Again with the meal planning.

I’m still trying to get a handle on this, a a meal planning system that works for us. Now that I have 4 people to please, I want to try and keep it simple, healthy, and make stuff everyone will actually LIKE and EAT. I also genuinely enjoy cooking most of the time. It brings me pleasure, I do wish I had more time for it, and that it didn’t necessarily feel like a chore to squeeze in so we could shove some food down our gullets.

We all have our childhood favorites– meals that we’d have over and over that bring back fond memories. I’d like that for my boys, rather than frustrations at the table. At the same time, I also want them to occasionally try new things. But I’ve decided that I’m ok with mostly making the same thing over and over.

Some childhood memory meals of mine include:

  • macaroni with meat sauce (spiced with fennel seed which gave a unique flavor)
  • baked chicken
  • chicken and rice casserole
  • pork chops
  • fish sticks
  • meatloaf, god I loved meatloaf
  • spaghetti and meatballs

Sides included: ‘candied’ carrots, broccoli drowning in cheese sauce, potato patties, applesauce, sweet potatoes, corn…

There were other items, too, but those were my favorites and meals I recall having again and again.

Since I’ve recently been transitioning to a fully vegan diet, I’ve been trying out a lot of new recipes. This is hit or miss, and when it’s a miss, that means I am the one trying to eat a whole lentil loaf within a week. There is also, of course, the time issue. Working full time + kids + rest of life means that carving out time for meal prep is challenging. When I’m on the ball, I can do some prep before bed or in the morning while we’re all starting the day. When I’m not, that means frozen veggie burgers and frozen veg for dinner (which honestly, is pretty much how we survived Leo’s first year!).

So, in an effort to be more on the ball with meal planning, I am attempting to sort out our favorite meals and come up with some sort of schedule. 

Maybe something like:

  • Sunday: pasta/noodle dish (spaghetti, mac n’ cheez, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, etc)
  • Monday: rice dish (rice and curry, stir fry with rice, beans and rice)
  • Wednesday: tortilla (fajitas, burritos, ‘mexican lasagna’)
  • Thursday: soup/salad/sandwich day (any 1 – 3)
  • Friday: pizza night

I know I’m not going cook every day, so I think even 5 nights is plenty. We can have leftovers sometimes, and I also like to take leftovers for lunch at work which saves me a lot of money and plastic waste. I’ll also go nuts and throw in an occasional wild card recipe.

Now, I can fill in a few recipes under each category that I know we like. Hopefully, this will increase our home cooking and healthful eating, and decrease whining. Win-win!

Please share what works for you, or your favorite recipes! How do they compare with the meals you grew up with?

Wish me luck!

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5 Responses to Again with the meal planning.

  1. ayisha says:

    Our little nest is just starting this project of meal planning (as our little one just turned 1 and we are expecting #2 in July) but it quickly is becoming a big question at the beginning of the week. What are we going to eat for dinner this week? Sometime I am daunted by the task, sometimes I feel like a clever traveler; resourceful, economical and fun. Here are some of the ‘meals’ that have worked (or are working).

    Ps- We currently have no dietary restrictions.

    Chicken-
    I will put a whole chicken in the croc pot with only salt and pepper and basic seasonings and let it go low and slow for 5 hours. The end result (consistently) is an incredibly moist and fully cooked (as a novice cooked I fear uncooked chx more than anything else) whole chicken that will last us through the week. For the first meal, we will have simple ‘roasted chx’ with some sort of starch and green. Then I will pull all the meat off of it and make enchiladas, curry chx salad, lots of chx sandos, chx tacos, chx lime tortilla soup.

    Turkey Meatloaf
    I though meatloaf was a thing of the past– but I quickly realized that I need friendly finger food for the little one. This go to recipe uses quinoa, meat, veggies and bake. Straightforward, clean and simple– baby loves.

    Brown/Wild Rice pilaf:
    I will make a big batch and then use it a multiple of ways through out the week. My favorite is with a friend egg and cheese on top.

  2. codeterra says:

    As a mom of 3 young ones, I too struggle with meal planning. I am currently working on a web tool that helps me make it easier. Try it if you like (currently in Beta), I would love to know if it helps you and your family :) mealspring.com

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