The life of mom is one of constantly shifting and constantly searching. Every time mama settles into her “new normal” there is a change in the life of your little one and it’s time to figure things out all over again…
From the beginning I have been searching for solutions to make the day to day easier. Even before starting a business, the struggle to keep the chaos of raising littles from drowning me in dishes and laundry was legit. Eight years in, I still don’t have all the answers and, just like those early days when nap times shifted week to week, I am still constantly revising my systems to make things happen.
One thing that I fought hard core but has made life so much simpler is meal planning. I’ve always been more of a “what am I in the mood to eat” spur of the moment type chef but the busier life has gotten over the years, the more that resulted in too many trip through the drive thru & delivery options saved in my favorite numbers list… I knew that I simply could not teach my kids healthy eating habits like that…
My planning system happened organically and evolved over time. What started out as more of an idea that I’d cook three nights and have the ingredients for these three meals on hand evolved into a Monday morning ritual of true systematic planning.
STEP ONE: What does the week look like?
So what do I do? Well, first I sit down with my beloved Erin Condren planner. I list every after school activity on each day. I check that all my sessions and business related events are listed. I open up the school emails with important reminders and dates for the week and list those. I double check my husband’s work commitments such as travels and dinners. I get it all in front of my in one spread… And this is usually about the time I take a deep breath and remind myself all the reasons we do all the things we do and how much we enjoy it all because, hot dang, that page quickly becomes overwhelming.
STEP TWO: How much time do I have?
Once I have regained my mental clarity, I assess how much time I have in each day to prep food and cook and WHEN I have the time to do… the “when” part might be the secret to success… do I have time in the evening to cook? early in the day? little windows of time split up through out the day?
STEP THREE: What’s cooking?
After I have a clear idea of how much time I can realistically spend getting dinner on the table each day, I list out what will be for dinner on my planner for each day…
Some evenings I have an hour and a half gap that I can prep and cook all then… Those are nights for trying a new dish or a meal with multiple courses. I’ll be honest, they happen more on the weekends than school nights.
Some days I have half and hour in the evening to get dinner on the table but another half an hour early in the day to prep… Those nights I chop veggies and marinate meat early. Maybe stir fry fajitas or enchiladas or something similar that I can cook in under 15 minutes if everything is ready to go.
And some I have a good big chunk of time early in the day while kids are at school but need to serve dinner quickly in a short window in the evening… Those might actually be my favorite nights. This is when I will make butternut squash soup, chili, chicken tortilla soup or something similar that I can do all the leg work early and then let simmer for the day… and man does it make the house smell amazing.
And those days that I say it just won’t happen, it will be a Chick-Fil-A or Pink’s Pizza night! No shame. No guilt.
From there I can make my grocery list for the week…
STEP FOUR: What do we need?
And since I have the benefit of living in a city which Instacart serves, let’s be real, that list goes right into the app… search, add to cart, repeat. My favorite aspect of ordering groceries this way is that I can open the pantry and see what I have already and what I need. Once the dinners are in the cart, I scroll back through my recent purchase lists and restock on items I need to pack lunches and staples like milk & eggs… once I hit order I usually momentarily bask in the glory of not having to fight the grocery store chaos and wonder how my mother and grandmothers did it before technology was on their side…
STEP FIVE: Success!
Seriously, it’s that simple. I won’t say easy because, come on, in mom life rarely is anything easy… but I can usually do all this in about 15 minutes before anyone else in the house is awake. I have a clear plan in mind and can know that everyone will be eating healthy for the week. And what’s best, by doing this and having a clear picture of what we will eat when, I am able to keep our food budget under control and not end up with a bunch of waste. Pinterest-mom meets Amazon Prime-mom perfection. 😉