serve Dino- nuggets and fish sticks like the best of them.  However, I know that if I can make a little effort, I’m opening my kids’ minds and doing my very best.  You betcha this kid friendly pasta meal is on the menu!

Oh, and have fun!! I know the days are long, but the years really are short!! Take a few minutes and throw together a little something special for your loved ones.  My kiddos go crazy for hot chocolate with marshmallows.  My husband also loves breakfast in bed; giving them yummy foods makes me feel good putting smiles on their faces. (Boxed muffins are a big deal to little and big kids!)

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