Save Time with Meal Planning
Today, I am welcoming Amylee Udell from Productive Mama to share time-saving tips that will make your meal planning easier. Amylee has some great ideas to help you save time and money on your meal planning. Amylee take it away….
Do you feel like you struggle to manage your time and, therefore, your family’s time management suffers? Was time management always a bit of a challenge, but now that you have children, it’s starting to wear on you? Are you just not naturally gifted in this area but know you need to step it up a notch, for your family’s sake?
If you could just DECIDE to change your habits and suddenly do so by the end of January, you would have already done so, right? It’s not realistic. And besides, you have other gifts to offer the world. We don’t want you to completely change. But if there’s ONE area you can make some small changes in that would DRASTICALLY improve the other areas of your life, THAT might make lasting impact and allow you to slowly grow in this area of challenge for you.
So, where should you put your limited “extra” energy to make some changes to your time management and how your household runs?
I don’t necessarily mean how your kitchen is organized or what appliances you have, though those CAN help. I mean taking some small steps to tweak what I call your Family Food System. We have systems, whether we call them that or not, in how we operate. You have one right now. It might be:
- Get everyone home at 4
- Get them started on homework
- Freak out about dinner. We need to eat!
- Throw open pantry, freezer and fridge to see what’s there
- Find frozen ground beef
- Give up because you are already starving (and stressed) and everything is frozen or you are missing a key ingredient
- Order pizza or open a box of cereal
That system is probably not ideal, but everyone got fed, so it’s not completely inefficient. You might hate doing things that way. It might be stressful to you. You might not mind it at all, but KNOW it’s not great for the kids. You might end up getting high-quality food from the Whole Foods deli, so it’s a little healthier but affecting your budget.
Having a solid Family Food System is vital to how your household runs, so if you can take control in this ONE area, other areas of time management will fall into place.
OK, fine. I get it. But where and how do I start?
Oh, you’re gonna hate me. You’re gonna roll your eyes. You know what I’m going to say: have a plan for each night’s meal.
Menu Plan? Everyone says that. Ugh, I hate doing it. I stink at it!
Well, there ARE ways around it (a stash of freezer meals and a pressure cooker so you don’t have to defrost them). But even THAT requires a system in order to have that stash ready for you.
The reason everyone says it is because it’s true. If you have a plan for your meals, you free up SO MUCH TIME AND MENTAL ENERGY. Don’t make it too hard. Get an envelope and write down the upcoming week’s days. Keep it simple for the first few weeks. Give each day a main ingredient and make a simple meal in that theme. This is just an example.
M – whole chicken (with potato and veggie?)
T – chicken soup (with leftovers?)
W – ground beef (pasta casserole?)
Th – beans
F – fish
Sat – chili (with leftover beans?)
Sunday – roast (or maybe go out!)
Then repeat! Or make two weeks and cycle through two weeks, offering your family the same meal no more than twice a month. Maybe a “theme” night suits you better? This isn’t as simple, but might be more your style?
M – Meat Night
T – Tacos/Mexican
W – Wellness (something extra healthy. Big salad? Vegetarian dish?)
Th – Asian Night
Sat – Mediterranean Night
Sunday – Celebration (Pizza? hot dogs? Whatever your family loves)
That’s the simplest form of menu planning. If you already menu plan and are ready to step it up a notch, consider using Plan To Eat to help you save even more time and money! Using this program, you’ll plan your menus AND build your shopping list at the same time.
Already do that, too? Check out some other great tips for your kitchen systems and your other home systems (yes, you have other systems) with the Productive Mama Productivity Pack. Available free until Jan 21!
How do you save time planning your meals?