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Meal planning for your family

hands chopping vegetables

Ever since people started inviting me into their homes to organize their messy drawers and garages, their crazy piles of paper and dirty clothes, I’ve realized something: If all of y’all could see what is in your neighbors homes, you wouldn’t be so hard on yourselves!

Sometimes you get an idea in your head that you are not as good at housekeeping, organizing, or parenting as the other adults around you.
Girlfriend, let me assure you they are struggling just as much as you are! Maybe they struggle with different aspects of running a house, but the struggle is real.

When it comes to meal planning, there aren’t as many parents who actually have a meal plan as magazines, pinterest, and HGTV would have us believe. Some of us organized people try to plan it out. But just as many of us busy people are flying by the seat of our pants!

This summer at our family reunion, I got to ask 4 moms how they feed their families. Here’s what they had to say about their meal planning strategies (or lack thereof).

Catherine is advanced

My Cousin, Catherine, is a family dentist and her husband, Adam, works full time as well. They have 2 small kids and are too busy to go out to dinner during the week! She is one organized mama and does the hard work of meal planning for the week on Sundays.

Here’s what Sunday looks like for this amazing woman-

  • find healthy recipes for Mon-Thurs on pinterest
  • print the recipes and put them in her binder
  • write out her grocery list the old-fashioned way–on paper
  • grocery shop (only once a week most weeks)
  • prep the ingredients for the whole week, including lunches for mom and dad to take to work!

This is a lot of work for Sunday. But it allows the family to eat healthy, homemade food every night of the week with minimal effort each night.
Friday is a freebie, where they either have pizza or go out for “a great way to end the week!”

Mikie’s meal planning was non-existent

Mikie is my sister as you can easily tell from this video. And while we sound exactly alike, our organizing strengths are polar opposite. She is a creative, spontaneous powerhouse who never used the phrase “meal planning” until I asked her to record this video!

She did however create an elaborate, effective system for deciding where the family would go out to eat without fighting. This system involved small envelopes and colored stickers. It was definitely pinterest-worthy!

Her two kids “did not appreciate [her] culinary skills”. So they had hamburgers, pasta, pizza (always homemade!), and tacos most nights.
Like the other moms I talked to, Mikie didn’t have any help with meals or grocery shopping. Her kids are grown now. She would spend about $200 a week on groceries back in the 2000’s. How much do you spend now on a week of groceries? (I’m at about $250 for 4 people.)

Emily has 3 kids and a plan for the week

Emily loves to cook. She says all five people eat at home most nights, and she plans out the week and shops on Mondays after school. She uses the notes app on her phone to make a list which she adds to whenever she thinks of something they need.

Her two girls are old enough (9 & 10) to help her out with meal prep.

When I asked these two southern cuties what their favorite thing their mom makes is, they both answered pasta. Their little brother chimes in “biscuits!” from the background. But he didn’t want to be interviewed.

Amy uses a meal delivery service

When I asked Amy if she does meal-planning she answered, “Kind of.” which is her way of saying she decides what to order from a meal delivery service. (Now THAT sounds like a good way to handle a hungry family!)

Her service delivers portioned out meats, vegetables, and all needed seasonings and ingredients to make homemade meals. The ingredients need to be prepped and cooked. But there is a lot of flexibility around which meals and how many different meals are delivered each week.

Outside of the service, Amy is a buy-what-you-need-as-you-need-it kinda lady. She doesn’t do lists unless she has a recipe in her hand. The family eats out a lot, and she does the lion’s share of the work around meal planning.

My favorite part of the interview is when Amy admits her kids don’t always eat what she cooks. Like that’s some kind of secret! Do anyone’s kids eat whatever is prepared?! Not mine!

You do you.

Whether you go up and down each aisle of the store to find inspiration, or you have a numbered spreadsheet with meals planned out for the whole season, I bet you think you could do better. And I bet you’d be wrong! In fact, you are doing a great job.
Maybe this video gave you some ideas. That’s wonderful. My goal was to let you know that none of us are hitting a home run in the meal planning department every week. Don’t get discouraged. Get back on the horse for next week.

Go mom, go!

Actual meal plans from a terrific company

In August 2018 I went to a conference of amazing business owners and met Chef Ashley Shep. She is a chef based in Atlanta, GA. So, yes I told my Southern cousins about her.
And no matter where you live, you can benefit from her weekly meal plans including menus, grocery lists, and recipes for delicious things. Click here to see the meal plans for the next 2 weeks. $15 a week.
Happy cooking, y’all!

family, kitchen organizing, meal planning

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