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I have found in recent years that I have a love-hate relationship with meal planning. I love having the order of a plan, but I hate making the plan. Though I may not like doing the plan, I have learned that meal planning really does help our budget. So I have learned to keep meal planning simple so we save more money.
If you are a Mom, you can probably relate to this, I have to do all the menu planning and shopping and cooking. Frankly, it gets old and I have found that I have a woe is me attitude before long and I stop menu planning and just wing it with food choices. This means I’m not sticking to a budget and dining out is more frequent.
The results of my pity party are added weight and a LOT of dining out. Because I just don’t want to cook.
That is the cycle at my house. Since my husband travels he doesn’t know what I go through during the week carting my kids from activities and piano and youth group. By the end of the week, I just don’t want to think about dinner. I really want someone to take care of me.
Have you been there? Maybe you are there right now. I just want you to know you are not alone and I am here to help you and support you.
Keep Meal Planning Simple
Despite being the one who has to do all the things with meal planning, it has to be done. When I am in a rut and I need to get back on track these are the steps I take.
I have learned that when I have new recipes that I LOVE that I am more consistent with cooking. When I’m in a rut I almost always look for a new recipe on Pinterest. Or I will put out an SOS on Facebook to my friends asking for recipe ideas.
The change of the seasons helps too. That means it’s grilling season. I love grilled food and it always tastes sooo good!
I created a Menu Planner Printable that you can download instantly by filling out this form:
I don’t know about you, but freezer meals are my LIFE! When I struggle with meal planning and cooking, then I know that I need to make some freezer meals to get my life back on track. Freezer meals are awesome and they keep meal planning simple.
If you haven’t done freezer meals before, there are 2 ways to make them. You can do an all day cooking session where you make the meals ahead of time and then freeze them when they are half cooked or fully cooked.
The other way, which is the way I do them, is to combine all the ingredients into a freezer bag and then throw it in the freezer to cook later. These meals can be cooked in all different ways. They can be cooked in the crockpot, or on the stove top, baked in the oven or even on the grill. It all depends how you want to cook them.
I love making this kind of freezer meals because they really don’t take that long to make. Start to finish it probably takes about 6 hours. That includes finding the recipes, making the grocery list, shopping (which I am in LOVE with ordering my groceries online and just picking them up hello time saver!) and then assembling the recipes and throwing them in my freezer. Just so you know, the day I make freezer recipes are ALWAYS a pizza night because I just can not look at food anymore that day!
If you are looking for freezer meals, I LOVE the recipes from Once a Month Meals. I love using their site because they allow me to use the recipes and then when I have my list all organized, they will give me a grocery list and the instructions on how to make the meals, plus labels. I LOVE LOVE LOVE their site! It has truly helped how I organize my freezer cooking sessions and I can not say enough good things about it.
Dinner time is important
So in my haze of self-pity, I started asking myself why dinner time was so important. It’s important to build those relationships with your children. They learn to communicate during dinner time. They learn how to stop and listen to what the other person is saying. Dinner time allows the family to bond and develops a safe place to communicate.
Also, cooking a meal from scratch or from a freezer meal, allows children to learn about cooking. Generally, when a meal is prepared at home it is healthier, it has less fat, and there is usually less waste. Cooking at home you can serve the vegetables that your children are going to eat.
Be sure and click on the link below and check out my recommendations page! It’s great for menu planning and meal prepping for the week.
I started making the kids help prepare the meals for dinner. When the kids are engaged and peeling potatoes or a cucumber they are more likely to eat them. I have also found that they LIKE to help and learn how to cook.
During the time they are helping, I have also found that teaching my kids how to cook has helped me to enjoy cooking more. I really like having my kids in the kitchen with me helping.
Now that my freezer is stocked and my meal plan is ready, I just have to keep it simple when my husband travels. I have learned it is okay to have leftovers and easy meals when he is gone.
My meal plan is so important to keep us on task with our budget. When I stray from the meal plan, I have learned that I spend way more on food. Especially dining out. Freezer meals are essential for me to keep on task with my meal plan.
If you haven’t already clicked through to Once a Month Meals, I highly recommend you do. Click over and get a free freezer meal plan sent to your inbox. I promise it is a great way to start your journey with freezer meals.
My challenge for you this week is to create your simple meal plan. It doesn’t take that long to create and keep meal planning simple. I make mine on a post-it note and it usually has the meat, veggie, and starch next to the day of the week. I keep it as simple as possible because then it will get followed. Don’t forget to go a sign up for Once a Month Meals so you can make some freezer meals for next week too!
I would love to hear from you and how you keep meal planning simple! Sign up for my newsletter below and let me know what you think of freezer meals! Looking forward to hearing from you! Don’t forget! I created a Menu Planner Printable that you can download instantly by filling out this form:
Stephanie Joseph has been blogging at Sticky Note Mom for 4 years. Before starting her blog she worked in the finance industry working on the floor of the Chicago Board of trade to working for major financial institutions with personal financial planning and the mortgage industry. Now she shares all she has learned about frugal living to help others learn how to stop spending and start saving more.