Hey everybody! So I wanted to share our family’s version of a weekly meal prep. Now to give you a little background of the life before kids…Jay and I are BIG time foodies. Some people spend their extra money on clothes, houses, cars, accessories, etc. What Jay and I used to spend our extra money on was restaurants. Trying the latest and greatest. (We also spent our extra money on wine, but that’s for another time). It also didn’t help that we lived in the SF bay area where we had access to some of the best restaurants in the world. Also, my husband loves to cook and by cook, I mean, straight up restaurant cooking with the best of the best ingredients. (Yes, I know how lucky I am). Whole foods and smaller gourmet food markets got a lot of our money. It was wonderful 🙂 Then we had kids…
Don’t get me wrong, our son and our soon to be little girl, are our everything and we wouldn’t change that for the world. I would gladly give up fancy restaurants time and time again for them! With kids, your priorities just change. Your extra money really goes mostly to your kids. I can’t tell you how many clothes my son has (as well as my future daughter)! As for me and my husband…well, it seems like 95% of our clothing purchases go to our kids and the rest to me and the hubby. haha. From clothing to toys to their room decor to you name it, you’re spending a lot of money them. So, the fancy food purchases and frequent visits to high end restaurants has, for the most part, gone out the window.
So, one of the two main reasons why we meal plan and get all of our grocery shopping done in one weekly trip is to save some $$$$. Because when you go once a week, you are really only getting things you need instead of buying extra things here and there…which is what I used to do all the time. The other reason we meal plan is…time! Before kids, I wasn’t the biggest fan of going to the grocery store. Probably because we never meal planned and was literally at the grocery store every day to pick up dinner for that night. Looking back, what a waste of time. Hey, at least the groceries were fresh! Now that I have kids, I can’t tell you how much of a luxury it is to go to the store by yourself. Who would have thought? When your kid is baby it’s hard not only because they are crying half of the time but you have the whole car seat in the cart creating no room to put in your groceries. Not to mention timing everything around nap and feeding schedule. When they are toddlers and preschoolers, it only gets worse. And for the most ridiculous things! Last time I was at the store my angel of a child decided to have a screaming and crying fit in the produce section while literally everyone was staring at us. There was an old man just holding an apple in his hand staring with his mouth open like he was watching a car crash happening right before his eyes. I even had a mom come over and tell me that I was doing a good job with a look of “I feel for ya sister’ written all over her face. Want to know why this wonderful outburst happened? Because my son wasn’t able to put a tomato that I picked out into the cart by himself. 20 minutes of embarrassment just for that. I can’t even imagine what it’ll be like with two kids. For that one instance alone, I am so grateful that these grocery trips are only once a week! So, there you have it. Meal planning is amazing. Not only for saving money and time, but for many other reasons as well.
For us, meal planning is really quite simple. We discuss what we want for the week and write it down. I have an iPhone so I keep most of my lists in the notes section. A few of the notes I have are always kept on my phone. One of them being meals that we’ve made that we would make again. When we are deciding what we’d like for the week, I simply look at that list to get ideas of what might sound good for that week. To get even more specific, I have the meals broken into categories….bc who wants to have chicken all week long? For us, i have it broken down by chicken dishes, turkey dishes (usually ground turkey), beef dishes, pork dishes, carbs (pastas, potato dishes, pizza, etc) and then by soup. Don’t ask me why I have it like this, but it works. It might seem silly to even have a list of categories, but I feel like it kind of helps mix up what we are having for dinner that week. I am also a huge Pinterest fan and I like to try at least one new recipe for the week just to mix it up even more. If it’s awesome, I add it to my list of keepers. I usually just write down five dishes for the week and then each night we figure out what sounds best to us. I know some people like to write down what they are having each night, and if that works for them, then great. But for our family, we just like to mix it up a lot. Here’s an example of what we might have for the week:
- Pork tenderloin
- Cherry tomato pasta with chicken
- Turkey tacos
- Roasted chicken with basil and goat cheese
- Pinterest meal – pesto grilled shrimp
Now, I only do 5 meals because usually we have a leftover night and the other night we end up just ordering take-out or actually going out to eat, date night etc. I have found that just getting 5 meals worth at the store is best for our family so we don’t waste any food and can be flexible. Once the list of meals is written down for the week, then I make a grocery list of all of the ingredients we need…along with other necessities. Easy peasy! And that’s how we do our meal planning. It really has helped us a ton in the long run while still allowing us to be flexible in deciding what we’d like to eat each night. Hope this helps you if you feel like your dinner time always seem to be a little chaotic. 🙂