Nothing has been normal about family meal planning lately. You haven’t been on your “A” game. Maybe your schedule has been off, the kids have been off of school, or life events leave you feeling less than “normal”.
Nothing has been normal in my house lately. Kids are home. We put the house up for sale. We lived in a house that was in show condition, never knowing when we had to leave at a moment’s notice. I burned at least one crockpot meal because we had to leave for a showing and the food cooked for an additional three hours longer than anticipated. The inspector put his foot through our ceiling and it had to be repaired–twice.
If this is representative of your life let me reassure you.
I set down to meal plan last night because the house is empty of food. Mother Hubbard’s cupboards were bare. The dog didn’t even have a bone. I have to grocery shop tomorrow. I hate grocery shopping. My husband said, “I think you hate grocery shopping because lately, you haven’t had a plan. Isn’t this the stuff you write about? Haven’t you even written cookbooks?”
He is one of few people that can call me out like that, and he’s right. It is time for the rubber to meet the road, put the plan into action, use the tools I have made, and … meal plan.
While we watched a program I came up with this.
Everyone who tested the cookbooks said the plan works, but it was time to revisit this myself. I printed the Weekly Menu Planner and put it to use. It’s not pretty, and I took liberties with it, but I found (again) that it works. I overplanned and suggested I would cook for 12 days. There will be times we won’t eat all of the food I prepare, so we’ll have leftovers. This is easily a plan for a full two weeks. I spent $228.02 for a family of four to eat for two weeks. No couponing, extreme couponing, or stockpiling required.
Meal planning is not a standalone activity. It works best hand-in-hand with your calendar of events. See my notes. The kids are going back to school next week. Meet the Teacher night is Tuesday. The first day of school is Wednesday. Let your schedule help dictate how you cook, if you need a slow cooker meal, or don’t have time to cook and need to eat leftovers. Notice we are having a yard sale on Saturday. When someone can duck inside for a meal we will have chicken chili in the crockpot. It needs to be ready when we can eat, so I’ll prepare it in the morning. It will be a large enough pot in case it needs to double and repeat for dinner. No need to call for a pizza. I am cooking a whole chicken on Sunday, so I need to put it in the fridge on Thursday to defrost. We need quick nutritious breakfasts and packable lunches. Healthy snacks must be available when everyone gets home and wants to nibble on something.
Breakfasts will include sausage patties and homemade biscuits. If you know our back story you know the girls are gluten intolerant, so I’ll make biscuits with ingredients they can consume. Oatmeal and muesli, our favorite breakfast cereal, will be available for variations.
I bought an eye of round beef roast and a turkey breast to roast and slice thin for sandwiches. Roasted meat is cheaper per pound than lunch meat bought at the deli counter. If you’re buying 2 or 3 kinds of lunch meat the roasted method is cheaper and a better quality. I don’t know if anyone will have a peanut allergy in either of the girl’s classes so I can’t count on peanut butter for a lunch staple. Lots of fruit and veggies will round out the bento style lunches. Cherries, grapes, plums, carrots, tomatoes, and salads will provide variety.
I purchased a bag of frozen shrimp for $14.98. It’s wild caught and pure shrimp. I bought a whole pork loin. Yes, I know pork is the fattiest meat around, but I am getting back into the swing of meal planning, and it will be prepared well (i.e. baked not fried, with apple cider vinegar for chops, and as a roast with homemade barbecue sauce. A little grace, please? The whole loin cost $12.75 for 6.44 lbs. At least two portions will go into the freezer for future for meal planning.
I wanted chicken breasts without antibiotics and additives, but couldn’t find them. I subbed in already prepared chicken meatballs for vegetable medleys and more. Did you just shriek? No worries, the ingredients and seasonings are pure, no antibiotics, no msg. It’s all good stuff. I read the label. We even taste-tested them before purchase. Before you eww them too much take a peek at the dish we made with them.
When we couldn’t find the chicken the girls begged for meatballs. Sometimes you have to substitute on the fly.
It goes without saying around our house Fridays are taco night. When tacos are on the menu some basics are understood. Avocados are on hand to make guacamole. Fat-free refried beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and tortillas or corn shells. I can live with these tiny splurges. If we were in a Mexican restaurant we would consume at least two bowls of chips. I call this a win. We coined grande tacos as newlyweds. It’s a flour tortilla covered with refried beans and a corn shell holding the meat, lettuce, salsa etc. Slip the crispy shell inside the flour tortilla and eat the whole thing at one time. Trust me, one is a meal.
Homemade granola will be on hand for quick consumption. I like raw veggies, so I keep Greek yogurt on hand to mix with ranch seasoning as a veggie dip. 1 cup Greek yogurt to 3 Tbsp ranch seasoning. Good quality peanut butter, almond butter, or substitute is usually available too.
It helps to have staples in your pantry. Here’s a glance into what I keep on hand.
You’ll usually find various flours we can consume. Raw honey is a good substitute for sugar. Olive oil, applesauce, oats, almonds, taco shells. peanut butter and various items to pull together meals.
No worries. We’re not going to cover the BPA in plastic and canned goods. We’re not even going to talk about the coconut oil controversy. We will cover that soon.
Has your life been crazy? What family meal planning help do you need to get back on track? Add your needs in the comments.
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Originally published at www.wetalkhealthy.com on August 10, 2017.