I will be honest, I am not very good at meal planning. Maybe that is why I despise it. The week always goes ten times better when I at least have a guideline though. I have searched and attempted to use countless meal planning printables and apps. We cook ahead food at one time for leftovers and so far, nothing has worked except for something I drew out on plain paper one Sunday night.
planning gone wrong
Organizing is one of my favorite things to do. One would think meal planning would rank right up there as a form of organizing so I should love it. The problem is my perfectionism really gets in the way. In my mind, there has to be ample time to prepare it and then it has to be followed exactly as written 100%. We all know, this is not reality, but adapting to change is also not a strong point of mine.
The biggest obstacle was acknowledging that the plan was going to change - sickness, appointments, random anythings come up and the plan has to change. But not only that, I have to change with the plan. I have also learned that I don't have to have an elaborate meal or recipe to feed my family. And the amount of leftovers we have sometimes almost gives us too many options and can be overwhelming.
Why printables and apps have not worked for us
I have come a long way in accepting change and learning to embrace it better, but most of the meal planning apps and printables I have tried have not worked for us. What I want is to have all of the recipes and meals we already know and love put into an electronic form. But not only that, they would need to work together with new recipes from sites as we add them. Using the recipes, a shopping list and pantry list would work together to help in grocery shopping and also budgeting.
I've started several times putting a small database together in Excel (I'm an excel junkie) but the time factor takes over. **If you are a developer/programmer and want to work with me on some ideas - please contact me!! I would love to work with you!**
After attempting to use several printables, it's been easier to understand what doesn't work for us and what we do need. Since I stay at home, we need meals planned for breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes snacks, seven days a week. We attempt to eat enough protein, fat and fiber at each meal so that snacks are not necessary, but that doesn't always happen and growth spurts happen. We just don't plan for or have snacks every day. There also had to be a way to account for all the leftovers and the ability for options.
Making my own printable
One night I randomly scratched down a loose meal plan for the week and included all three meals. Since we like to cook ahead for several meals, all the leftovers was partly what has stumped me. I never knew where to put them. What helped was having along the side of the weekly plan, all of the food in the refrigerator that was cooked to help keep food from going to waste.
Having all of the food available really helps when plans change and helps me know when we need to cook more. I threw together an electronic version this week. It still needs some work, but I wanted to share what seems to be working for us (when I do it that is).
My husband is really good at helping (in all areas really), especially with cooking. He enjoys cooking and trying new recipes - as long as he picks them out. ;) This week, he put chicken in the refrigerator to thaw. I used the bottom of the meal planner to list items we had that would need to be cooked this week.
I started making the plan in blue ink. It's not all filled out because I'm not sure yet what we will have, but this is a visual for me to be thinking about when I need to have something ready. The pink is how we have used the plan already this week and changes made.
Please don't judge the food choices
If you actually read the food, you will see items that I would not consider the healthiest options. Chicken pot pie, crunchy chicken (panko crusted), burritos, etc. all have wheat flour and essentially raise blood sugar. I know this. We are not back to paleo or clean eating by my standards. Our focus now is to cook at home.
We REALLY like to eat out. We are much better at eating at home now, but with the baby just under two, it's still a rat race getting meals cooked. So success for us is cooking more at home and including vegetables at every meal. Ideally, we would be using an alternative to wheat flour and eating less bread, such as not having burritos and sandwiches in the same day. We tried an Ezekiel bread at one point, but the kiddos stomach's didn't tolerate it well.
We do make vegetables and have a fruit at almost every meal. I'm trying to change their breakfast from eggs every day. That is the steak burrito you see. It's steak and cheese in a tortilla, wrapped up (minus cheese for the little man). We have pretty good eaters, but even still, they like their routines.
I'm always trying to make changes when I can. That's part of this crazy journey. I hope you can be patient with me and be encouraged as well.
Let me know if this is a printable that you would want and I will pretty it up and post as a pdf. Have a great week!!
Please check back often as I am adding or modifying pages as time permits.
Scripture/Quote of the Week:
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
Who Am I?
Hi! I am Pam. I am so glad you stopped by to take a look at my blog. I am a Christian, wife, stay at home PCOS mom and homeschool mom to three amazing kiddos. I'm all about all natural living and real whole food - in real life.
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There are several pages with information on what works for our family, references and my passions. Hop over to the About section for more details on my story and I hope you will follow me in this journey! I'm always open to comments!