Control what you can… y’all I’m an obsessive meal planner, not my choice but necessity. (I have one kid with a limited sensory diet and whenever I cook I’m basically making two different meals. And that is pretty hard to just figure out on the fly.)
I love the idea of meal planning but it’s exhausting, and I get decision fatigue. I’ve tried everything and I have the Pinterest boards to prove it.
Emily Ley had this idea of theme meal days and basic meal planning I’ve implemented since January after I read her book A Simplified Life. Thanks to Covid Grocery issues, I had to really, really, really, plan through March and April. (And cry… I can’t be the only one who cried at the grocery store) By May and June, I started writing everything down in my teacher planner (it wasn’t getting used) and now I have a pretty sustainable routine.
So, when I ordered my teacher planner, I ordered a meal planner. And to reduce decision fatigue, I sat down an planned out all my meals for August. And one day I was frustrated so I put my energy to good use and meal prepped several freezer meals.
I’m sharing with you in case you want to steal some ideas and reduce your meal planning stress. Please note: I don’t eat Keto, or Vegan, or anything fancy, but rather mostly real food for a preschooler and picky husband. And for August I picked the easiest recipes. Don’t judge.
My Non Expert Tips:
1. Theme you meal days. You can create themes based off cuisine: Mexican, Italian, American, Chinese. Or you could do it off of cooking method: easy, crockpot, instapot, sheet pan meals. Or whatever works for your family. (You can always change it up if you get bored)
2. Write down (or create different Pinterest boards) for all the recipes you have based on these themes. You can use my Pinterest boards! Slow Cooker Sunday Italian Night Casseroles Taco Tuesday Friday Fun Night Make it Easy Monday
3. Plan a month at a time if you can. Don’t shop everything but plan out your ideas. Leave a few days blank so you can “bump” a meal if your plans change (get invited over for dinner, go out) We typically have leftovers so I try to schedule a leftover lunch/meal day. Plan our what you will need to shop for each week. This way when you go to the store or like me shop create your cart online, you don’t have to think as much.
4. Identify what you can prep ahead of time: some casseroles are easy to freeze. I use foil pans and flash freeze them. (That’s just a fancy way to say I but it all together but before you would typically bake the casserole, put it in the freezer without a lid or sealing it. This lets it freeze without steam buildup that would cause frostbite. Then, once it’s frozen cover and seal up tight. I use both cling wrap and then foil. ) Some ready to cook meals can be stored easily in gallon bags and laid flat to freeze for easy storage: meats in marinades, chili, soups, Instapot meals.
5. Organize your fridge and freezer do you can actually find your food. This is big for me… stuff gets lost and wasted in our fridge otherwise. I bought this fun bin from amazon: BINO Stackable Plastic Organizer Storage Bins
6. Communicate to your family know what’s for dinner. This just helps… everything. We keep a white board calendar for our schedule and meals.
See how that goes and adjust. My big goal is to make meals simpler, yet enjoyable. Whatever this month holds… we won’t be left hungry.
Except… I haven’t even started planning lunches yet!!! Eek! But maybe I can wing it. 😀