Meal time. Meal time, meal time, meal time. . .
I cannot even begin to explain to you how big of a stressor meal time used to be in our home. In fact, it has caused slight tension at times if I’m being completely honest.
Back story: my husband is from Nicaragua. Nicaraguan men typically feel love by receiving food because food is such an intimate part of their culture. True story. So my beautiful, latin spice of a husband married a woman that hates cooking. Ironic?
Now let me bring you even further down the black hole that was dinnertime. My husband is a meat loving, white rice-aholic. If he could eat meat, rice, beans, and cabbage every single night of his life, he’d be thrilled. I am a gluten free vegan. I have a child who has sensory disruptions meaning he physically cannot eat foods that the average child can, and another child who gets tired of eating her daddy’s rice and bean meals every night. Soooooo, needless to say, I was overwhelmed in the kitchen. Never mind the strain on my bank account! Ouch.
Here I was, writing a blog about simple living, and I wasn’t walking the walk. Nothing about meal time was simple. I was stressed out, overwhelmed, and discouraged by anything and everything that related to feeding my family.
In 2018 I decided enough was enough! I needed to come up with a plan to simplify this aspect of our lives and that is exactly what I did. I started to implement small tactics into my day-to-day and I came up with a meal prep routine that I would follow weekly. I do the planning on a Sunday and shopping on a Monday because that is what works best for my family.
Take a peek at the video below to see my meal plan in action and continue scrolling for additional insight!
Choose the meals you will eat throughout the week – I plan out my breakfast, lunch, dinner, and quick bites to have readily available at all times, for both myself and the rest of my family.
Write meals into planner – once I have decided which meals I will be planning for, I write them into my planner under the “note” section and place the source next to it, whether it be a page in a cookbook, or a Pinterest recipe. By doing this I am able to quickly access the recipe anytime I need to reference it.
Compile shopping list – I go recipe by recipe, writing down any ingredients that are needed to complete the meal. If you want to take things a step further you can group like items so you can save time scanning your list in the store. I personally find it takes me more time to re-organize my list as opposed to scanning while I shop.
Scan pantry for available inventory – After I have completed the shopping list I will walk into my pantry, scan for items that I already have available, and mark off the items that I don’t need to repurchase.
Shop at a discount grocery store, buying only what is on your list – If you are shopping strictly for convenience, you may be missing out on a beautiful opportunity to save a lot of money which could ultimately ease your anxieties about meal prep. I drive to the next town over where I save a significant amount of money by shopping at Aldi. This also saves me time as Aldi is “gluten free” friendly and I don’t have to spend excess time scanning labels.
Stick to the items on your list. Anytime I want to stray and grab a bag of this, that, and the other I remind myself that all of my meals are accounted for. Not only have I saved money by being disciplined, I have avoided food spoiling before I am able to get to it (psssst my total cost has gone from over $300/shopping trip, to less than $150.)
Prepare meals ahead of time – By doing so you are ensuring that you have a meal available at all times. The meals in THIS video are some of my go-tos. They are quick, easy, and hold up well in the fridge. Smoothies are simple enough, but if I don’t prep them in bags at the beginning of the week, I won’t take the time to make them throughout the week.
- Have a meal replacement shake on hand for busy mornings. I drink Shakeology, but any meal replacement will do. You can also drink a shake before a work event or party so you are less likely to mindlessly grab for foods that offer little to no nutritional value.
- Have easy to grab snacks. You’ll rarely find me without a bag full of nuts and fruit.
- Keep a list of your go-to recipes. Pinterest is a fantastic resource. You can create a board full of “tried and true” recipes that your family enjoys and rotate them out every few weeks. I plan most of my meals using “The Simply Health Cookbook” and the “Isa Does it” cookbook. I find that using a cookbook and marking the pages simplifies the process of cooking. P.S. The Simply Health Cookbook is full of recipes made using five ingredients or less. It’s my fave!
- Make once, eat twice. If you are preparing every meal, every day you will burn out. Anything that holds well in the fridge I make ahead of time.
- Consider a meal delivery service. If half of the battle is coming up with what to cook, consider simplifying that process as well. I use a meal delivery service three days a week. On Monday and Tuesday I cook simple, affordable meals. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I cook the meals that are delivered to me. Saturday and Sunday we eat out of the house or grub on leftovers. Save time: check! Save money: check! Save my sanity: check!
I have been following this system for six weeks now and it has completely transformed the way I think about meal prep.
As always, I encourage you to look at your own life, determine what is causing you the most stress, and create systems that alleviate that stress.
Good luck! x, tara