Meal Planning For Those Who Hate It

I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate meal planning. Wait, I don’t think that was enough hates… Oh, well. This is actually one reason why I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom (yeah, life loves to laugh at me). I don’t know how my mom did it. I remember finding her standing in the kitchen, staring into the freezer. No way did I want that to be me.

Fast forward 15 years. I’m a stay at home mom who has to plan meals and snacks for 4 people. So not what I want to be doing…

I am dreadful at meal planning. On Thursdays, I ask my husband what he wants to eat next week, praying he has a good idea. If I’m lucky I have an idea by Friday night. Usually, we stand in the market on Saturday mornings and wonder what we’re cooking. Yeah, so not good at this.

Luckily, I’ve developed a system, of sorts, that mostly works.

  1. Make 2 lists. One list holds every dish my husband and I make. These are tried and true and are usually well-received. The second list holds the recipes we would like to try one day. This way we have a go-to place to start, a place where we can peruse the recipes and decide what we want to eat. Though, whether we achy do this may or may not happen…
  2. Keep a stocked cooking shelf. Make sure you have the spices and cooking basics that you use the most. We always have ground ginger, garlic powder, Adobo seasoning, basil, oregano, cumin, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oil, olive oil, tomato sauce, and coconut milk on hand. It’s what we use the most and they’re easy enough to experiment with.
  3. Buy the produce you use the most. We are a bell pepper loving family, so when we don’t know what we’re cooking, we always buy peppers. Even if we don’t use them, we can always slice them and munch or sautee them.
  4. Cook dishes that make a lot of servings or double recipes. Cooking a lot of food at one time can actually save time. See below. I come from a family of 5, so my mom’s recipes make a lot of food. Just because I have a smaller family doesn’t mean I make less. It just means…
  5. The freezer is your friend. Freeze the extra! Portion them out. Freeze half. Just get some of it in the freezer and you’ll always have food on hand. Just defrost and heat. If you make a lot of food over a week or two and freeze some, eventually you just have to take something out of the freezer.
  6. Be like my husband and enjoy the same thing for two or three days (AKA leftovers). My husband loves eating the exact same thing day after day. I try to cap it at two days. Which means I don’t have to plan meals for every night of the week! Just 3-4.

This is how I survive meal planning. Or, really, how I get around meal planning. As I write this, I’m pretty sure I only have to cook once next week, if that! Bring on the extra play time with the kids!

Note to self: take something out of the freezer.

Do you plan meals or do you wing it? What are some of your tips?


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