Life is hectic.
Michael and I both work full time. We both CrossFit. Our kids are in daycare. Nora has speech therapy twice a week at home. I’ve been in physical therapy for my hamstring injury. We’ve had pre-kindergarten stuff going on, early intervention evaluations for Vivienne. We are gearing up for Nora’s dance recital so we’ve had photos, extra rehearsals, and more. I’ve traveled twice for work in the past two weeks—one was a quick overnight to Toronto, but the other was a Tuesday-Friday haul to San Francisco. And I’m turning right back around and heading to Seattle for another trip in a couple of weeks. Add in plans with family, friends, birthdays, graduations, and the regular hustle and bustle of this time of year to everyday responsibilities and life can be downright overwhelming.
But also really fun.
My state of mind is so much healthier and happier in these warm weather months that I can’t even complain about any of the above, except for maybe a teensy bit about the work travel. I don’t even really mind except for the fact that it’s just a lot of time away from home in a short period. Thankfully, it’s not the norm so I am looking forward to July when things should calm the heck down for a bit.
Anyway, menu planning has been hard for me lately. Ever since Nora was born, we’ve done a week’s worth of meal planning at a time so that we can (usually) limit the trips to the grocery store to just once a week. We make a big trip on Saturdays and then Michael might run to grab a couple of things on his lunch break on maybe Tuesday or Wednesday—perishable stuff that we’ve already gone through (like bananas, or berries these days!), or a random thing we may have forgotten. It’s a system that has worked really well for us the past ~5 years. But lately, the combination of a lot of stuff on my mind and our busy schedule (therefore necessitating a lot of quick, easy meals) has been rough. I HATE the meal planning task right now.
For a while, I’ve been meaning to formalize the system somehow. Currently, I sit down with a piece of paper on Friday night or early Saturday morning and start jotting down a list of running items we need. Then I turn it over and write down the days of the week, and start slotting meals into those days. I turn the paper over, front and back, figuring out meals on the back and then adding all of the ingredients for those meals onto the front. I use the recipe index on this blog to help me come up with ideas, and of course, we have favorites. We don’t try as many new recipes these days, but I’d like to get more into that habit again. And I want a more organized system.
I’ve taken to Pinterest to solve my problems. And I have gathered inspiration.
Most simply, I’m at the very least going to do something like this:
(Source: Coupon Closet)
It’s obviously just a menu board to help keep things clear for the week. I like these and have been meaning to make one for a while. However, this doesn’t really help with the menu planning aspect. It doesn’t help us come up with the different meals we want to make.
So, I’ve also come across systems like this:
So in these versions, you’ve got pre-printed or written cards with recipe names on them and then you just sift through them each week to pick your meals. That would definitely help matters when we’re drawing a blank about what to have, right?
And then I came across this one, which is like the mac daddy of menu planning boards:
(Source: RobbyGurl’s Creations)
This person menu plans FOR THE MONTH, y’all. First of all—I can’t even. Sometimes, I just have a hankering for Mexican. Or I eat like crap on a weekend and feel horrendous and need to eat relatively cleanly through the week to make myself feel better. How am I supposed to know weeks in advance if those things are going to hit? I guess this system would still be highly adaptable—no one is saying that you need to stick to it in stone. Which is maybe why I kind of love it, despite its flaws.
And it would be kind of interesting to see “a month at a glance,” although I would definitely need multiple magnets for some recipes because there are things that are in our rotation once every 2-3 weeks and I actually like it that way. I can’t imagine going a whole month and not eating the same thing twice!
Anyway, the Type-A organizational geek that lives inside of me is THRILLED by this last concept, or at least a version of it. Those cards hanging off of the bottom are THE RECIPES, you guys! No more checking my phone a zillion times to look at each ingredient and the instructions as I cook. But how practical is this, really? And how much time would it actually take to pull this all together? And how likely would I be to actually make new cards/magnets for new recipes we find? Hmm. I suppose my fear is that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with this.
So, in all my spare time, I’m trying to come up with a plan.
Does anyone have a system resembling any of these that you use successfully? Or that you’ve tried and has failed? Any other suggestions? Menu/meal ideas or recommendations for me to add to our rotation?
AboutI'm Heather. I'm 33 and have been married to Michael for seven years. Together, we have two beautiful little girls we love more than anything, and a miniature dachshund who drives us crazy. I'm a full-time working mom who has very little time for my own "stuff" these days, like home improvement, cooking/baking, cake decorating, and photography. Despite the team not making the playoffs since 1999, I'm STILL a Buffalo Bills fan, which I think speaks to my loyalty AND sense of humor. I can't wait to pick up the pace with travel again some day... you know, when we're done being ruled by tiny fists. Welcome to my blog.
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