5 ways to make the most of your meal plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail, said Benjamin Franklin, or Winston Churchill-- whoever really said it is up for debate, but the phrase speaks volumes no matter who first coined it. If we truly want to succeed in life, whether it be in business, tackling the laundry monster once and for all, or in living your healthiest mama life-- planning is key. And where I'm all about flexibility (doesn't really matter if you do your whites on Tuesday or Thursday, or at all- I'm kind of a throw it all in and hope for the best kind of gal, myself) having some sort of structure in our lives (when exactly ARE you going to throw that load in?) just ensures things actually get done. Serving your family healthy meals is no different. If you don't plan for nourishing meals, pick out the recipes, or at the very least go to the store with a plan in mind and choose ingredients that make up legitimate meals (one onion, half a bell pepper and some half-hard cheese do not make a meal for four, mama) you'll most likely find yourself dialing the nearest takeout place, pulling a pizza from the depths of your deep freeze or worse- taking a cruise through the drive through.
Now I'm ALL about balance. We all have those nights where we just can't. The days where the kids are screaming, the baby didn't nap, you've been scrubbing that weird stain on the floor for forty minutes and HOW DID YOU GET COVERED IN PAINT?!, then you realize you forgot to defrost the meat--- takeout is totally warranted on those nights. But even though every day is crazy in it's own way, every day does not necessitate haphazard semi-healthy, "pizza sauce counts as a veggie, right?" meals. At least not if you want to feel your best, live your longest and give your kids the best chance at a healthy life, too.
So you try to make a plan. You scribble down a few ideas in your notepad, jot a few groceries down and go on your merry way to the store. You fill your cart to the brim with food and leave with a triple digit receipt on Sunday. Monday you nail your first meal, feeling like a rockstar mama, only to realize Tuesday you totally forgot your kids have soccer, dance and theatre all in the same night and you're totally not making a pork loin. So you decide to make it Wednesday and use the leftovers on Thursday but your oldest has a friend over and they eat the whole roast so you're stuck without a plan for Thursday. So you make Friday's meal on Thursday and Friday you're just way too exhausted to even think about making meatloaf so you grab takeout and Saturday is date night... the next Sunday rolls around and half the food in your fridge is spoiled. Sound at all familiar? Planning is great... when it WORKS for your life. Same with meal prep. Meal planning works for everyone. You just have to make it work for YOU, boo. So how can you make the most of your meal plan to avoid over-shopping, a garbage bag full of wishful thinking and actually plan (and execute) healthy meals for your family? 1. Get out your CALENDAR. This is a check yo self before you wreck yo self reality check: if you don't know what's going on in your life, how can you plan for it? The first step to a successful meal plan is determining WHAT you have going on, WHEN, so you can plan APPROPRIATE meals. Out until 7 at practice and rehearsal and need dinner ready stat when you get home? Get that slow cooker going early. Have a bit of extra time but the next day is a doozy? Take some time making a bigger meal (like a roast, whole chicken, chili, soup or stew) and do leftovers the next night. Plan for YOUR life.
2. Only plan for 5 days. It's inevitable- life happens. Things come up, schedules change and exhaustion comes over us. So we grab takeout one night, shift things a bit, and to avoid having extra food that might go bad, plan for five days, knowing very well you'll likely eat out or grab something quick one night and one night can be leftovers or something easy (say, breakfast for dinner). 3. Stumped as to what to make? Remember that recipe everyone loved but have NO idea where the heck you found it? Keep a running master meal list, with sources, of all your favorite recipes from all over- cookbooks, blogs, your grandma's famous lentil stew. A Pinterest board is great but not every recipe is online- so having a place where a list of your tried and true favorites lies is key to making meals the whole family loves.
4. Create a grocery routine. I don't care if you shop once a week or once a month, on Tuesday or on Saturday-- making a routine out of grocery shopping (and going with a LIST) ensures you HAVE the foods on hand to make the meals you plan, without having to run out at 5pm with a cranky baby. 5. Meal Prep. You knew I was going to say that, right? But before you turn the other way-- you DO have time to meal prep. Even if it's 20 minutes, 60 minutes, or you have a whole day (bless you!). Any amount of prep you do for a healthier week (popping some chicken and broth in the slow cooker to cook and shred for multiple meals takes less than 5 minutes, dude) will simplify your life. My course goes into different styles of meal prep, because there is no one right way. But whether you take my advice or do your own thing, it's fine by me-- meal prep WILL make you a meal plan master. Want to hang out with me in person, learn all my tips and tricks (like an hour and a half of them) and ask me ALL your burning meal planning questions? You know you do! Join me for Meal Planning Made Easy, this Thursday May 24 at Bellevue Barre. Sign up on Momunity: https://momunity.co/Meal-Planning-Made-Easy/