Hey Y’all! So I am going to really start dedicating more time to the blog and get it going again. I have let it slide and I feel like I need to get back at it. I am going to try and set certain days for specific topics and see how that goes.
To start off I wanted to do “Meal Plan Mondays”! I could not make it without meal plans. I really have no idea how people, especially with families, don’t meal plan. I would go crazy. So for this week I am going to share with you how I plan my menu and shopping list and some tips to make it work.
Each week I plan for 7 dinners (or lunches depending on what shift my husband is working) since most of the time we have leftovers for the third meal. I don’t normally plan anything other than sandwiches or salads for when we don’t have leftovers. I hate wasting food so making sure we use up everything is important. That is if we have left overs. As the kids get older our amount of food ate at a time is also growing. But sometimes we cook a ton of something and I know we will get tired of it before it’s all used so I freeze serving sizes in ziplock bags to eat later.
To start out I always check what food we already have and if I can work that into what we are going to have for the next week. For example, I have instant brown rice, black beans, and taco seasoning so I will do my SW Chicken because I will only need chicken and Rotel. Work with what you have and it will make shopping and planning easier, as well as cheaper!
I rotate chicken meals and non chicken meals. My husband could eat chicken everyday, but I need breaks so this way works for us. I will normally do a fish, ground turkey, and sometimes some type of beef or pork. I always try and keep it as healthy as I can so red meat gets left out most of the time.
I get larger trays of chicken and ground turkey and divide into serving size bags to freeze and the day before I need it I just pull it out of the freezer and it’s ready to go. If you forget you can always drop the bags into a bowl of hot water to thaw.
I also try to have veggies at every meal (even if they are chopped up and hidden!). It doesn’t happen every time, but I do my best. Sometimes it’s easier said than done with a toddler that can spot an onion in a plate full of noodles, but it can be done.
Keeping fruit is a must in our house. I am super picky on what I give my kids so fruit is their sweets and guess what? They don’t mind one bit! They love fruit and we go through a lot and I’m happy to give it to them. I normally always have fresh apples, watermelon, bananas, cantaloupe, grapes, mangos, and pineapple when they are in season. It’s a bit of work to cut everything, but so much better. I normally just cut it all at once so it’s only one mess to clean up afterwards and store in containers so it’s easy to pull out and serve.
When I am planning I will have Pinterest pulled up or my cook book (all my favorite meals that have been passed down to me or we have found online and love) and get our main item for each meal and then fill in as needed. For example, I found an amazing and easy Alfredo Sauce recipe that can be used so many ways. I will do a shrimp alfredo over pasta or stuffed shells with chicken alfredo. But I also have super easy days that we have sauteed chicken, mac and cheese, and green beans. It doesn’t have to be a fancy meal every day. You just need something planned so you’re not standing in your kitchen at 6 pm with no idea what you’re going to fix.
I also would go crazy if I didn’t have a crock pot. When I was working it was a must. Now that I stay at home with the kids it keeps me sane. As much as I enjoy cooking (and I really do most of the time) I don’t want to spend an hour or more cooking every day. So if you can use a crock pot do yourself a favor and plan as many meals as you can with it. Tip: Find crockpot bags! They are liners you put in first so you don’t even have to wash the pot! I hate washing them so this is a life saver. They are normally with the plastic storeage bags in packs of 3 or 4 for like $3 or $4. WORTH EVERY CENT!
I hope this helps you at least give meal planning a try. I truly could not go without doing it!
If you have any questions please let me know!