Raise your hand if you sometimes dread making dinner! *Raises hand* Man, I feel like I had my shit together way more when I was a working mama. I think a lot of the struggles I have with being a SAHM is that everyday is like ‘Groundhog Day’. Day of the week? Unless it’s Friday I have no idea. Actual date? Haha, unless there’s a doctors appointment or a Birthday I honestly don’t have a clue.
What I’ve learned in the last year of staying home with the girls is that without a plan, even a loose plan–I fail. I fail HARD. The days of spontaneity have long since passed considering I have to psych myself up just to get everyone out of the house with shoes on with minimal crying at this point and meal planning is no different. I mean, who knew that dinner was an everyday thing?
I cook dinner about 5-6 nights per week–always leaving room for a family dinner at my parent’s house and good ol’ Pizza Hut most weeks–let’s be honest. I cannot tell you the amount of times Adam has called me on his way home from work and I looked at the clock saying “CRAP. How is it 5’oclock!?” and scrambling to throw something together while missing 1-2 ingredients every.single.time. Witching hour is NO freaking JOKE and it always corresponds with dinner-making time. I also was regrettably throwing food away that I would buy at the store on a whim without having a plan for it and it inevitably went bad.
This is where meal planning has saved me. I am able to map out the week ahead (and sort of remember which day is which 😉 ) and get dinner made during the craziest time of day for us–and I’m saving money by shopping for what I need instead of what looks good while apocalypse-style shopping with 3 kids on an empty stomach.
Here’s our dinner plan for the upcoming week:
(Wednesday’s recipe is here and MAN, It’s So. Good.)
As you can see, I only plan dinners. Breakfasts and lunches are usually pretty easy for us to throw together with what we have in the fridge so I don’t plan those out ahead of time but I’m sure that will all change when Charlie starts Kindergarten in the Fall (already crying about it, hi).
Tuesdays and Thursdays are typically our busier days. I try and squeeze in all appointments and errands on those days because that’s when Charlie has Preschool and we are up early and out of the house anyways. That being said, I don’t do very time consuming meals on those days because typically they are my whirlwind days. I’ll usually do a one-pot meal or a casserole because I can throw it in while taking care of everything I didn’t get done around the house while we were out most of the day.
The other nights of the week I can typically prep a few things throughout the day and have them ready to go by the time I need to start dinner. I’ll usually cut veggies, marinate meat, measure out spices in ramekins and put them all on a rimmed baking sheet in the fridge until I’m ready to go. It helps keep things organized and helps make cooking go smoothly during crunch time (especially when your 4-year-old is screaming that your 2-year-old took her milk cup or your baby won’t let you put her down so you’re cooking with one hand—anyone else?!). It also makes me feel like a pseudo Chef with my mise en place on point, just sayin’.
These days can be interchangeable–maybe one day Adam had a Mexican food lunch with a co-worker and he’s not up for taco night or maybe I’m waving a white flag of misery from being home with cranky kids all day and we sub in some Hut–but knowing the meals that I have ingredients for the week make things so much easier for me. I don’t buy much packaged food but I have a quick standby meal in the freezer at all times: Trader Joe’s fried rice and potstickers. So easy to throw together in a pinch and Dinner is ready in 20 minutes.
This is what works for us. And I promise this was not sponsored by Pizza Hut but I welcome that sponsorship with open arms 😉 It’s no Aurelio’s but who am I to turn down those breadsticks and a night of no dishes?
What are some of your go-to meals? Do you have a plan every week or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person? No judgement here.
Happy Monday, friends!