Meal Planning–Simplifying Life

Meal Planning - simplifying meals

Have you ever gotten to a time in your life where you felt completely overwhelmed?  Even the simple act of deciding what to make for supper can send you over the edge some days.  Watching children, cleaning house, cooking meals, and keeping your mind don’t often go hand in hand.  A few weeks ago I knew something had to change in my life and so I started taking steps to simplify things so that I wasn’t getting to the end of my days wondering where my time had gone and why I was so exhausted.

The first step was to make a meal plan.  I am a meal plan type of person, although I haven’t always been.  I realized about a year ago how much more organized a meal plan made me.  I always struggled with breakfasts and lunch, though.  Trying to plan for those just took way more brain power than I was able to exert some weeks.  So when I sat down two weeks ago and began this meal plan I knew that planning for breakfast and lunch was necessary on my list.  That first hour out of bed is not my best time of day so having something on the fridge that I could just glance at and know, okay, this is what I’m doing now, would help me so much.  I also decided to plan for a whole 30 days.  Our grocery budget was killing me and every week I felt like crying after I left the grocery store.  Finding a way to pare it down was also a necessary for me.

Also, trying to eat the Trim Healthy Mama way (to an extent) means that I like to buy certain things that aren’t necessarily “necessary” (like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, almond flour, etc) and knowing they wouldn’t break my budget would make it easier to stay on plan.

So my necessary items for a meal plan were:

1. Planning breakfast and lunch

2. Cheap meals

3. A 30 day plan

4. Crockpot meals (get them ready mid-morning so my evenings are stress-free)

5. 90% THM (I’m not 100% on plan for various reasons but it works for me – for instance I made lasagna soup on the weekend with actual pasta not “fake” pasta, haha)

In my search for the perfect meals, I stumbled on to the blog, Food, Wine, and Poopy Diapers (I know, the name, right? haha – also, I have not checked out anything else on this blog other than the one post that I am sharing about and therefore can not endorse this blog fully.)  Kelli shares how she spent $60 a week (keep in mind this is American) for groceries for a month.  That’s $240 for the whole month.  That’s what I spend bi-weekly (which may still not seem like that much but is more than I am willing to spend right now).  However, knowing that $60 a week was not really attainable for me, I decided to take her ideas for planning daily meals and apply them and see how that affected my grocery budget.  I absolutely love her ideas for each day.  Check out the full post here.

So, my first week meal plan looked like this:

Monday       Breakfast – Leftover Pancakes (I have been making extra of most things I make which allows me to freeze some, cutting down on meal prep on other days.)

Lunch – Pasta (make extra and freeze for another day)

Supper – French Toast (Meatless Mondays) – make extra for Hubs to take for his lunch on Tuesday

Tuesday       Breakfast – Eggs

Lunch – Taco Salad (made extra for Hubs to take on Wed)

Supper – Muffin Tin Pizzas (Tortilla Tuesday)

Wednesday  Breakfast – Oatmeal

Lunch – Tomato Soup (THM-S) with Almond Flour crackers (pinterest recipe for the microwave)

Supper – Sausage and Rice Cassarole (Web Wednesdays) (Husband took leftovers for lunch on Thursday)

Thursday       Breakfast – Toast

Lunch – Sandwiches

Supper – Hamburgers  (Throwback Thursday) (Hubs took the last two for his lunch on Friday)

Friday             Breakfast – Bagels

Lunch – Pasta (the kids love it and it’s cheap so we eat it a lot)

Supper – Chicken Wings (I changed it up a bit from Kelli’s “Fancy Friday”  to “Fun Friday” because we always have our fancy meal on Sundays and Fridays are more of a fun meal for us which wings and fries fits the bill for.)

Saturday         Breakfast – Cereal

Lunch – Mini Pizzas

Supper – Lasagna Soup (Soup Saturdays)

Sunday           Breakfast – Bagels

Lunch – Roast (Slow-Cooker Sunday)

Supper – Leftover Soup (we usually have something after evening service and I’ll admit I’m the only one who had leftover soup.  The Lasagna Soup was a hit with me but not so much with the rest of the family.  Which is hilarious since last week I made a Hamburger soup that I thought was thoroughly disgusting and the Hubs thought it was great, lol.)

How many of you all meal plan?  Have you ever tried a 30-day meal plan?  We didn’t stick to the first week’s schedule completely, but for the most part I made everything as it was written and just moved some things around from different weeks to accommodate what I needed.  The best part of this meal plan is that the only extra meat I needed for the whole month was a bag of ground beef (about 5lbs worth) and a rotisserie chicken that I will get from Costco on the appropriate week.  Everything else is from my freezer.  I’m also utilizing pasta and rice which are super cheap food items.  My actual grocery bill came in a little cheaper than normal but not by much.  So I have yet to see if this is going to help in that area of not.

I am in love with this plan, however, and how much more simplified my life has become through planning this out.  I read a blog post once about how our life is made up of so many decisions that we really need to pare down what we have to think about so that we don’t put our brains into overdrive every day.  So far so good.  I’m excited to see how the rest of the month goes.  I do have an Epicure party next weekend which will mean extra on the grocery bill than what I had hoped to spend, but, this week’s grocery list is quite pared down compared to a normal week’s list so I am hoping it will still stay within the regular budgeted amount.  I’ll let you know at the end of November how this is working for me, but I have a feeling this is going to become a normal thing.  Some of the meals will change monthly as we figure out what our family likes to eat and what we don’t.

Amanda Cunningham

Amanda worked as a full-time school teacher for two years before getting married and having two wonderful kids.She blogs about faith, family, food, and fun.While crafting takes up a lot of her extra time, Amanda also strives to help others through ministry in her church and in the community.Amanda, also known as Mae, works as the church music director and is hoping to start tutoring and teaching music again in the days to come.

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