Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Mommy Mental Health: Making a Weekly Meal Plan

When it comes to keeping on top of my weekly to do list. I’m no better than anyone else. Busy weeks at work, family functions, and everyday exhaustion can really wipe out any good intentions I had towards emptying the laundry basket. What I know to be true about myself, however, is that I fare way better when I have a plan than when I just wing it. I’ve spoke about that before here. Having just a basic outline about some of the important things to do really helps me to prioritize and conquer at least part of my list by keeping it front and center. I thought it might help some of you busy mamas to see my new plan of attack for dinner, and offer suggestions on ways to add just a little extra organization in to yours. 

The three things that clog up a to do list are; where do we have to go, what do we have to, and what’s for dinner. I like to start my plan there. Sunday night or Monday morning, I make a rough outline of what to eat each night. I’m not a batch cooker, or a culinary expert, so the meals are not fancy. I just aim to make balanced meals on a balanced budget. Start your meal plan before (making a list of needed ingredients) or after a grocery shop (taking in to account what you’ve bought.) A sample week might look like this:

Monday – Pork, mashed potatoes, and corn
Tuesday – Stew
Wednesday- Salmon and salad
Thursday – Breakfast meal of choice (omelets, French toast, sausages and home fries, whatever you like!)
Friday – Stir-fry with rice
Saturday – Family meal or Take out
Sunday – Tuna noodle casserole

It’s mapped out, it’s flexible, but it’s there. I don’t have to start thinking about it at 3pm. It’s based on ingredients in the house (that’s important). It’s also real, easy, weeknight stuff. Food that can be pulled off with limited time for those days when you’re exhausted. Knowing the kind of activities that get piled on certain days, plan your easiest meals on the worst schedule-wise. If you have a lighter day of the week, plan a special meal, or take on a bigger chunk of the housework to ease up the weekend. 

If you have trouble keeping a good meal variety, why not create some meal flashcards? Spend some time listing meals that you enjoy as a family with varying degrees of difficulty. Think up a few pastas, a few casseroles, a soup, a stew, a chili, some ways of cooking protein that can be paired with a seasonal vegetable, etc. Once you have approximately 20-30 that you’re comfortable preparing, write them each down on a recipe card, or strip of paper. Grab 5 and plot them in to the week in an order that makes sense, and if you go through them all before recycling any in to your list, you’ll have plenty of variety to get you started.  Every time you come up with a new amazing meal idea from a dinner at Mom’s or Pinterest, create a new card and add it to your pile!

If you experience a family emergency or other time consuming roadblock, and you will, don’t beat yourself up. We all have weeks where we don’t eat the healthiest, don’t cook the finest, or hardly have time to eat at all. Kids love simplicity. If you can scramble an egg, make a PB & J, or bake up some chicken nuggets, not only will they not suffer, but they will thank you for it!

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