Being a stay at home Mom to three little ladies ages 6, 4 and almost 2, means the hours of 4:00- 7:00 are often a blur and dinner time can quickly become quite a circus! After having Isla, I decided I need to put together some simple systems that would allow us to make quick, healthy and most important, delicious recipes throughout the week.
Now, true confession, some weeks I feel like I absolutely hit meal planning OUT OF THE PARK, while other weeks it’s breakfast for dinner and one of our favorite Trader Joe’s freezer section meals (I’m looking at your orange chicken). But, I do feel like I have a few quick and easy tips that will take some of the stress of meal planning away and dare I say, even make you enjoy cooking for your family!
Tip 2: UTILIZE grocery pick-up and delivery services! What I would have done for this option when all three of my girls were newborns. It had actually just become popular when Isla was born, but at the time there were fees attached, so I decided to brave the grocery store with all three of the girls, which often lead in grocery store bribes and deep breathes for Mommy.
What I also love about grocery pick-up, besides everything about grocery pick-up, is that it allows me to be very intentional in what I add to my cart, which also helps me stick to a budget! I often have my Any List list open, cookbook with the recipes tabbed that I will be making for the week and my grocery pick-up app open, ready to add all the items we need. It’s a quick, simple and seamless process.
Tip 3: Select ONE cookbook to work from for the month and pair “like” recipes together. For example, I may batch make a few pasta dishes one week that include similar ingredients, that way I’m not wasting a more particular ingredient, like garlic, basil, or fresh mozzarella. I can always freeze one of the dishes to have the following week, which allows me to utilize all the ingredients I purchased to the maximum!
Tip 4: Speaking of freezing… I know that my girls will always be down for ground turkey tacos, so when I’m making tacos, I double batch the ground turkey and freeze half. This way, I can easily defrost the other half on a night when dinner time is a complete circus and I have nothing planned to eat! I also batch make the girls waffles and pancakes on Sunday mornings, it is a goal of mine in 2020 to “home make” more of the girls foods, instead of falling back on freezer options. Batch making an entire box of protein pancakes is super easy and my girls love eating them throughout the week!
Tip 5: Remember the season of life that you are in… my girls aren’t the most adventurous when it comes to their food, but I can promise you, they are offered a protein, grain and fruit/vegetable at every meal. In my opinion, I’m not super concerned about the variations of these items, I’m more concerned that the girls are eating fruits and vegetables. Give yourself a little grace and remember, you too once denied cauliflower and now cauliflower is slowly taking over our world.
Tip 6: Make a goal with your significant other, how many times a week are you hoping to sit down at the table as a family to eat dinner? This perhaps is the most important part of mealtime, Scott and I have made a goal to eat at the dinner table as a family at least three times a week. Between after school activities and just the chaos of life, the girls will often eat first and Scott and I will eat after they go to bed. But, three nights a week, we are committing to sitting down and enjoying a meal together. Traditions help with this goal too, Friday pizza night is a great place to start! Take away the pressure of cooking and just enjoy sitting down with your family.
I hope a few of these tips can help make meal planning a bit more simple, while I truly enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes, nothing brings me more joy then sitting down at the table as a family, even if it’s over take-out!