I am a planner. I love lists. I love knowing how things are going to work and what is going to happen. And, luckily, I used to have a strong memory for my plans. However, after pregnancy, that luck ran out. I used to be able to do meal planning in my head and know exactly what I was doing for the week. Now, I’m lucky if I remember what I have planned for today.
So, I started making meal plans — I write them out so I know my grocery shopping needs, I now know my plans for the week, and I don’t stumble through the kitchen come dinner time wishing I had a plan.
It has also been very helpful to my son because he struggles with anxiety and always wants to know what the plan is. He would bug me over and over again about what was for dinner.
Now, it is written out on our fridge for him to read. He doesn’t have to ask, he doesn’t have to feel anxious, AND he can actually get excited about some dinners coming up that are his favorites.
Sit down and look at what will happen this week. If you know that you have more than enough time for a 60 minute meal on Wednesday then save your big recipe for that day. If you know that you have about 5 minutes to make dinner on Thursday and the kids have 15 minutes to eat it before you guys are running out the door for activities then make that a Sandwich Night, or do your favorite crockpot meal that morning so it is ready and waiting at dinner-time.
Some people plan out their whole month of meals. But, I feel that week-to-week is easier when you’re first getting started.
Baby steps, Mama. You got this.
Have themed days:
My kids LOVE Taco Tuesdays. It makes my meal planning easier and gets them excited for dinner. And it’s something you can still mix up! You can make beef, chicken or steak tacos. You can have taco pizza. You can make fajitas. Or even taco pasta!!
Fridays are (sometimes) Fish Fridays in our home and my husband is the cause of that. It’s an easy night for me because I buy frozen fish fillets or sticks from Wegmans.
Other suggestions you can find for theme days are Meatless Mondays, Pizza & Movie Fridays, Soup and Sandwich Saturday/Sunday.
Put it up/out:
Get yourself a markerboard or chalk board or whatever suits your fancy for showing your family(and reminding yourself) what is for dinner for the week. Your kiddos who can read will get to know what they are having. It will spark their excitement and may even get them involved in dinner. My kids love to ask to help me cook dinner. Especially when they know it’s something they CAN help with.
Shop for what you need:
I know I can’t be the only one who goes grocery shopping thinking I’ll get what I need only to come home and find out that dinner is missing key ingredients. Meal planning helps with your grocery shopping!!
If you meal plan FIRST, you can build your grocery list around the plan. You can check your cupboards for what you already have. You can write down what you need and then go get exactly what you need. You’ll save yourself money and a huge headache. Trust me.
Use your schedule:
Check ahead when you make your meal plan. If you know that you are going to an event on Thursday night that is going to feed your family then you are off the hook that night. Woo-hoo!! If you know that your kids won’t be home one night and it’s going to be just you and your significant other… Treat yourselves! Have a nice dinner of your favorite food that you don’t have to share with the kids.
Meal planning saved my sanity. I was lost without it and I hope that you will be saved by it, too.