Meal Planning Simplified

As a wife and a mother, so much of my time is spent planning, purchasing or preparing the food my family eats.  Taking the time to evaluate how I plan, purchase and prepare food can allow me to achieve a higher level of  simplicity. 

There are several things that have simplified the way I plan our weekly food menu.  When I first got married planning a menu was a foreign concept to me.  I had grown up in the city with a grocery store right down the road from us and often my Mom would pick up the items she needed for dinner each night.  (A shopping habit that has it's advantages!)  However, most of our married life we have lived in a small town that required a decent drive into town (or a bigger) town in order to get the items I needed for dinner.  I had to learn to make a menu. 

Most of our married life I would shop for groceries every two weeks.  After we moved to this house we have found that it works for me to get groceries every week.  Now, when my husband told me that I would get groceries every week I was pretty sure we were going to see the grocery bill hit the roof.  I was positive that I could do better getting groceries every two weeks.  I agreed to the plan and wondered how it would work.

I am here to say it is working out beautifully!  Here is why:

*When I would shop for two weeks I was more inclined to purchase more food than we needed because two weeks seemed like a long time away before I would get into town again to get groceries.  There was more milk to purchase (and thus my fridge was super crowded) at the beginning of the shopping rotation.

*I was more apt to purchase stuff because it was a good deal - more than if we needed it for the week.  (Now, this was just me.  I am sure there are some that are far more disciplined than I am and would not have this problem.)

Here is how I have simplified my grocery shopping:

*I make a menu for the next week.  ( I often try to combine meals to make more than one; but not the same one.  For example:  We have baked chicken one night for dinner I will make a salad with chicken in it the next afternoon for lunch.)

*I have gone to having salads for lunch.  We often have a slice of gluten free toast with the salad.  This makes lunch time meal prep a breeze!  I love this change in the menu. I purchase an organic spring mix for the salad base and work around that.  If I need to I usually have left over money from my shopping that I save.  If we run out of mix I have Rob pick up a container on his way home from work.  This insures us that the mix is fresh and has not been sitting in our fridge to long.  Gross!

*We have gone to making green smoothies in the AM for breakfast.  This is very easy and simple and the kids LOVE it.  I do feel that the kids need a bit more than just the smoothie so they have a bowl of rice cereal, or yogurt with granola on it.  It still is very easy to make and clean up is very simple!  I purchase bags of spinach for the smoothies.  I freeze the bags and one each morning for the smoothies for that day.  I can just add frozen spinach and it works just fine.  :)

*I get only what I need for what is on the menu.  Now, this has taken me a *LONG* time to figure out:  It does not matter how good of a deal it is - if I do not have the money for it - it is not a good deal for me!  (Like I said, this took a long time to sink in.  I was finding myself going over the grocery budget because I could not pass up good deals that were "too good to pass up"; but it was sending me over on the amount of money I had to spend.)  This has helped me to stay in budget and that helps with the stress of grocery shopping a lot!

*I shop at Aldi for 97% of my stuff.  Now, some of you might not have this store; but I LOVE this store.  There were things on my menu that Aldi did not carry.  Then I would have to stop at Walmart and get some things there.  Now, I get everything at Aldi (for food and grocery purchases) except for out salad mix.  That I get at a local store on the edge of town.  Aldi is great too because I do not have to worry about the sale items.  For the most part, their prices are the same week after week and I can plan y menu and know what the price is going to be. 

* To simplify our food I have two to three days out of the week that we have the same thing for that meal.  This works great because I only have to come up with a few meals each week.  I can vary those and keep those other days the same. Here are the days of the week where I menu stays the same: 

Wednesday nights - we attend church on Wed evenings.  Having a meal that is the same and easy to fix is a plus!  Right now, Wed nights are omelet nights.  I can vary the omelet week to week.  It is an easy meal to fix and one I can feed in shifts if Dad is running late getting home from work.  The Littles can eat before Dad gets home and I can make him a quick Omelet when he is pulling into the driveway. 

Sunday afternoons:  This has been a hard one for us to figure out.  We get home from church and hour after we are used to eating.  So, we need something that is quick and ready.  For years (and all while I was growing up) we did a roast or a baked chicken complete with all the fixings.  While a part of me loves this tradition, I had to be honest and say it made for a difficult and full Sunday afternoon with all the dishes that went along with a big meal.  Now, we do Southwestern Beans.  On Sat night I put in several cups of pinto beans into my crock pot, cover them with water and turn them on high.  They cook for the night and in the AM I turn them on low.  I also cut up some tomatoes and lettuce for them.  When we get home from church we have beans ready to eat with all the fixings (cheese, sour cream, and veggies).  It requires only a bowl to eat them so there are not a lot of dishes.  I leave the left over beans in the crock pot, set it in the fridge and use them the next day for lunch on a Southwestern Taco Salad.

Saturday nights:  We do a Popcorn, cheese night with apple slices.  It is all finger food and healthy for you.  James and Rob feel like it is not quite enough so they usually make a sandwich to go along with their popcorn.  By far, this is one of my most favorite meals of the week; and our daughter in Germany has said that she misses this meal the most while away from home.

These few things have helped to simplify our meals and my meal planning and grocery shopping.  I know there are advantages and disadvantages to different ways to get groceries; but this has been great for us right now.  What things have you done to simplify your meal planning and grocery shopping.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I am glad you did!


1 comment:

Blackhawkmomma said...

This comment spoke to me most~ "It does not matter how good of a deal it is - if I do not have the money for it - it is not a good deal for me!"

I think I need to rethink all those deals I seem to