When I quit my job, I kinda expected everything to magically fall in place and the chaos to disappear. (More on that in another post.) But, it didn’t and now that the girls are back in school, it’s become even more obvious that I needed some kind of magical “Chaos Be Gone.” Since that’s not available in my neighborhood Costco, I decided to go back to the drawing board for solutions to help give us smoother mornings and evenings. At the same time, a mom from my mom’s bible study shared a free cookbook with recipes for cheap meals. (The premise is that, on average, every meal in the book will cost about $4 per person.) At that moment a lightbulb went off and I decided to jump back on the meal planning wagon.
Meal planning takes the stress out of trying to figure out dinner each day. It also helps because I’ll know ahead of time if I need to defrost some meat or soak some beans. Once I’m done planning meals for the week, then I start cutting up and packing veggies and fruits for snacks for the week. Every Sunday, I sit down with my laptop and phone and plan a meal for each day.
About a year ago, my friend told me about an app AnyList, which is like the app of all apps. It’s a recipe app and shopping list in one. I do pay the $11.99/year for the premium version which allows me to meal plan, import recipes, access AnyList from any web browser and share my meal plan, recipes and grocery lists with T-Daddy. Once recipes are imported into AnyList, I can then add the ingredients from the recipe straight to my grocery list. I can also pick a recipe and assign it to a meal (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack) for any day. I use the AnyList for Mac app to import recipes from Pinterest and to copy and paste the recipes from the cookbook I found. For me personally, I like using the iOS app when I’m cooking versus trying to find recipe on Pinterest or a website (mainly because the app stops my phone from falling asleep and I don’t have to unlock it with food on my hands). So I’m spending a little time each Sunday, building up my recipe list. If you can’t tell, I’m in love and highly recommend the app.
Here are the meal plans I made for last week and this week. I normally just do dinner because breakfast is pretty standard and lunch is usually leftovers from the night before. I also included links to the sites for the recipes I used, unless they came from the cookbook (noted) or it’s something I don’t use a recipe for. I usually don’t meal plan for the weekends because we usually have things going on which will involve food:
Week of September 18:
September 18: Thai Pineapple Fried Rice and Baked Chicken
September 19: Pineapple Cucumber Lime Salad and Greek Marinated Chicken
September 20: Corn Soup (from cookbook)
September 21: BBQ Chicken Cornbread Skillet
September 22: Nachos
September 23: Pizza and Salad
Week of September 25:
September 25: Sautéed Spinach, Baked Chicken, Rice
September 26: Cold Asian Noodles (from cookbook) and Roasted Chicken
September 27: Dal (from cookbook) with rice or noodles
September 28: Chickpea Stew
September 29: Chimichangas
September 30: Leftovers
Meal planning really has helped relieve a lot of my stress surrounding dinner time and feeding the girls. Since I’ve been prepping their snacks when I meal plan that has also helped my mornings run a lot smoother. It’s one less thing I have to do in the mornings to get us out the door. And it’s amazing to me how this one little thing has already made such a difference.
BONUS: When I wrote about TD1’s birthday, I briefly mentioned that she and I made some treats for her classmates. She wanted to use the cookie cutter to give them fun shapes which meant we had to make a lot…and we had a lot left over. So I did the right thing, and I shared graciously. I hadn’t expected it to be such a hit. So for everyone that asked, here’s the recipe: Jam-Filled Granola Bars. I found this recipe looking for a variation of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars I made from the cookbook.