I love a good calendar, and a calendar with space for agenda items… you’ve won me over. With two little ones, school, activities, two working parents, and the constant need for snacks (it’s insane – I just don’t get it), I live for a fridge white board. [wow…I really need to lower my birthday gift budget for you…] To top it off, having four people in one house with eight different food preferences is not easy. I’m one lucky girl because I have a man [I think it’s weird when you call him that] who likes to cook and is good at it. I have no shame in saying I just cook to get by. I’d like to be a gourmet chef, but I own that I am better at other things. Therefore, my goal is to set us (aka him) up for success.
To help keep us all sane (and fed) we work off of the following formula in our home each week:
Plan | Prep | Organize | Enjoy
Planning here doesn’t mean determining what we’re going to eat each day, that’s not always realistic. You can’t force a toddler to eat tacos on Tuesday when you don’t even want tacos yourself. [I have never seen you turn down Taco Bell though] We all have preferences and tastes. Cue the beauty of the planning board!
Make a loose plan for the week – ordering/eating out two nights per week is something that our family enjoys, so that leaves five evenings to plan for. Of those five evenings, I’ll work through different options or cuisine types. Within those types of meals if you have a picky eater who will refuse to eat color [this was me as a kid, still prefer neutrals to greens], you plan ahead for that substitute.
If we know certain nights are more hectic, or we won’t have 30-45 minutes to make dinner, those become one of the easier meals we plan for. Determining that much is enough, then do your shopping based on that plan.
On top of this you have to plan for all the in-between meals that take place. Being in lockdown, our grocery bill exploded and apparently we need every single type of string cheese made. [Polly-O mozz for the win.] How to help plan for those snacks (meals) is a part of it too – keeping all of the items in stock is key. Jump to the ‘organize’ part of this process if you live off of snacks… I won’t judge.
I hate the phrase “meal prep”. It’s amazing in theory, but not possible for my schedule and life. [Yes! me too – mostly because I get lazy] I want to drink my wine and watch Bravo after the kids sleep – not grill chicken and make a salad for tomorrow. Prepping is making whatever you can ahead of time… or even putting frozen meat in the fridge the night before. BOOM you’ve prepped for the next day. If anything can be done quickly I try to do it before bedtime or I’ll make 100 excuses the next day and, before you know it, we’re ordering pizza. Meal prep doesn’t need to be a full day project, it can be a little time each evening before you settle in with your vino and WWHL.
Keep it simple. For me, the one constant prep I do is with fruit and kids snacks. We go through tons of fruit, so I will cut up all of the fruit and place it into clear containers in the fridge. Oranges go into a big hurricane jar on the dining table. With that, on the go snacks are now healthier and there are no excuses around cutting or peeling.
My fridge and pantry are a dream for someone as Type A as me. Thank you, The Home Edit – really, thank you. I’m in love with the aesthetic of clear bins and keeping all of my food in containers. It takes work, but it’s so worth it. Give me a day off and you’ll find me organizing. [hmm…interesting choice. You’ll find me on vacation] You can see what you have, what you’re running low on, or what you shouldn’t buy again because it gets wasted or eaten too quickly (**milano cookies**).
For the fridge, I keep kids snacks at the top so that the things they want are out of reach. They open the fridge and, before you know it, everything is gone and no one eats dinner because their tummies are full. Dairy gets a shelf, fruit gets a shelf, and all leftovers and meal prep items get a shelf as well. Keeping things organized makes cooking and prepping less stressful.
I swear by the rubbermaid brilliance tupperware. Glass looks great but I’m too clumsy to use it. [She breaks everything she touches] These are sturdy and clear so it fits the bill.
You did it! You planned and prepped for a week without spending your whole Sunday doing it. No one wants to lose those precious weekend hours, so the simple steps of just a general outline for the week will help. Jot them down on a white board, or even on your phone. When moods call for something – you’re ready for it. Food has been shopped for, recipes are 45 min or less, and you’ve got a happy family who is full!