Ever since getting married I’ve struggled realizing I have no idea how to feed myself and my husband. Now that I have children I have felt even less capable of keeping my meal planning in order. However, there are a few practices that help me stay mostly prepared.
I want explain my history and why I don’t feel like the bees knees when it comes to meal planning.. Growing up I studied dance and music and put a lot of time into school and my talents. This is not to say that my family didn’t discuss good eating habits. Or that my siblings and I never helped prepare meals. But there wasn’t much in planning and grocery shopping for the meals.
When I got married I did pretty well for a while in planning dinners and discovering new recipes. Unfortunately after getting pregnant my usefulness declined when I became more and more sick. I had aversions to pretty much everything, which was SO frustrating, because I was hungry all of the time. Following giving birth my husband and I moved states and I never really got my meal planning under control.
Fast forward to today, and I’m still not great about planning. However, I’ve figured out a few good tricks to keeping myself responsible for our family and our diet. This is not to say that it is always “mom’s job” to be in charge of the meals and the healthy habits of the family, but especially when you’re the one sticking around the house, it can be a lot easier to keep things under control.
This isn’t really a trick, but for me it makes a huge difference. If I know I need to plan my dinner around chicken, then I know generally what types of meals I am prepared and willing to make. This means I tend to keep frozen chicken, frozen fish, and ground meats on hand for variety in our meals.
When it comes to lunch, plan on lunch meats or salads with pre-cooked meats. I’m also fond of a good canned tuna or chicken mixed with mayo.
I find it easiest to plan 3 easy breakfasts and repeating them. This means I’ll have a one smoothies, some egg-based grits, and a sunny-side-up egg and avocado planned for the week. Weekends are a little more open to some fun and fancy recipes for your family.
This is an actual calendar pasted onto my fridge. Each meal is in a different color and I try to at least get down my dinner meals at the beginning of the month, then fill in the lunch and breakfast schedule every week.
This has been a game changer because every week I just check our meals and compare them to the food in our kitchen, then make up our own little grocery list. If I know we have random ingredients from meals then those ingredients can be used towards breakfasts and lunches over the course of the following week.
Make sure to always plan in leftover meals so that food isn’t left to go bad in your fridge. Often we underestimate how much food we are making, then have a plethora of leftovers that get tossed to the trash.
Makes a difference to have this. This is also posted right next to my calendar on the fridge and probably gets more attention than any other item in our home. Some people use their smart home technology (like Alexa) to keep track of their needs, but I like the old-fashioned pen to paper method.
This saves on trips to the store. My husband and I can manage one trip to the store every two weeks if we are careful. Oftentimes the only thing we manage to run out of beforehand is our daughters baby food, which means an extra trip for just that, which could easily be avoided if we kept track of her eating patterns.
This can be a simple garden: a few herbs in pots or a potted tomato plant on the patio. The beauty of keeping a garden is the ability to grab the ingredients whenever you’d like them without worrying about too much spoiling. I always find that I don’t use enough of an herb when I buy it, but then a week later when I need it again it is horribly bad (you don’t use cilantro for everything.) With a potted plant there would be much less to worry about.
This can be more difficult if you are living in an apartment situation, but it is still possible. There are many plants that can be taken care of and grown indoors. There are also many apartment complexes that will allow you to grow potted plants on your patios.
Or recipe book. What a life changer, but the most important thing is to LAMINATE YOUR RECIPES. I can’t even begin to explain how many recipes I’ve lost or had to reprint because of too many stains. Sometimes they’ve even been completely soaked through before I realized they were even in dangerous. The kitchen is a dangerous place for paper.
Unfortunately I am even more OCD than you’d think, and instead of simply using the recipes in their respective books, I recopy all of the recipes onto my own recipes cards so they match and can be condensed into one organized space.
I cannot stand a messy kitchen. Multiple cases or bags of the same ingredient littered throughout the house. An unfortunate number of different fruits and veggies all crammed into one drawer in the fridge. There has to be a better way! And there is.
There are cases to find and fill the fridge with to open a new possibility of organization as well as Tupperware’s to use and organize the pantry with. The best way to keep clean containers is to label each in a way that suits your organization standards and personality.
If you haven’t been raised a homemaker (or even if you have) organizing your kitchen and planning proper meals can be a frustrating endeavor for anyone. We can take simple steps to improve them and even if we’ve managed to perfect our abilities in some factors, we can always add new abilities to our repertoire.
You can make meal planning easier with my “Digital Planner.”
What are some tricks you use to keep your family fed and healthy?
A Goodnotes Digital Planner to get you started on your 2022 journey.