Meal Planning and 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  years ago I decided to try monthly meal planning which was just one step to simplifying 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 always struggle with breakfasts and lunch.  Trying to plan for those just takes way more brain power than I am able to exert some weeks.  So when I sat down and began this meal plan a few years ago, 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 in 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 almost what I spend a week (anyone else notice that grocery prices have dramatically increased in the last year?)  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.

Disclaimer

This blog post is originally from 2016, not much has changed in our house except the fact that I have gotten out of meal planning.  I’ve decided to get back into it, as I am running a home business now, homeschooling, and have a few other things on my plate as well.

If you’re like me and need some inspiration check out this 1-week meal plan:

Monday       Breakfast – Pancakes (I found an awesome Paleo Pancake mix on Amazon that I will be purchasing more of).

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

Supper – French Toast (Meatless Mondays)

Tuesday       Breakfast – Eggs

Lunch – Taco Salad

Supper – Muffin Tin Pizzas (Tortilla Tuesday)

Wednesday  Breakfast – Oatmeal

Lunch – Tomato Soup (THM-S) with Almond Flour crackers

Supper – Sausage and Rice Cassarole (Web Wednesdays)

Thursday       Breakfast – Toast

Lunch – Sandwiches

Supper – Hamburgers  (Throwback Thursday)

Friday             Breakfast – Bagels

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

Supper – Chicken Wings (The blog post above that I took the ideas from called for Fancy Friday, but we eat our “fancy” meal on Sundays, so I made it Fun Friday – which is typically our easy, boxed “fun” food for the kids.)

Saturday         Breakfast – Cereal

Lunch – Mini Pizzas

Supper – Lasagna Soup (Soup Saturdays)

Sunday           Breakfast – Bagels

Lunch – Roast (Slow-Cooker Sunday)

Supper – Leftover Soup (We don’t usually eat supper on Sundays, it’s usually a free-for-all with snack foods like crackers and cheese, but sometimes I’ll eat left-overs because that just won’t hold me over to Monday).

How many of you all meal plan?  Have you ever tried a 30-day meal plan?  Meal plans do not have to be made 100% as written,  I often just move some things around from different weeks to accommodate what I need.

I am in love with meal plannng, however, and how much more simplified my life can be through planning.  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.

What do you think?  Does meal planning help you out?  Do you feel like it’s too much work to meal plan?  Or has it simplified your life and your budget to do so?

Amanda Cunningham

Amanda worked as a full-time school teacher for two years before getting married and having three 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 homeschools two of her three children

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