Monday, August 19, 2013

A Working Mothers Guide to Meal Planning

So much has been going on! Scott traveled some this summer for Chick Fil A and enjoyed every minute of it. So for weeks on end, I’m at home doing all the laundry, dishes, diapers, trash, folding, scrubbing, sweeping, bill paying, mail checking, bathing, errand running, grocery shopping, cooking, vacuuming, gas pumping, and paci finding. Oh yeah and I work full time. I have a new appreciation for single working mothers. I dont know how you do it! Having a husband pretty much spoils you!


So a couple of people have asked me how I do it all. How do I work, cook meals for my family, keep my house clean, and have all this leisure time to be doing Pinterest projects and such. Well I dont have much leisure time, except when I get to potty alone. Any other leisure time I have is spent playing candy crush and occasionally updating this blog. All the crafting I do, I see as a nessisity to life. Just like eating I NEED to do it. It makes me happy. And we all know as a working mother you have to have that me time to keep your sanity. All my little projects are my me time. And pedicures. Pedicures are my drug of choice.


While I think the key here is time management (which I am not always a pro at) I will share with you other methods I use to deal with the madness. However, I will be focusing on meal planning, since this is what I get asked about the most.


First, there are many blogs and Pinterest boards devoted to meal planning and I am definitely not an expert. But I am lazy. And busy. So I feel that there are millions of other moms out there just like me who would like to know how to make this work

As a side note, most people meal plan for the whole month. This is great if you know that you are not ever going out to eat or ever have last minute plans that mess up your eating agenda for the day. Also, I live in an apartment with a rather small fridge/freezer so I really do not have the space to store a whole month’s worth of food. I cant figure out how people keep the produce fresh for the whole month. Obviously, they buy frozen or they are going to buy fresh produce every week, which totally negates meal planning in the first place (at least in my eyes). I also know I get paid bi-monthly so there is no way we could afford to shell out the money to buy all the groceries at once.

Monthly would work if you:

*get a big paycheck once a month (or if you just have a ton of money in the first place)

*have a big fridge and/or a deep freeze

*have a large pantry

If you are in the same boat as me, then weekly works fine too.


1)           THE LIST

I make a grocery list. It is bizarre to me that people actually go to the store without a list. How to do you remember everything? There is nothing more annoying than running from one end of the store and back again because you keep remembering other things to you need.


There are several pros to making a list

    *you save money

    *you save time

    *do you need more pros? I didnt think so.


Here’s how I break it down. Pull out a piece of paper and make categories that correlate to the sections of your grocery store. Mine usually looks like this:


Produce:                     Meat:






Dairy:                       Canned:







Dry:                                                        Frozen:











Then I move into step 2..


2)           PLANNING MEALS

Again, I cannot just walk into a grocery store and think what do I want to eat this week? $180 later, I have a buggy full of things that make like 3 meals. So I must plan it out in advance.



First, I look at Scotts schedule to see how many nights he will be working. On those nights, I do not plan to cook because it is pretty much impossible. My “go to” meals for these nights are either frozen skillet meals or chicken noodles with a veggie as a side. I love the skillet meals because they always have a meat, a veggie, and a carb in them. They are always tasty. And lastly, they take 14 mins to cook. It doesn’t get easier than that. If you can boil water you can make chicken noodles. Cook noodles, drain, pour a can of cream of chicken on it and call it good. When I’m real lazy I microwave a can of green beans to go with it. (Gosh, if I never sounded white trash, that was it) I always keep a stock of canned veggies in the pantry for such nights. If you don’t believe in canned veggies or only eat organic…I don’t think I can help you much. Bless your heart.


For the nights that Scott is home, I prefer to cook and prepare a meal. I don’t know, I kinda like being that wife that woos my husband with food. I like to rotate a few of our favorite meals with new meals every week. I get my inspiration from Simple and Delicious magazine and Pinterest. Also, as a side note, I LOVE my Six Sisters Cookbook. Never a bad meal out of that one. They have a blog, I highly recommend it!Six Sisters Stuff I pick a complete meal (main dish and a side) for each night remaining in the week.


After I have picked my meals, I then plug in all the ingredients I will need for each meal into my grocery list. Pretty easy. I then add the other things, like breakfast and lunch items, into my list.


Now here’s how you stay on budget….




You have already listed EVERYTHING you need to make dinner, lunch, and breakfast for an entire week. If it is not on the list, you do not NEED it. They only “snack” item I buy is goldfish for Bryce. We are never home during the day, so we don’t need any snack food. If we get that hungry we eat a banana or a bowl of cereal. You waste so much money buying empty calories.


Couponing is over-rated. Kroger brand is the cheapest option even if you have a $2.00 off coupon for the name brand. This is true 99% of the time. Also, most of the coupons I come across are not for products I would ever buy anyways. Like cat food and contact solution. If you are into couponing, great. But its not for me. Everything that goes into my buggy is Kroger brand. EVERYTHING. And then I DO use my Kroger coupons that come in the mail.  


When picking meals, I tend to scan the list of ingredients. If I am going to have to buy more than 4-5 ingredients, then I toss that recipe out the window. The cost of the meal goes up with each ingredient. Obviously, I’m not including spices and pantry items I already keep stocked. This rule helps with cost but also with simplifying your meals. As a rule of thumb, I aint go no time to be cooking no meal that requires cutting an peeling 6 things. However, I usually go all out for 1 meal each week. This is usually our Sunday Dinner. I might spend $20 on that one meal alone. We eat good on Sundays. Mmmmm.


I follow these 3 simple rules, and I spend between $80-$100 dollars a week on groceries for a family of 3.


Hopefully, all of that made sense. Maybe you read that and was like “Wow, that was stupid. Everyone knows that.” Maybe it actually helped you. If you have any feedback on your meal planning experiences, please let me know and leave a comment!

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