Monday, March 5, 2012

Meal planning made easy!

Having five children and being 6 and ½ months pregnant with baby #6 has been fun in so many ways and yet VERY hard in others. I think baby #6 is trying to kill me. Really!
By the end of the day, I am too sore and too tired (and often too sick) to make a decent dinner like I did in the “good ‘ol days” when life was normal and I was not pregnant. (Wait………did I say normal? Has there ever really been a “normal?”)
Through the years I have tried ALL kinds of Meal planning ideas. I had a friend who would spend a whole day cooking meals for the entire month and then freezing them.  I loved the idea, but never had the time or ambition to go that far. It was a bit overwhelming for me to think of cooking for a whole month.  What meals would I make? How much?
I have gone the route of planning all of the meals for the month on paper and trying to keep track of what we were going to have each night. It eventually got overwhelming too. (Can you tell I am easily overwhelmed when it comes to dinner time and what to make?)
I actually LOVE to cook and always want to try fancy new recipes, but with 5 kids to take care of, I just don’t have the time and I always just reverted back to the same quick and easy dinners over and over again.  (And when worst comes to worst, I bust out the cold cereal. It is a sad true story!!)
So recently I decided to find a way to do what I love (cook fabulous meals) without spending so much time (time that I don't have anyways) and get my dinners organized without getting overwhelmed.  I actually found a way to do all of the above. So excited!!!
I wanted to make sure this would be something that would not fade away over a few weeks. I wanted something simple enough to last through the years. Something I could really keep up with. Something that was doable for my busy life.  (Because let’s face it, after baby #6 comes, life will not get less busy)
I went to the store and found JUST what I was looking for. Three GLASS baking dishes with lids. (I wanted glass so that they could either be used in the microwave or oven)
  Next, I went through my awesome cookbook and picked out ALL of the meals I would like to eventually try. (The meals that I have NEVER had time to try)

I then picked out THREE MEALS. That is it. See not so overwhelming…………..right?
  I got everything I would need for those three meals and I spent some time on Sunday making those meals. It was so much fun!!! My husband was home to watch the kids (So I didn’t have kids needing this or that. I just got to cook. What a concept) and it only took me a little over an hour to make the meals.
  Doesn’t it look beautiful and healthy?!!  Take THAT cold cereal!!!!
I made sure that I had enough to completely fill those baking dishes because in reality, HALF of one of those baking dishes would be one meal for my family.  

Meal #1- Veggie Lasagna
  Meal #2- Enchiladas
  Meal #3- Beef stew
  I put them in the fridge and there you have it!!
Now, on Monday I will pull out one of the baking dishes around 4pm and put it in the oven. That’s it!! I will toss a salad at 5pm, pull the baking dish out of the oven and dinner is done!!!   And since our family will only eat about half of that baking dish worth, I will save the other half for Thursday night.

So basically we will have meal #1 on Monday, Meal #2 on Tuesday, Meal #3 on Wednesday, the other half of meal #1 on Thursday, the other half of meal #2 on Friday, the other half of meal #3 on Saturday and Sunday is a whatever day.  (And I make three meals for the next week)
So I only have to spend a little amount of time to make three meals on Sunday for the whole week. I save so much time during the week!!! Now THAT is not overwhelming. I can do that!!!   


Cecily said...

That is an amazing concept!!! LOVE IT!! I will have to try this on Sunday. :)

Liz and Tyler Hurd said...

I used to do something similar, and then got away from it. Here is another plan. Thaw some chicken breasts and cook some rice... lots of rice and lots of chicken. I usually did this on the weekend. Then for the next few hours make everything I could with these two ingredients. Chicken and rice, enchaladas with rice, haystacks, cream cheese chicken, gumbo etc. Then the next week was hamberger and potatoes, then noodles tomatoes It worked wonders, and it isn't left over if you haven't had it yet. Plus... we love left overs anyway.... Way to Go!!!

Tara said...

Love your idea Andrea! It is perfect for us because my husband works M-W 12 hour shifts and I have such a hard time cooking on those days. I am totally yrying it out this week. Thanks for the inspiration!

Andrea Lee U.R. said...

Cool idea Liz!!! I like that. Thanks for sharing!