There once was a day when I didn’t believe in meal planning. I would laugh in the face of the every day meal planner. Who needs meal plans? Going out to eat is so fun. Running to the grocery store just before dinner is no problem! Meal plans are for sissies.
Flash forward eight years and three kids later.
Confession: I need meal plans.
I was such a cute little newlywed wife.
Now more than ever, life is wild. I am balancing a full time career, mom life, dating my husband, household manager, and throw in a little side hustle and I just plain need the dang meal plan. It’s embarrassing to admit but, what the heck, I’m just gonna put it out there. I didn’t actually come to this realization until like February ….THERE! I said it. Yes it took me until going back to work with my third child driving home after a lonnnnnnng day feeling completely and utterly exhausted and annoyed to realize I need to plan these things called meals. On more than one occasion I have asked myself, “why do these people need to eat EVERY SINGLE DAY?”
You see, when I do not plan our weekly meals it seems as if everything goes awry. It’s as if the universe KNOWS I’m not on my A game and gets me right when I’m not looking. In our house, we have a very real and true emotion called hangry.
Hangry (adj): When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated, or both.
If there is not a plan for any given meal, one might become hangry. It’s not a very attractive emotion on a person, but hey, we are all human.
So here’s the part where I share my earth shattering program for meal planning. Haha no, I’m just going to share how we do it in our family so that everyone is on the same page.
1. Each week (usually on Sunday’s, but they are in no way, shape or form the best day to do this) I sit down and look at our schedule for the week.
I look at events we have going on in the coming week and create our meal plan around that. For example, if I know we have an after school event or meeting then I am going to plan a quick and easy dinner. Or if I know that we will be out and about, I will try to find a coupon to use at a local restaurant (this is becoming less of an option with a very stubborn 2 year old). I’ve learned quickly with three little ones to not overcomplicate meals. Like, they seriously are good with some cut up strawberries, grilled chicken, rice, and some steamed broccoli. Also…tacos. Always tacos. They are so easy and my family will always, without fail, eat tacos.
Side note: I will also try to plan what breakfast options we will have as well as snack and quick go to foods. Because…hangry.
Oh, AND: The menu for the week is not written in stone. I like to be able to swap stuff around if I get into a pinch. So when I assign meals to each night, its a loose designation.
This is also the time when Ry and I try to sync up our schedules. We take this time to get on the same page about who is dropping off and picking up the kids each day that week. We use iCal to keep all of our events on a calendar. We like it because we can invite each other to whatever is going on and then its on both of our calendars. I have used Cozi before but I think its just easier for us since that is where we go to log appointments, meetings, etc. Then I make sure everything is on our family calendar that is on the side of the fridge.
2. I inventory our fridge and pantry and add things to the list that we need for our meals.
This is where I love using the Walmart Grocery app. I can add stuff as I think of it and that way it doesn’t get forgotten. Plus, when I order my groceries online I save time, and I am much more intentional with what I pick. So most of my list is kept on the Walmart Grocery app, and other items that I may not want to get there I keep in a list using the Reminders app. We have a shared list that Ry and I can both add to.
The two items we use that I recommend are our Weekly Menu Pad ($5 – Amazon) and Family Calendar (this one is a bit more expensive $18 – Amazon, but the paper quality is great and it runs 18 months, plus it is 11×17 and I appreciate not having to write like a mouse to fit everything in).
My goal is to begin this whole process on like Thursday/Friday so the groceries can be ordered before the weekend then we aren’t stressed about getting that done on our days off.
And disclaimer: I have beg, borrowed, and stolen from friends for ideas for meal planning. It’s not my favorite thing to do, and I didn’t grow up eating a lot of home cooked meals so this is kind of a new world to me. If you have something that works well for your family, I would love to hear from you!