I guess that’s how many weeks I have left if I live to be one hundred. Kind of a depressing thought… anyways.
Meal planning has always been something I’ve always known would really help our family, but we’ve never actually done it. Now that I’m on maternity leave and in charge of dinners, I decided it was time to start. It needed to happen for various reasons: a family can only eat so many chicken fingers, Kent calling every afternoon to ask what’s for dinner and not really having an answer for him, going to the grocery store and buying random stuff without a plan in mind feels kind of ridiculous… and so on and so forth. You know how it is, I’m sure.
So last weekend I did it: I made a plan for the week and a grocery list. And honestly, it only took about fifteen minutes.
Turns out grocery shopping with a list feels awesome. Mostly because I always envy the people I see using lists: “How can they be so organized? It must be so nice to be buying things for an actual purpose instead of just putting various ingredients in the cart and hoping for the best.” Now I got to be that mom! A happy boy in the cart, an adorable girl fast asleep in the Ergo, and a checklist. I felt like supermom.
This is pretty much how the week went:
I made Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken over rice with Naan bread while the kids napped. It was so good that Kent keeps asking for the recipe (which I haven’t sent him yet… click on that link, Kent.) He is a chef, so that’s obviously a huge win. “Aren’t you excited for the rest of your life and all of the meal plans ahead of you?” I asked. “You made a good dinner on your first Monday. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves…” he answered. I guess so.
I got everything ready for Acorn Squash Soup while the kids napped, then my dad called to say that they were harvesting corn and Casey could come for a combine ride. I didn’t even think twice about leaving my dinner prep on the counter and waking both kids up. It was worth it, Casey loved the combine. We ate dinner at the farm and I called Kent to tell him to have leftovers from yesterday. His prophecy was coming true.
I finished the soup in the morning and Casey and I had it for lunch. He didn’t like it. “You can have mine,” he said. I didn’t like it either. It probably wasn’t the recipe’s fault, as I realized while I was making it that I was missing carrots which were probably a pretty key ingredient. I didn’t use coconut milk or ginger either. I probably made other mistakes too – soup isn’t my forte, although I want it to be. I thought about getting Kent to salvage it but in the name of full disclosure: I ended up throwing it out before he even tried it.
For dinner I made Crockpot Ravioli Casserole. I’m trying to learn how to make more crockpot meals, but Kent told me that pasta really shouldn’t be cooked in the slow cooker so I just used to oven. It was good; nothing too special, but Casey loves pasta so he was happy – and anything that can get him to eat spinach is a win.
After Casey’s nap he helped me make Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup. I knew he loves to help with anything and everything, but I still couldn’t believe exactly how happy this made him – he kept saying things like, “You’re so nice to me, mom!” and “You’re a good mom!” and hugging me. It was the best.
As for the recipe, it kind of felt like cheating because it was just adding a few things to chicken broth. So it wasn’t the healthiest soup I could have made, but it was easy and it was good.
I had planned for us to make pizza, but we still had leftover soup and pasta, and Kent brought home leftover Mexican Rice that his students had made. We definitely did not need any more food! A good problem to have. We ended up making calzones on Saturday instead. I don’t meal plan for the weekend since Kent usually tries out recipes that he wants his students to make on the weekends.
I would say that meal planning was a huge success! I thought that having to cook actual meals would be stressful since I have a fairly high-needs two month old baby, but it actually made my life so much easier because I could get everything ready while both kids napped. It took way less time and energy than stressing at the last minute about what I could possibly make.
I also realized that I don’t actually have to make something every day. Since we’re a small family, there are always leftovers, and we’re more than happy to eat leftovers. This was a nice revelation. In the future I also need to plan out my ingredients a little better so that they overlap and I don’t need to buy as much. Less meat would also help the grocery store bill. Although I can’t help it – I grew up on a pig farm. I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl. So scratch that – taking pork from my parents freezer would help the grocery store bill. ;)
Week two is off to a good start too!
Question for you: Do you meal plan and if so, what are your tips? If not, why not?