It’s 4:45 on a Monday afternoon. The day has been crazy! All Mondays are. You’re exhausted. The cold cereal for breakfast barely held you through ’till lunch. And the meat sticks and cheese hardly were enough to tame the beast within until dinner. Maybe that beast can be calmed with a bag of chips and a candy bar because you are starving and have no plan for dinner. Kids are getting hangrier by the minute and you need help fast!
With each passing year (and each new member added to our already busy little family), I am learning that the old adage holds true. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. My family can attest to this. My sweet husband would probably attest rather readily by the third round of pancakes in a week.
We are all busy in our own way with our own things. Jobs. Children. Home-Businesses. Church. School. Time gets away fast. If we do not carefully plan our time, we will waste much of it and miss many opportunities. Taking a few minutes each week to plan out your meals is the first step toward having a delicious healthy meal on the table every night. Food takes a high priority in our home. A very wise man once said that our food and medicine should be one and the same.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.” -Hippocrates
We have all seen bodies wrecked with disease due to malnutrition. It’s not just in Africa, my friend. Living solely on frankenfoods will kill you just the same. Tiny rant over. 🙂
Plan meals. Eat well. Be healthy. The end.
I know that in reality its not as easy as those eight little words. By nature I am an organizer. So a little part of me enjoys the process of planning. But when pressed for time, my systems usually fall by the wayside and we all end up hungry.
However, after trying several systems of meal-planning, I finally came up with something I have never seen done. And it works perfectly for me! It is so simple. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. It gives me a list for my weekly grocery trip. It reminds me to pull out frozen meat the night before. It tells me when I need to start prepping. And in some cases it solicits daddy to make dinner…the dinner I planned. The only thing it doesn’t actually do is cook dinner. Still trying to figure that one out.
So let’s get to it.
You only need a few items:
- index cards
- index card box
- magnetic photo holder
- grocery list
- favorite recipes
I already had everything except the magnetic photo holders. These are the ones I have. You can get yours HERE.
I keep thinking to myself, this is so simple! Ok, so here it is. Write one recipe on each card. I did not write out all of the recipes at once. I simply added new recipes each week as I cooked different meals. It is such a time saver having all my favorite recipes in ONE place! No more digging through cookbooks or surfing the web trying to find that amazing stir-fry recipe.
You’ll want to make a card for each meal, even the meals that seem too simple to deserve their own card. Remember, you might not be doing the cooking. If you need to pass of cooking for some reason, it will be much simpler with instructions all ready and visible.
I am a very visual person. I like clean lines, organization and color. White index cards work great, but I chose colorful ones. My brain just seems to assimilate the information quicker when it is color coded. Any pop-pchys out there want to tell me why?
So I made meal cards for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. This is my attempt at healthy eating for all of our meals. Yes, we eat cheerios for breakfast on occasion. I’m not the food police…although my kids might beg to differ. 🙂 But I do find that if I have a plan, we generally eat better and are happier and healthier.
I would like to add a note regarding breakfast and lunch. I only cook those once a week. I like to choose the least busy day, ideally at the beginning of the week, and make a big batch of baked oats or protein pancakes for breakfast. Then we have it to eat throughout the week. I do the same thing for lunch. My favorites to make are chicken salad and egg salad. Check back for those recipes!
Also on each card, I include special instructions. Defrost roast. Put ice cream bowl in the freezer. I make sure to highlight this on the card so I don’t forget anything crucial…because it is really sad when you whip up a batch of coconut vanilla ice-cream and you find the non-frozen bowl in the cabinet. *Sigh*
Then after the cards are ready, I simply slide them into the magnetic photo holders and slap’em on the fridge.
I rarely forget to pull meat out of the freezer any more. Why? Because I LOVE to snack before bed. And when I go digging for some deliciousness, I see my little cards. I think about what sounds good for tomorrow and then pull something out.
One last little tip. I have this deep need for variety in my life. Being a stay-at-home-mama, this manifest itself as new and exotic meals on every recipe card. If you are like me, resist the urge. Remember, we are busy! Making new foods every night requires time and energy. While meal planning, we always have the best intentions. But when cook time comes, we are often tired. So help yourself out and start with tried and true food with which you are familiar and you know your family loves. Then try one new recipe a week. Trust me. It will be more than enough!
Now go get out there and cook up some deliciousness! 🙂 🙂 🙂