One thing I’ve mastered since moving out on my own is organizing my meals and food prep. It helps that I enjoy cooking, I think, but that doesn’t mean trying to make meals on weeknights is super fun for me 😛 So, over the years, especially the last couple with Evan around, I think I’ve put together a really great system.
First, I keep a spreadsheet of every meal we like and categorize them (chicken, beef, veggie, breakfast, etc.). That way, when I get to making the grocery list (see below), I have go-to ideas and don’t have to come up with things on the spot.
Second, I plan our meals out for the week. I choose a dinner for every night of the week. Saturday and Sundays tend to be more involved. Monday-Thursdays usually consist of 1 chicken, 1 beef, and 2 veggie meals. I don’t commit a certain meal to a specific day, but just choose from the 4 (this is in case we don’t really feel like a particular meal one day). I shoot to have all these meals have leftovers for lunches for myself and DH the next day. Friday is my easy night – that means either take-out (from our pre-approved list of favourites) or something like individual pizzas, pancakes, or home-made chicken wings.
Third, I write out a grocery list. I go through all the meals I planned and make sure we have everything for them. I then make sure we stock up on breakfast stuff (cereal, bread, milk, fruit), and things for snacks and lunch fillers (fruit, yogurt, granola bars, crackers, cheese, etc.). I also get things like lunch meat or frozen meals (for DH) in case we don’t have enough left overs for lunch. Finally, I add toiletries and other household things to the list. DH then goes grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, and we aim for that to be the only time we hit the grocery store that week. Sometimes we have to make extra trips, but that can be done quick by me with Carter in tow, or by DH on his way home from work.
Finally, I always try to have some basics on hand in case we run out, forget it at the store, or don’t want a particular meal. We keep our deep freezer stocked with chicken breasts/wings, ground beef, sausages, beef roasts, and pork tenderloin. We always have pasta in the pantry, or stuff to make pancakes/waffles (the no fail meal!),
I’m thinking, over the next while, I might share some of my easy go-to weekday meals, because I know I’m always looking for ideas, and that’s the time a lot of us get stuck.
What kinds of things do you do to make meal time go a bit smoother?