Kids: “Mom, what’s for supper?”
Me: *shuffling through fridge and pantry in a slight panic*
This was me ALL. THE. TIME. After my husband and I had our first child, it was a bit of a reality check to actually have to plan out meals ahead of time. We couldn’t just go to the grocery store or out to a restaurant on a whim anymore. After we were through the brain fog of the newborn stage, I got myself organized. I am not claiming to be an expert in meal planning, but here are some tips and tricks that can hopefully help you with meal planning for your busy week.
Organize Your Thoughts
I am an old-fashioned type of gal, so I grab a pen and paper. I write out the next six days in a row (i.e. if it is Tuesday, I write down Tuesday through Sunday). Then I start writing down my essentials such as milk, bread, eggs, and fruit in a column below the days of the week.
Next, I think about what my week ahead brings. Do we have something going on one night? Is there a late meeting? If so, I plan an “easy” meal for those nights. In our household, my husband and youngest child are lactose sensitive, so everything I prepare is lactose-free (which is very hard for this dairy-loving mom). Our “go-to” meals include burgers, tacos, sloppy joes, chicken and dumpling soup, and roast, to name a few.
Another option is to categorize a meal type on each day, such as Monday as Crock-Pot night, Tuesday as leftover night, Wednesday as breakfast-for-dinner night, and so on. Having Crock-Pot night on Monday is helpful because you can prep a lot of it on Sunday. That way, on Monday morning you can throw it into the Crock-Pot before you walk out the door. In the summer, I usually swap out the Crock-Pot night for grilling because, well, SUMMER!
Grocery Shopping In-Store
I have three kids under the age of four, so every grocery trip is like an Olympic sport. There is usually some running, someone getting hurt, and some sweating. For example, I tried to be the “cool” mom by letting my kiddos ride in one of those “car carts”. Have you ever tried pushing one of those? If not, let me tell you it’s not easy. I’m struggling to maneuver this beast of a cart down the aisles while my two oldest kids are telling people to “move” because they are in a fire truck and their mom is in a hurry. Side note: make sure you always buckle your kids in or else they may decide to bail out of the cart while half-way jogging through the store (*facepalm*).
I am a type-A person, so while I am preparing for my grocery shopping experience, I write my grocery list in the order of how the store is laid out. For example, produce is first, then the deli, bakery, bread aisle, and so on. This may seem a bit excessive, but taking the extra five minutes to do this makes it go SO much faster.
Miracle of Online Shopping
One way to save yourself all of this hassle is to grab a glass of wine and order your groceries online. It is LIFE CHANGING. Personally, I like doing drive-up because it doesn’t cost anything extra. I have also done delivery, but it does come with some type of extra fee (most of the time it is extremely worth it though). Even though I don’t have to drag three kiddos into a grocery store, I have found two downfalls with online shopping: First, sometimes when I try to order groceries for delivery, I may not be able to get them that same day. Second, someone else picks your produce, so you may not get the best pick of the bunch.
Putting it All Together
Getting groceries shouldn’t be stressful. Remember to try to take five or ten minutes a week and organize your thoughts. It will make this part of your already hectic life a little less chaotic. Whether you decide to go to the store, order them online, or decide to swing through a drive-thru because it has been one of “those days”, just remember you are doing a great job, mama!