Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Trying to come up with nutritious meals everyday can get exhausting. I want the girls (and Anthony & I) to eat fairly healthy foods most of the time and finding the time to prepare meals was starting to get tough. Sometimes I would just stare into the fridge hoping the little fridge-fairy would just whip something up real quick for me and have it neatly prepared on four of my china plates. No such luck.
So, back in November I decided to give meal planning a try. I had talked about it with a couple friends and decided that it might just work. Especially seeing that it entailed writing lists and that's something I'm pretty good at; to-do lists, grocery lists, gift shopping lists, etc. I've got them all down pat. So, meal planning seemed right up my alley.
I began by rummaging through our office for a notebook and made me up a chart of the week including only breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Then I filled in the spaces for the week. I took into account any lunches or dinners that we might be dining out and included those accordingly. Sometimes, by Wednesday's list, my eyes start to blur over and I began to nod off. But I push through because I know this is helping me to be better organized when it comes to feeding my family. Not only does it keep me in check to ensure we're eating somewhat healthy, but it helps to avoid too much waste in the fridge and pantry.
Now, I'm a few months in and have a process that keeps me sane. Sometime over the weekend, I find some time to make up my list for the coming week. I browse through my pantry and refrigerator to see what I have on hand, check expiration dates and decide what I need to use first. Then I check to see if there are any ingredients I need for the coming week's meals and make up my grocery list alongside my meal planning list. I grocery shop weekly to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, maybe milk and eggs too, and just add any other items to that list. I only write out the main portion of the meal too; the pasta, meat or whathaveyou and give the girls the choice of fruit and dessert after the meal.
It's not perfect but it's working for me right now. There are days when I stray from my meal planner and I feel like a rebel whipping something up on a whim. I am constantly getting recommendations from friends and family for meal ideas and add them to my planning list. Planning, preparing meals and sitting with the family around the table is important to me and this has helped me a lot. In our life as a busy family of four, it is easy for things to get chaotic real quick. It's reassuring that I have some structure to parts of our day that we truly benefit from.