I have never been one to meal prep. I literally stunk at it for the better part of... my LIFE! Until now that is. I have found a secret that all mothers will not just appreciate but will LOVE. It all stated with a reoccurring grocery bill, a bill that was pushing $300 every week!!! Gulp and pass out. Now this blog with be a little different for each one reading it. It all depends on your size family, but the results will be the same. Meal prepping this way will not only save you BIG bucks but it will also save you stress, anxiety, worry, frustration and lets be honest; what mother doesn't need less of those things in her life.
See, we are a growing family of five. Two ladies and three men. I say men because that is how my boys appetites will be here very shortly. Before we had kids I remember my husband and my budget was $50 a week. Ahhh! It was awesome, but then came the babies which weren't bad until they started eating solid food. From there it was a down hill spiral. But NOT ANYMORE!!! Below I am going to list the simple step you need to take to make your life easier and your bank account heavier.
Breakfast - same thing for the week
Lunch - same thing for the week
Dinner - same thing for the week
CHANGE MEALS & REPEAT!!!
That Was It And It Is Working!!!!
Now let me go into detail on this meal plan. Every week I pick a breakfast meal for the kids. This week is frozen waffles, mandarin oranges and chocolate milk (I have actually started letting the kids choose on some weeks which I'll explain later). Lunch is mac-and-cheese, green beans and bananas. Last for dinner is chili (a tradition for Halloween). So every day from Sunday until Saturday the family eats the same thing (for the most part. The hubs and I would be ... not healthy if all we ate was the mac-and-cheese, more on that later as well) and then we start over with something new the following week.
My Kids Wont Eat The Same Thing Every Day
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!! Yes, there will be an adjustment period. I remember Leonidas choosing to go to bed instead of eating the same thing he didn't like again. However, now that they know this is their option they have all started eating what is served to them.
I Can't Eat What My Kids Eat
No problem momma. Simply use the same strategy on yourself. Lunch for my husband and I tend to be the hardest so I simply meal prep salads for us for the week. Salads are so diverse you can totally change them completely every week. Or, do something else that is better suited to your needs, just stick to the same routine.
What Will I Gain From This?
1. Forget rotten food and wasted money: Before this routine I would TRY to meal plan each day and each meal. I was literally running a restaurant for my kids. By mid week I was so exhausted that I would forget about the meal planning and order take out and the food would be forgotten. Eventually the food would go bad and I would throw unopened this and unopened that away.
2. Learning To Eat Leftovers: So my kids (and if I am being honest me too) hated left overs. They wanted something fresh and new every meal so left over meals would go bad and ... go into the trash. Now it is the norm for my kids and they eat it!!! I couldn't believe it, but it was true. By the end of the week left overs were gone, the fridge looked sparse, no wasted food!!!
3. Stress level dropped: Meal planning this way has drastically dropped my stress levels because I am only needing to plan for three meals (roughly, if I need something different it is 4). Grocery shopping is FAST! I use instacart which lowers my stress even less. Highly recommend the delivery or at least curb side pick up despite the slight up charge. Last is the stress relief of just popping dinner back in the oven to warm up or turning the crock pot back on, when that's done I am free to have down time or do whatever.
4. Budget Friendly (SERIOUSLY FRIENDLY): So remember I told you our average grocery bill was about $300 a week. With the new plan, and seeing the total in my cart BEFORE checking out (allows you to take off un-needed items if you are over budget) we have dropped our grocery bill down to $130-$150 a week. That is a HUGE difference. More money and less waste.
Last Minute Tips
1. When your children have gotten settled into this routine and accept it, let them help. Let them pick out one meal for the week (within reason); let them help cook it (my kids actually like whatever is made more if THEY help make it).
2. Don't go overboard!!! So our week looks like this, Sunday is the fresh meal of the week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, (+\- Saturday depending on if grandparents invite us over) are the days we do the planned meal as a left over. Wednesday we are out late because of gymnastics so we eat out as a family. There is money for that (still try to eat at restaurants that offer deals for kids) now that our grocery bill is so much lower. Friday is our family fun night so we do whatever, eat out, fruity pebbles, frozen pizza, whatever (but don't make it another big dinner, something quick and fun!!!)
3. I told you about instcart and for our family it is the best fit, despite the small up charge (I just love not GOING to the store, less compulsive buying!!!); but for kicks and giggles I decided to give ALDI a try. You know, just to see. My total for the entire week of food was ... $60!!!!!!!!!!! If you can refrain from compulsive buying and stick to your list you WILL save more money going to the store yourself.
I hope you enjoyed this fun, off my normal, blog post. I would love for you to try this and get back with me on how you liked it!! You can do that by clicking any of the links below and leaving a comment. If you have a question about it feel free to ask and I'll get back to you. As mothers we shouldn't be so stressed over food and feeding everyone. It should be quick and easy so we can get back to what is really important. Living life with our families.