Meal planning: save time, be healthy, stay happy

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Have you tried meal planning?

Just mentioning meal planning makes some mamas groan.  It can be a dirty word to the non-planner.  I’ve been there.  Being a mom with ADHD is brutal some days.  Meal times are a big part of that!  For years I heard, “Meal planning will save you…blah, blah, blah…”  No thanks.

I should have known better since all that I’ve overcome with my ADHD has been reliant upon planning and execution.  Maybe it was just my rebellion against yet another thing to plan.


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When and why I started meal planning

I did ok without meal planning before homeschooling.  Granted, I threw away a ton of fresh food some months.  Other months I ran out of money before I ran out of month and I had almost nothing I could pull together, despite cupboards full of random stuff.

If you're thinking meal planning has to be a pain, it totally doesn't! Plus the small investment of time really pays off over the course of the week! (organization, time saver)

 

To begin to save money and get exercise, my littlest one and I would walk to the store each day for the day’s needed items.  That kept me at least looking for what we had on hand.

When I began homeschooling, however, we were past the stroller phase and no longer had time to burn.  On top of all the mom chores, I now had hours of teaching to “squeeze in.”  I may have survived until then, but it was time for a change.


Meal Planning Made Simple

Starting out

I made calendars on my computer with recipes and kept a book of them on hand.  It worked out pretty well!  Despite investing an hour or two at the beginning of the month, I saved multiple hours surveying cupboards, fridge.  “What should I make for dinner?” was no longer my mantra.  When I’ve taken breaks from meal planning, I’ve seen even clearer the value in it.

Some tools to help you save some extra time in the kitchen:

Spiralizer 5-Blade Vegetable Slicer, Strongest & Heaviest Duty, Best Veggie Pasta Maker for Low Carb/Paleo/Gluten-Free Meals, With 3 Exclusive Recipe eBooksSpiralizer 5-Blade Vegetable Slicer, Strongest & Heaviest Duty, Best Veggie Pasta Maker for Low Carb/Paleo/Gluten-Free Meals, With 3 Exclusive Recipe eBooksHaloVa Cob Corn Stripper, Corn Stripping Tool, Creative Home Kitchen Corn Cob Cutter Corn Peeler Cob Remover Corn Shucker, PlasticHaloVa Cob Corn Stripper, Corn Stripping Tool, Creative Home Kitchen Corn Cob Cutter Corn Peeler Cob Remover Corn Shucker, PlasticInstant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer (Packaging May Vary)Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer (Packaging May Vary)

Benefits of meal planning

Besides the obvious benefits of saving time and money that I mentioned earlier, meal planning can help with a few other things.  First,  I don’t know about you, but when I’m pressed for time and all my meats are frozen, and I ran out of something I hadn’t realized…  I go for the easy button.  I pick the fastest, easiest option that will please everyone.  It may be tasty and fast, but it’s typically not too healthy either.

Second, it makes life easier for my kids.  When I post the calendar on our fridge, they can see what meal is coming up.  If it’s not a preferred meal, they can brace themselves. 😉  If it is something they love, they are filled with joy over it for the whole day.  I was afraid that posting it would cause a lot of whining about the meals they didn’t like, but it actually did the opposite.

If you're thinking meal planning has to be a pain, it totally doesn't! Plus the small investment of time really pays off over the course of the week!

They knew what to expect, and that was helpful.  They could see that even if they didn’t like 4 of the dinners, there were 26 of which they did like!  Tonight’s dinner was dad’s favorite, and one they hated?  They knew they could be excited about tomorrow’s dinner!

Finally, all of these benefits save a boat-load of stress they would have otherwise caused.  You’ve been living under a rock probably (I live there about half the time myself) if you haven’t heard all the recent findings of how bad stress is for your health.  This leads me to believe you’d be crazy NOT to give meal planning at least a shot!

What are my meal planning options?

  • I’m now using a paper planner I have from the Eat Clean Stay Sane meal planning course from Real Foodie FamilyPros: Sophie understands special diets and life as a busy mom.  The course teaches you how to meal plan to save extra time using a method similar (but different) to batching.  You can use all your own recipes taking multiple needs into consideration and there’s only a one time fee.  Cons: If you like digital everything, the planning uses printables.  I laminate for re-use.  You’ll need to write out your own shopping list as well.

 

  • You can go with an online planner like eMealsPros: They have a ton of different meal type options, and you can print out a shopping list to go with it.  A 14-day trial is also available.  Cons:  There’s a recurring fee, and the shopping list only accounts for your dinner ingredients.  It may still be worth it though in time savings each month, and the digital planning is great.

 

  • Printable calendars and excel also work awesome.  I used to use them to link to Pinterest recipes each month.  You can find some herePros: Free, who doesn’t love that?  No reason not to try it!  Cons: You may not save quite as much time, but it’s still a ton overall!

bloom daily planners Weekly Planning System Tear Off To Do Pad - 8.5bloom daily planners Weekly Planning System Tear Off To Do Pad – 8.5bloom daily planners Weekly Meal Planning Pad with Magnets - Tear Off Meal Planner with Perforated, Tear Off Shopping List - 6bloom daily planners Weekly Meal Planning Pad with Magnets – Tear Off Meal Planner with Perforated, Tear Off Shopping List – 6Magnetic Menu Dry Erase Weekly Meal Planner Refrigerator Board With Grocery List And Notes (Menu Blackboard)Magnetic Menu Dry Erase Weekly Meal Planner Refrigerator Board With Grocery List And Notes (Menu Blackboard)

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Finding Godly Contentment

Author: Jill C

Jill is a Christian, homeschooler, "boy mom", and special needs parent. Jill has ADHD and has learned firsthand how adapting environments can be key to finding success! Her current mission is to empower parents whose desire is to homeschool their special needs children and helping them squash their self-doubt!

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