Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Meal Planning

*I hate sounding like a know it all, so please don't think I actually think I know what I'm doing. I don't, this is just how I do it!*

I like to be organized. It soothes my brain to have “all my ducks in a row” and a list for everything. I feel like at the end of the day the only thing I can really plan is my "pretend" life. The one where I'm organised and everything is labeled and the same colors. 

I decided to share some tips on meal planning, since it seems to be one of the most frequently ask question once someone hears I've got myself six kids. People are pretty sure we spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on food each week but the reality is that I am just really disciplined about what we buy and spend only about $500.00 - $600.00 a month on food, that includes eating out - when we do, which we tend to do when I start going nuts. "I need out of here! Get your shoes and get in the car we're eating out!" followed by cheering then mass chaos as no one can EVER find their shoes. 

I digress.

In case you don’t know me I’ll add in that we don’t snack much but when we do it’s usually air popped popcorn or peanut butter crackers; both from Costco. The crackers are around five bucks for 48 I think and the popcorn… I’m going to say about six bucks for 5lbs. These last for a month. Instead of buying ice cream treats we stick with otter pops. The kids love them and they’re about 5.00 and last all summer. 

So here’s how I get started on my meal planning: it starts with sitting down with my calendar on my phone and my paper calendar that hangs in the kitchen. I fill in the week first with the things we’re doing.

Here’s schedule from last week;  
Sunday – Church, Molly’s ½ Birthday
Monday – VBS, Molly ballet, Joe Baseball Practice
Tuesday – VBS, Joe game (snacks!)
Wednesday – J’s Day off, VBS, Garbage Day, Joe’s Den meeting
Thursday- Slushee day! Baseball game
Friday – VBS, S&J Campout, Farmer’s Market
Saturday – Point Defiance Hike, Date night, Brave in the park

So then I have those in and next I add in our “weekly” meals. On Tuesdays we have Tuna fish and Rice. Every Tuesday. I guess this is a Japanese thing, but if you've never tried it – don’t knock it. It’s delicious and so satisfying. We use 3 cans of Tuna with about 1T of mayo and about 1t wasabi. Mix it together, serve over rice. We also have “Furikake” which is a “seasoning” that has seaweed flakes, salt, sesame seeds, and salmon flakes. It’s very salty, but very delicious served over rice. I also usually serve salad. I TRRRRRY to serve a veggie and a fruit at every meal. It doesn't always happen and I try not to sweat it when I don’t.
Thursdays are Jerry’s day to go into work. I stay home all day and try to clean our room and change sheets and clean our bathroom and generally do things I can’t while he’s working. By the time he gets home I’m generally exhausted and he brings home PIZZA!
Fridays or Saturdays we have movie night and we have macaroni and cheese and serve popcorn with a movie.

So I add those meals in then I look at the week starting with Sunday. Molly’s half birthday, I’ll need to make a cake and what’s one of her favorite dinners? We had tuna noodle casserole, salad, and green peas. This is Molly’s favorite meal. I don’t really care for it, but it’s one of the things the kids eat without complaint!

Monday night we had Chinese takeout and the kids had peanut butter sandwiches after ballet and before Baseball. Monday night are chaotic and I totally admit I need a better grasp on dinners for this night. But also, I love Chinese so, I'm not super motivated to get on it. HA!

Tuesday – Tuna and Rice. Sometimes we have gyoza, sometimes we roll it into sushi rolls. :) Usually we have miso soup with it.

Wednesdays are Jerry’s day off and we had Hamburgers, chips, and salad. I like to add in a fun meal or spice up a boring meal every once in a while… especially when chips are on sale! ;)

Thursday night we had Pizza! Yay! I’m always really excited about this even thought I HATE pizza! I don’t have to cook, people and there are usually only 6 plates to wash. I usually eat leftovers or have a salad. I don’t like pizza.

Friday night was Mac and Cheese night. Another night I just do not like BUT since BOTH of my boys were having their first solo camp out with their dens we decided to eat out! We went to Applebees, which is one of our favorite restaurants to eat at with the kids.

Saturday was cah-ray-zay. I took the kids hiking, then had a date with Jerry, and afterwards took the little girls to the movie in the park. We had our babysitter over while Jerry and I went out to dinner AGAIN (we went to sushi revolution!) and the kids had mac and cheese. :)

Okay there we go.

For the actual grocery list I start with breakfasts. We have cinnamon rolls on Friday, Eggs, and toast on Saturdays, and pancakes on Sundays then cereal the rest of the week.

Now, I start by grabbing my clean piece of lined paper and a blue ball point pen. These things are super important.
Start at the top with the top (breakfast M – Sun, Lunches M – Sun, Dinners- M-Sun, snacks/extras)
I see what we have in the cupboards and fridge and add onto the list.

Sometimes I will also coupon clip or sort my list by what we need from where. We get a lot of our food from Costco, they’re easy because they sell in bulk and baby, we need bulk.
I keep a running list on the fridge for things I’ve noticed we’ve run out of like sugar or tea or toidee pepper.

See how easy that sounds? It takes about 30 minutes. You have no idea how much money a person can save planning their meals. If you like to run out for a pop for $1.50 every afternoon grab a case of 24 cans of pop for what, five bucks? Saves you a bunch.

If you have any questions... ask! If you have any tips... leave them here! :)

Oh wait! Don't go, I just remembered one last thing.

The most important part, so lean in young grass hopper... DON’T FORGET THE WINE!

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