Saturday, September 19, 2015

Back-to-School Series: Meal Planning [Dinner]

Whether you have a baby at home or a teenager, you're a working mom or a SAHM....
dinnertime can be difficult! It's hard to plan for, it's hard to cook something everyone likes, and it's hard to find a convenient time for everyone to sit down and have a nice meal.
 
In this day & age, I know most families don't have a sit-down dinner together every night. But, I'm one of those old-school moms that believes this is really important, and we do it as much as our schedules allow. My kids have evening activities like gymnastics & karate, and my husband teaches evening classes every Fall semester, so I get it. It's not easy. But I think it's important to try to have a nice meal for everyone, to talk about your day and to connect. (I get that from my mom I think....she was a working mom of 3 busy girls - with a husband that had a long commute each day - and somehow she cooked almost every single night of my childhood. Basically, she is my hero!) Now, I'm no gourmet cook, and neither was my mom. I don't think it's important how fancy the meal is, just that your family is all together.
 
Ok, off my soapbox now.....
 
I have a very simple approach to meal planning. Every Friday night, I make our grocery list and then I go shopping early Saturday morning for our weekly groceries. I plan for 4-5 meals, 1-2 leftover meals, and then my husband usually cooks on Sundays (I'm lucky, I know!) I think by buying groceries for the week it saves both time and $$, because you're not running to the store every other day.
 
Here is my meal planning list, which is just a simple magnetic pad stuck to the side of our fridge:

I have a calendar right next to it so I can see what time my son has karate and on what day, when my husband teaches, if I have book club that week, or if there are any other evening activities that will affect our dinnertime.
This is the system that works for me, but I understand that every family is different. The key is
1). to plan ahead and
2). to do so by finding the method that works for you!
 
Here are some fabulous tips on meal planning. I couldn't have said it better myself
(so I didn't even try)! :)
{Source}
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Personally, I use the crockpot often, and it is a lifesaver. Check out this site and also the one below (from one of my favorite bloggers!) for some delicious crockpot recipes:
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I also have a few friends who rave about "freezer cooking." I have never done this, but I think it's a fantastic idea, and who better to get advice from that then this woman!?

...The Pioneer Woman!!! She is a fabulous cook & blogger, and she gives some great tips in this post. Until I read it, I never would have thought to cook large batches of grilled chicken or ground beef and freeze in individual serving sizes. Brilliant!
 
Like mentioned earlier, I'm a self-proclaimed old-school mom. For example - I still like writing my grocery lists down with paper & pencil. That being said, I know there are many of you out there that are much more tech-savvy than me, and for those people, I think a digital meal planning method is the way to go. Check out the app called Gathered Table; it has customized weekly meal plans and grocery lists.

 
Last but not least.....I love me a good printable. Especially when it's free! There are oodles of them on Pinterest, but here is one that caught my eye. I love that it has a space for not only your weekly meals, but your grocery list too.


{Source}
How do you meal plan? What is your favorite crockpot recipe?
Comment below and let me know! :)

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