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A Meal Plan in the Hand Worth Two Maids in the Bush

on | in Motherhood | by | with 10 Comments

I Hope I Am Not The Only Mom Out There . . .

That sometimes feels embarrassed by my inability to do it all/be it all: attentive wife, engaged mother, excellent cook and housekeeper, friend and more.

Since becoming a parent I have made lists, charts,  and even spreadsheets. Why? To comb through each aspect of my day and find a way to get some time back, of course! Unfortunately, it often requires so much focus and discipline to get that extra time that I can barely relax when I get there. Sound familiar?

I’ll admit, in the last six weeks Gigi has freed up her schedule to help me get things done and life has gotten a lot easier as we prepare for this baby to arrive. I know this isn’t an option for most of you and it got me thinking about what life would be like without her.

Um . . . HARD!!! But not impossible ; – )

For me, planning and simple routines have made all the difference. Every Sunday I spend about an hour planning the next weeks meals. It doesn’t have to take this long, but I think the hunt for new, savory recipes is worth it ; – ) Since most of the recipes I use are online I just create a spreadsheet with links, like this:

Monday TuesdayWednesday
BreakfastBreakfastBreakfast
Baked OatmealLeftover Baked OatmealBacon & Eggs*
LunchLunchLunch
Deviled EggsLeftover spaghetti w/ clamsLeftover roast chicken
Raw veggies w/ homemade ranchSaladBaked sweet potatoes
DinnerDinnerDinner
Spaghetti w/ clams and saffronRoast ChickenLamb Korma (double recipe)
Summer Salad w/ Peach Walnut DressingBasmati Rice
* soak rice for Lamb Korma

There are a couple of important features to this meal plan:

  1. As you can see, I don’t really make lunch, I just double the recipe for dinners and serve the leftovers the next day. No one complains about this . . . I guess they like me better when I’m not stressed from trying to make three meals a day from scratch .
  2. Also, I include reminders to myself about when to start preparing for future meals. So when I am frying up eggs and bacon on Wednesday morning I am also putting the basmati rice in to soak until dinner.
  3. Each meal plan has 3-4 easy meals with a few more involved ones. I schedule those meals on days I know I am likely to be busy and/or tired from a long week. Omelettes, sandwiches, and homemade pizzas are all fast and nourishing (I make a bunch of pizza crusts ahead of time and then freeze them).
  4. Using my spreadsheet I make a shopping list for the ritual Monday morning trek to Whole Foods. Each item is organized by where it is in the store, which means that pickles are listed under dairy because for some odd reason that’s where they are. Shopping is a breeze because I’m not zigzagging and backtracking through aisles trying to get what I need.

To many of you this may seem very OCD (“may”?), but this method makes my life MUCH easier throughout the week. I am able to easily meet the nutritional needs of my family without spending all day in the kitchen or losing my mind.

I am STILL working on a series that I hope will make life easier for you in the kitchen, but in the meantime I recommend that you visit Kat’s post, Get a Chef, A Maid or a Nanny by Creating Effective Routines for some inspiration.

But before you leave, please share your wisdom with the rest of us! How do you make things run smoothly when it comes to housekeeping, caring for children and meal prep?

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10 Responses to A Meal Plan in the Hand Worth Two Maids in the Bush

  1. Kandace says:

    What a great post! I have some of the same routines. I also have my cleaning schedule broken down into a two week rotation so that I only have to clean a little each day and it all gets cleaned every two weeks. This feels much less overwhelming to me then having one huge marathon cleaning day each week.

    • Heather says:

      Kandace – I love the idea of a rotated cleaning schedule. Since our house is on the market right we clean everything all the time, but whenever we move I am definitely setting this up!

  2. Melinda says:

    I’m so glad you said you organize your shopping list by where things are in the store! I do that too but when I tell people, they look at me like I’ve just grown a spare limb. That is until I tell them that the first time I did it, I saved 30 minutes and $30 (from fewer impulse purchases.)

    • Heather says:

      So true, Melinda. I think it’s really good advice not to grocery shop while you’re hungry for the same reason, but since I am nursing and pregnant I am ALWAYS hungry. Having a well-organized list at least keeps my impulse buys to a minimum ; – )

  3. Carla says:

    I also plan meals a week at a time. Very early on a Saturday morning, before everyone in the house rises, I sit and peruse my collection cookbooks and recipes to decide what I will cook during the week. I don’t mind spending my time this way, because I love to read cookbooks and recipes. I then select 5-6 easy meals that I can make within 30 each night, and write out my grocery list after checking my pantry for what I already have on hand. For me, meal planning is an important part of what I do for my family. I enjoy cooking and feeding them healthy, delicious foods. So it’s a win-win in our household.

  4. Melodie says:

    I am really bad about menu planning. I always figure it out at the last minute unless I know I want to make something in particular, then I put it on my grocery list and make it within a couple days. I’m usually a really organized person but not so much with meals.
    I’ve given you an award Heather! Come and pick it up here: http://www.breastfeedingmomsunite.com/2010/07/purposefully-self-absorbed/

    • Heather says:

      Wow, Melodie. Thank you! I was writing a blog when I found this but now I feel so good and relaxed by the warm fuzzies I got that I can’t think straight ; – ) Going to go beg for a foot massage from the hubs to perfect the experience. Thanks for making my day!

  5. Abbey Byrd says:

    Im a young housewife with my first baby on the way. (Doing a home-birth, cloth diapering, and BF)
    I just recently accomplished the HELPFUL task of meal planning, I usually just buy staples for breakfast and lunch with leftovers in the mix and spend a couple hours planning about 15 meals. (Paycheck to paycheck) ANYWAY, how can I be sure that my meals are balanced and nutritious? Any tips/blogs/sites? I’m 19 and was raised by my Dad who never cooked…so when I got married I was starting all of this craziness ;) from scratch. Thanks.

  6. […] usually end up with either scrambled eggs for dinner or an expensive meal out). Here are some tips to get you started, or you can save your afternoon and subscribe to one of these awesome meal plans for as little as […]

  7. Maria says:

    I have *the* hardest time with meal planning of any kind. It was never something my mother did growing up, she just made whatever she decided to make that night. So, for me, the thought in the back of my mind is am I going to want to eat that night what I planned a week ago? And thus, no planning ever happens. I also do not really know how to cook much, so I feel I don’t have much of a recipe pool to pull from. I have signed up for the Real Food for Busy People class, so maybe things will get easier!
    I also get a lot of my food from a kind of farm co-op where I have to order things a week ahead of time, which means if I want to use stuff from the farm, I need to know way ahead of time what I will be making! Kinda hard on the meal planning as well.

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