Quite frequently I get asked how do I do it all? Am I super human? Nope! Are you super human? If you are, please let me know the secret. Between raising kids, owning a business, homeschooling, working on our upcoming homestead, etc my weeks can seem quite busy. Due to how busy my life can get, some things slip through the cracks. Once upon a time, my biggest downfall was meal time. My kids would ask me what’s for lunch or dinner and I wouldn’t have an answer. It would be an hour before dinner and I would try to be putting a meal together. I knew as my kids got older, something would have to change. Where we live now, Instacart and food delivery doesn’t exist. There’s one food delivery restaurant around here and I can’t feed my kids pizza every night (I am sure they would disagree). I turned to monthly meal planning to be our saving grace and so far it has worked. On the last week of a month, I meal plan the whole entire next month meals. I write breakfast, lunch, and dinner and desserts down on my monthly calendar. To give an example, May, 2, 2022:
Breakfast: Cereal, Lunch: Homemade lunchables with fruit, Dinner: Grilled chicken with Broccoli and two sides.
On the side of my planner where it gives me the ability to list something, I have a giant list of sides to choose from. My sides usually consist of different ways to have potatoes, different vegetables I know my kids will eat, and a few speciality items that I change month to month. I don’t specify sides with my dinners since I like to choose the day of, but I already have all the side choices in my pantry or fridge.
I also add a twist to meal planning, I do not follow it religiously. I know going through all that work to plan out every meal for six people for a month takes a lot of time and energy. But, this is what I mean when I say I don’t follow the meal plan every day. What if May 2nd comes around and my kids would rather have spaghetti for lunch? I simply make them their lunch and go to my planner. I will take a light colored crayon and color on a different days lunch that said pasta. I do this with every meal, if we follow the day exactly it means that whole day is colored. If we don’t follow that day exactly, when I look back for a different meal idea than what I originally wrote; I will know that lunchables with fruit is still an option since all the ingredients are in the house. This prevents me from falling off track with meal planning. It is so easy to say on this day I want a complex meal, but three weeks later when that day comes the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
I also make sure I have all the ingredients to make every single meal I wrote down. After I am done writing my menu, I will see how many days in the month we are eating cereal or how many days do we need fish. I will than buy that specific amount (or extra if its on sale) and I only go grocery shopping one to two times a month. The first time I go grocery shopping, it is to grab every single ingredient we will need for that month. The second time I go grocery shopping, it is to grab any filler or speciality items if there is a holiday. This is the time I will restock up any fresh fruits, vegetables, or grab a dessert for fun. This method of meal planning has saved me time, stress, and money. I don’t have to think about what we are eating every single day last minute, there’s no urge to grab a pizza or fast food because I don’t know what to cook, and we buy all our groceries with intention. By the end of the month, our house looks sparse with options because we eat through everything before we go buy more. We try to minimize our waste since I hate throwing out food.
Do you meal plan? If you do, has it saved you time and money? If you don’t meal plan, how come?