You guys. I am the worst meal planner in the history of meal planners. Books could be written on my failure to follow through on carefully crafted monthly meal plans…probably due in large part to the fact that I LOVE eating…when someone else is cooking. As in, I love to eat out, but that is definitely not always in our budget (ha, the budget, That is another story for another time, dear friends). So last month (August) I decided to give meal planning another go. We were just wrapping up a whirlwind July wherein we were home exactly 3.5 days out of the whole month, or so it seemed. We were a family on the go, and needed a break from constant action. Made-at-home meals seemed like a great solution at the time, so I dove into the planning with all sorts of excitement and big expectations.
Here’s what my meal planning looks like.
A glorious, organized sight to behold, I know. I will be winning an award for “Most Prepared And Organized Home Cook In America” any day now.
Let me tell you guys – I took myself to Costco and the grocery store and when the dust had settled and we had spent approximately twenty thousand dollars at said establishments, I felt accomplished. Like I had won a serious battle or something.
And less than a week later we fell off the meal plan bandwagon. The end.
In all seriousness, though, I did better that I honestly had expected. Sure, there were days that I totally bombed, but overall I made it through the month having stuck to a meal plan for a majority of the time, which for me is a serious life accomplishment and an epic display of personal discipline.
So in the spirit of trying to reclaim peace and schedule in our home, I decided that I needed to give this planning thing another go…I learned a lot this last month and I know that there will be a lot more to learn this month, but I think it will be worth it. Not only will I shave off literally hundreds of dollars from our typical food spending thanks to needless, unplanned grocery store trips, but I think it will make school lunches a bit easier. Currently we wing it for lunches because we’re all at home…but with one off to school, winging it is not really an option for her and therefore not for the rest of us either.
This week I will dive in to September shopping/food prep/planning…I need all the prayers for sanity. Seriously, pray hard that I don’t lose steam two days in, because nothing puts a damper on the back to school spirit like mom crying in a corner, clutching a 6-hour-old cup of coffee, trying to wrap her mind around THREE MEALS A DAY for the next 200 some odd days of school that remain until summer comes.
Here are some of my plans for taking back mealtime this week and – hopefully – on into the foreseeable future:
Creating Accountability And Family Involvement
I have found that the more my kids and the hubs are involved, the easier it is to get them on board for things. For mealtimes, this means two things.
First, I will be writing the general idea of each meal on the chalkboard-painted backsplash above my kitchen counter. For my reading kiddo and the hubs, this means that they can see for themselves what foodstuffs the day holds (and relay that intel to the little ones) and I do not have to field 100 million questions every day like “when are we eating” or “what’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner” over and over and over. It is good for my sanity, if nothing else.
Second, I will work to get everyone more involved in meal prep and on-your-own eating whenever possible. If I can have fruit and veggies chopped/washed and ready to grab, kids can be self-sufficient for snacks. If I can find a job or two that kids can do in the kitchen to help make dinner, chances are higher they will actually eat it. So it really all probably evens out in terms of being less work/more work for me in the end, but by getting everyone on the same page it will be easier to force myself to stick to the plan and not just throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care and order pizza for dinner five nights in a row.
Toning Back My Master Chef Dreams
I have to face the facts: I just can’t eat the things I love at this season in life. Literally everyone in this household turns their noses up at FOOD FROM THE LORD like avocado, tomato, basil, potato salad, beets, and the entire spectrum of Indian food and spices. I mean really…I am living a foodie’s nightmare. Granted, I suppose I should be happy that my kids love some veggies and make healthy choices on their own most of the time, but sometimes I miss being able to whip up something that I find delicious and having no one complain that it is “too spicy” or “too tomato-ey” – the list goes on.
Last month I tried to get too fancy…and paid the price of wasted food. So this month I will focus on basics, and then give myself 2-3 meals where I can go crazy and make a mom-approved feast and everyone has to eat and at least pretend to like it. Here’s a basic idea of what I’m thinking (written on August’s calendar because that’s all I could find):
Soooooooo much chicken and pasta and nachos. But I must give the masses what they want, I suppose 🙂
Building In Room For A Change In Plans
Hubby and I will each get some cash this month to spend however we want. He could spend his on computer gear and books or whatever…I will probably spend mine on coffee and eating out. Priorities, you know? My hope and plan is that by building in a little cash buffer for both of us, we can find freedom to divert from the budget/food plan a little bit without feeling bad about it. If we end up not spending all of our allotted “fun money,” we will just roll it over to next month or go on a hot date 🙂 We will also allocate 2-3 “emergency” meals in our budget for nights when dinner burns or mom has had it with cooking or the kids are sick. I have found that I just do not do well when I stick myself in an ironclad schedule or box, so these little loopholes that are built into the plan itself give me just enough wiggle room that I don’t press too hard against the plan the rest of the time. It is genius, really.
Well, here goes nothing. I have high hopes for this week and this month!