The holidays are over and the decorations have been taken down. I always miss the beautiful lights of the Christmas tree when it’s gone, but I also appreciate the house being put back together. I love organization and order (although you wouldn’t know that if you saw my house)! With David and Ethan, I have had to learn to let go of that a little bit, although it’s not a battle that I’m done fighting. If I could just purge a whole bunch of stuff from this house, I would be so happy! There’s a certain serenity that comes to me with de-cluttering. It’s definitely an ongoing mission for me. (I did manage to unload some old Christmas decorations and clean out a desk drawer today! A little every day, I hope!)
With the holidays gone, it’s also back to meal planning for me. I’ve found a process that works for me and all it takes is a simple spiral notebook. In the beginning of the notebook, I have a list of the family favorites and my “go to” recipes, along with a reference to the location of the recipe (website, hard copy, cookbook & page number…). Behind that, I use one page for each week, and list Sunday through Saturday in the left column.
Each weekend I check the calendar on the fridge for any appointments or events during the week that might require a quick meal and note that on the corresponding days in the notebook. If there is a night that we need to eat out, that is noted also.
I then go through the list of recipes on the first page, as well as my stack of cookbooks, to sketch out what I will make on each day. Recipes that take a little more preparation time get slotted on the days when I think I will get out of work on time and when there are no nightly activities. As I note each recipe, I go through the ingredient list to see if I need to purchase anything. If I do, that goes on my grocery list.
Once the week is sketched out, I add any additional instructions (for example, if I have to soak beans or prep something the night before) and I’m done. I then rewrite my grocery list to sort like items, and I’m all set.
This has really been working well for me. It ensures I’m only shopping for what I need and that we have a healthy menu planned for the week.
I only do this for dinner meals. For breakfast, it’s typically fruit for me (with mixed nuts for a mid morning snack), pancakes or waffles for Ethan, and David fends for himself. For lunch, we usually have leftovers from another night. I also make sure I have some staples for quick lunches, in case there are no leftovers! Examples:
- organic natural peanut butter (that I will eat with an apple for lunch)
- chickpeas, so I can make hummus (I’ll eat in a pita/tortilla, with raw veggies, or with whole grain crackers)
- an array of veggies (I’ll eat a can of red beets or fresh cucumbers, pickled with apple cider vinegar… and no, this wouldn’t be the “only” thing I eat for the day. Since they are veggies, I’ll use these to supplement whatever else I take.)
- organic vegetarian soups (like Pacific’s black bean and kale)
- yams that I can quickly “bake” in the microwave
I hope this is helpful! I have found that planning is the key to success!
Family Meals (Croatia) (2012) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2273227/