What has Meal Planning Ever Done for Me?

To continue the theme & mini-series of planning meals for my family of 8 {see the first post here}, I think it’s important to realize what exactly I have to accomplish when I am meal planning. I am really big on goals and deadlines and other various forms of guilt-tripping myself into actually doing this whole meal planning thing which I hate.

It is, in my opinion, absolutely not worth the trouble to go through all the hassle of meal planning if it’s not going to actually work for your family. Through the years, I’ve discovered that many great {and some fantastic} ideas, just do not work for me and my family. They are a waste of my time, not because they aren’t good or they don’t work, but because they don’t fit my family and our unique needs. Some of these include cooking once a month, shopping once a month, couponing {to the extreme}, and the like.

So, because I’m sure I am coming across as extremely picky {*sigh* sorry}, you may be wondering exactly what it is that I’m looking for when I plan out my family’s meals each month.

Meal Planning Guidelines

Here’s the Guidelines that shape my meal planning:

  • 1) It must be food we’ll eat.

This is one of those things that should be obvious, but isn’t really. In the quest to be the ‘perfect’ mom, I tend to get lost in the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect mom, and trying to shovel food down my kids’ mouths because someone online or in some book tells me that they must have it is probably one of the farthest things from being perfect, or even accomplishing my purposes. Through the years, I’ve realized there are just things that we are not going to eat: eggplant, black eyed peas, and chicken & rice fall into this category

  • 2) It must not use a ton of expensive ingredients.

We are the first to admit that we are a little bit of food snobs. We don’t like eating things that won’t go bad in a couple days, and we like food that’s a little bit out of the ordinary {my kids look forward to the occasional trip for sushi like it’s a trip to Chucky Cheese}. However, I just have a hard time adding meals to our list that have a single ingredient that’s going to cost me $5-$10 just for the one single thing. Expensive food hacks? Yes! Expensive food ingredients? No!

  • 3) It must suit our current dietary restrictions or goals.

Again, we’re just weird like that. For example, a couple of months ago, we eliminated all fried foods {for about 3 months}. I may be completely odd, but I firmly believe that what we put into our bodies will effect what we can get out of our bodies and this means that occasionally, we need to make some adjustments to what we will and won’t eat.

  • 4) It must take a reasonable amount of time to prepare.

My favorite meatball recipe is for Sweet & Sour Meatballs. I really don’t even like other meatballs. However, the recipe that I am so fond of requires approximately 4 hours to properly prepare. So… unfortunately, we don’t eat Sweet & Sour Meatballs very often! If it takes me longer than 45 minutes to prepare, I’m just not going to do it, regardless of how awesome it is.

  • 5) It has to allow me ‘I don’t feel like moving off the couch, much less cooking supper’ nights.

There are some days that my energy level is at negative 32% and I just don’t have cooking supper in me. I can’t always guarantee which days these days are going to be {yet one of the many downsides dealing with adrenal fatigue} so if I didn’t plan to allow for these nights, either we are going to end up eating popcorn and potato chips from the mom-and-pop store down the road, or my poor husband is going to be stuck making supper. {Neither of which is very healthy.} So- into the meal plan the inevitable ‘tired mommy’ nights must go!

I could probably make this list 2 or even 3 times as long, but I’ve discovered that it is important to work with your family and try to not be too, too limiting when it comes to what you intend to eat them. You also have to remember that just because a child doesn’t like one thing this month, or even this week, doesn’t mean that they will not discover that they like it later, if you keep offering it.

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What I’m Doing Today: {The Challenge}

{My grocery shopping date is Friday, so the goal is to be prepared before then! }Today, as part of my meal planning, I will be checking which holidays I will have to pay for during this next month. Then I am looking back over the last several months worth of meal plans and figuring out what was a huge hit and what was a flop. Then I’m going to ask the rest of my family if there are any special meals or foods they want to include {to have me make}, or make {for themselves}.

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