Meal Planning For The Busy Family

 

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I’d like to introduce a guest on the blog today–Liz Hayes.  Liz is my Mother-In-Law and friend.  She has many talents, like quilting and swinging a nine-iron, but where I have learned the most from Liz is in the kitchen.  Liz is who I call if I have a question about the best way to make gravy for a Thanksgiving meal, or if a food item can be frozen and still resemble its former self when thawed.  Which is why I do not hesitate to have her share some of her wisdom with all of us here on GracefullHome.  Here she teaches what she did for meal planning as a busy working mom of two:

 
My daughter-in-law, Amy, has graciously invited me to share some space in her blog.  I really enjoyed her recent blog dealing with chores and budgets.  I have been trying to figure out how the chore system might work with my husband.  I can probably guess what his “payment” might entail!
I do want to fully endorse using a budget system.  We embraced the cash envelope/allotment sheet budget 35+ years ago.  At that time we had credit cards with Sears, Penney’s, gas companies and Master Card – all with revolving balances.  We eventually paid them all off and have kept it that way.  Now we use Visa 99% of the time and pay it off every month – no exceptions!  We are retired and entered retirement with two fairly new cars paid for and no debt other than our mortgage.  We actually have a tighter budget in retirement, but we still travel and entertain quite a lot.  Things still happen that upset balances, liked having to replace the house A/C last summer, but the framework holds.

I know that many of you are in the midst of raising a family.  Some of you may also be working full time as well.  Life is hectic with all the different schedules and energy is often lacking.  Laundry, grocery shopping and meal planning and preparation never seems to end!  I understand, I was there once too, and you could have written the grocery list in the dust on just about any surface in my house.  I would like to share a stress reliever in meal planning I utilized at that time.  I still use it today when I am expecting houseguests.

1. Every other Sunday afternoon I would plan the meals for two weeks.  I would plan 10-12 meals since there would be the inevitable crazy night of grabbing fast food or a pizza.  A few of those meals might be assigned to a particular day but mostly they were free flowing and the list was posted on the side of the refrigerator so I could just wake up and pick a meal for dinner that evening.

2.  I would do the major shopping once every two weeks only returning to the store for milk, bread and produce.  This meant if the kids consumed all the granola bars the first week, I didn’t replace them until it was time to go shopping again.  Since I made my list on Sunday, I would typically grocery shop on Monday after work.

3,  In the morning, before I left for work, I would take a look at the list and then take the necessary ingredient(s) out of the freezer and leave them to thaw in the sink.   (I know – so unhealthy – but we all survived!)  An hour of planning twice a month took away the daily stress!

You know what meals your family likes and what you typically prepare and serve.  Start making a list and keeping it on your phone or computer.  Use categories like, meals, desserts, salads, appetizers etc.  When planning, look at the list and make choices or simply keep the same rotation.

Make everyone in the family share the responsibility for adding items to the shopping list.  When they use the end of something or run out of their shampoo, it is their responsibility to add it to the list.  I highly recommend the Apple app Grocery IQ, it can be synced to everyone’s phone and you can make separate lists for Costco, King Soopers, Home Depot etc.

Below is the list I used so many years ago.  I’m sure Jonathan and Jennifer will recognize many of these menus.

 

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In case you can’t read this, here are a few on the list:

Hawaiian Chicken, Hamburgers, Lasagna, Spaghetti, Meatloaf, Chicken Divan, Beef and Rice, Mac and Cheese

Ask your family what their favorites are and make your own list!

Excuses

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Hello! How is your new year going so far?  How are those resolutions progressing?  I had made a few–one of them being to make more creative and different meals.  I signed up for something called E-MEALS.  There was a Groupon offered and I thought it would be a good way for me grab some fresh new recipes to help with my resolution.  So far I have made one meal off the new list, but hey, it’s a start!

Here are my excuses–we went on vacation for about a week-no cooking there.  My husband has been traveling before and after our vacation and I don’t cook new or elaborate meals for the kids and myself (if it bombs, at least Jonathan will eat it so don’t want to take the risk when he is not present at the table).  And finally, I am trying to use all the food we already have in the freezer before I start stuffing it with new bags of chicken breasts and frozen waffles.   But, I am excited for the recipe list to pop in to my email this week to press onward!

Excuses aren’t really a bad thing.  They are just reality sometimes.  However, when the excuses continue to push back the goals you have set for yourself, it’s time to evaluate two things.

ONE, are you avoiding accomplishing something hard but rewarding by continuing the same behaviors over and over?  In other words, if you don’t act differently in some way, you will never move toward your new goal.  I started a new financial program this year which I will share in another post soon, but it required me to change my patterns and thinking in 2014.  I am now doing some things differently than I was before.  But, when the change is challenging, we often push our timeline of success just far enough in front of us to sabotage our efforts. Our thinking looks like this: “I’ll get to it next week when I have more time, money, energy, etc. ”

TRUTH: To reach your goals you must do things differently, today, even if they are uncomfortable.

TWO, are your goals not completely lined up with your heart?  For example, if I really didn’t want to change how I cooked for my family but just plowed forward with forcing myself to be different, I probably would never be successful.  The excuses would continue week after week.  For me, I really do want to continue to expand my ability to cook and have my family try new things, so my goals are lined up with my heart, and hopefully I will be successful!

I just had a talk with my oldest daughter today about her goals for playing golf this season with her high school team.  She is not sure she wants to continue with this sport, and has some other great opportunities knocking at her door.  I encouraged her to pray about it, but not to continue with golf just to please us or because she feels guilty about quitting–she will only be pursuing the goal for the wrong reasons, and will most likely not successful in the end.

TRUTH: When you set unrealistic goals, or ones that don’t line up with your true heart, you will either not be successful, or be unhappy in the process.  Change toward a goal should feel rewarding, even if it is difficult.

As you re-evaluate some of the goals you maybe set for yourself this year, give yourself grace, but walk in the truth that God can give you the strength to grow and change if you want it.

Blessings!

Amy

Next Post: Spiritual Resolutions for the New Year.

 

 

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