Meal Planning continues to be one of my friday night or saturday morning rituals. i always want to make sure there is enough food and ingredients in the house for the rest of the week because for me, doing grocery errands in the middle of the week, is not just a hassle — it is an expensive chore that makes me buy things that are not within the budget. (related story: seven ways to save on grocery shopping)
So as a working mom, coming up with a meal plan, has some sort of became a form of discipline for me. Plus, it guides on me on what items i should be buying in the grocery. you may also want to check out out meal preparation guide for busy moms here, where meal planning plays a big role.
Some years ago, me and my fellow working moms in the office ( i have written about these ladies here), have lunch and talk about our meal plan and the recipes that are involved. We usually exchange recipes, and the fun part is we bring over ‘meals’ during our mini-pot lucks every end of the month so we can sample each other’s specialties. If you are clueless about quick recipes to prepare, i have some here)
Meal Planning as a Discipline
Meal planning also helps you stick to healthier food alternatives. You can schedule healthy meals daily (or every other day), and by re-reading your list, you can check yourself if you’ve been eating too much red meat or processed food. If you or anyone in your family is following a strict diet due to health or fitness reasons, meal planning will also help you stick to that diet.
In my case, it also gives me a peace of mind. Peace of mind knowing that i wouldn’t be rushing every morning to decide on Little’s lunch for DC, what H and I are having for breakfast, what id be bringing to the office for lunch, and what id be reheating for dinner. I say reheating because we do batch cooking every weekends. It also saves money because you save on take out/delivery/eat out options knowing that you have food at home.
Besides, meal planning is not rocket science, and most western moms have their own way of coming up with one. Some go to their trusted websites for recipes to try, some scour their recipe files, some do recipe exchanges during forums or IRL discussion with friends.
Tips in Meal Planning
For me, i start it off by examining the Ref/Freezer and pantry for food that can be cooked for the coming week’s meals. after that i then encode the meals on my meal plan. I also consult Little and H for meals that they may like this coming week, and of course, ask myself, what id like to eat.
From there i derive my grocery list, then head to the grocery, and do batch cooking during weekends.
in my case, i write on a notebook all the recipes we usually cook so that i could just easily choose during meal planning sked.
this week this is what we are having. 6 Breakfasts: omelette, red egg and tomatoes, fried eggplant and spanish sardines, pancakes and sausage, bacon and egg, sauteed spicy tuna over white rice/toast.
Here is a sample meal plan you can have for your family meals next week.
Since i don’t have help, our lunch is also our dinner. So here are the 6 meals: Tuna penne pasta, tofu and mushroom in oyster sauce, pork belly sinigang, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta, Little’s Milky Macaroni and Bacon, and the last one probably bolognese pasta or EAT OUT.
I also have emergency staple meals at home that i make whenever I am in super rush or there’s suddenly some company in the house.
So if you don’t do meal planning, i strongly encourage you to give it a try. it will also make the kids and your husband more involved in the meal planning so that you’d not be left all alone wondering what to feed them. 🙂
So what is your strategy to simplify meal prep for your family?
Here is a video of one of my favorite chefs, Chef Boy Logro, cooking a great freezer meal, the pork adobong tuyo: