For the month of January I will be running a life organization series that will give you simple ideas to keep your life running smoothly. I know that even with a pandemic happening, life goes on and sometimes things can feel out of control or disorganized. I am hoping that this series will help with that. I want to share some of the things that work well for me to keep my household running smoothly.
The first thing I am going to talk about is meal planning. Meal planning has been an extremely impactful part of my life. In general, I don't feel particularly energetic at the end of my day. During the week I don't have to spend time or energy choosing what we are going to eat for dinner. I have already done that work and it really makes my evenings run smoothly. Planning is easy and only takes me 15-20 minutes a week.
I take a look at what I have on hand. It is important to me to use up anything that may be expiring soon or going off. I like to reduce food waste. At this point, however, I don't usually have much left in the fridge. I have learned what we use and I pretty good at purchasing only what we need.
I make my grocery list. I try to only purchase things when they are on sale, with the odd exception. I look at the grocery flyer and find out what is on sale. I write out my grocery list by category. I used to write my list by aisle, but they have recently changed things up on me!
I decide on meals according to the ingredients that I will have on hand. It can help if you have a master list of the meals that your family enjoys. I do try new meals, but for the most part I pick from our family's master list.
Decide which days to put the meals on. I always look at our calendar in case we have something going on that will make it difficult to do meal prep that is more involved. For example, I host a Zoom book club on Monday evenings. This means that I need to get my kids to be early. On Mondays, I choose quick and easy meals so that I can serve dinner early.
Meal planning is so simple and it really takes the pressure off of me during the week. It is a 15 minute investment of time that can really change how you feel about feeding yourself and your family. There are a few simple things that you can do to help make this process even easier:
- Make a master meal list. Write down meals that your family enjoys. Ask your family what their favourite meals are. Use the list to help you plan when you are feeling stuck.
- Plan a theme night. On Fridays we always have chicken fingers and fries for supper. It isn't a culinary masterpiece, but by Friday I am so sick of cooking. It gives me a break and my kids love it. Saturday mornings are for cereal which is something I don't serve during the week.
- Feel free to swap your meals around if you need to. If you forgot to take out meat for supper, swap it with another meal on your list. There are no hard and fast rules to meal planning. It is simply framework for you to work with.