Managing Expectations - Meal Prep
Oh friends, let's talk about what daily life looks like. Take a deep breath! LIFE IS BUSY! I don't care if you are a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, a single person, or have seven children. Managing your time/schedule is the only effective way to keep your budget on track, keep waste to a minimum, and be able to thrive in life instead of just survive.
With all that I currently have going on I have been feeling a touch overwhelmed and out-of-sorts which really doesn't happen to me very often. This weekend I took a step back to try to figure out where the problem was. It didn't take me long to realize that a major portion of my current stress is coming from not meal planning appropriately, which in turn leads to not grocery shopping appropriately, which leads to dinner not being ready on time, ingredients not being here when I need them, and STRESS. So, what did I do to combat the issue? I made a binder of tabs full of ways to manage life in order to reduce stress.
If you are anything like me you have kids in school that need lunches everyday, all of their extra curricular activities (which, let's face it, normally fall during dinner hours), a husband who's schedule is rarely on any type of normal routine, and so much more.
Without further ado, let's walk through the charts I made:
1 - Weekly Calendar
This one is vitally important and a lot of the reason I have found myself falling short lately.
When you plan a menu it has to suite your needs. You are certainly not going to cook a five
course meal on a night when you are at the ballfield until 9pm. So, make your calendar for
the week FIRST! If you know that you are not going to be home until it is time to eat, that is
likely a good night for a crockpot meal that will be ready to eat the minute you walk through
the door. Likewise, if you know that when the kids get home from school that you are free
the rest of the night, it seems fitting that that night would be a great one for a nice hearty
meal that you can prepare same day and enjoy with your family.
2 - Weekly To Do List and Goals
I added this in as a second sheet because I just felt like it was a good addition to the normal
daily calendar. Let's say you know that the kids have a full day of school, you have a full day
of regular work, and then when you come home you want to make sure to get a good
workout in... well, again probably not a night where you want to eat a meal that is loaded
with carbs or will make you feel super full. That is probably a night that you want to plan a
light dinner of salad and fruit.
3 - Weekly Menu
This one is pretty self explanatory, but again, it prevents a major fall out in your week if you
can quickly fill this out on Sunday night (or whatever day you choose to do your planning
which we will talk more about later).
4 - Weekly Shopping List
This is where that budget comes into play. I have learned a very valuable lesson in weekly
planning and I seriously hopes it helps each of you. When I began the process of planning
for a weekly schedule/menu I asked myself, "What is this going to help?" The number one
answer for me was that it was going to help keep my food/household budget on a strict
schedule and that makes me SO happy! I am all about the numbers! In the last several
months I have become addicted to online grocery shopping because it is so efficient not
just to my time but also to my budget. When I don't go into the store to shop I don't buy
unnecessary items that I may walk past in my journey. Walmart is usually where I do the
majority of my online grocery shopping and it has a feature I adore. It is the "reorder" list.
Basically, when you order your groceries it saves everything you purchased into a little
folder for easier ordering the next time. When you prepare to place your order and it
realizes you didn't order something you had previously ordered multiple times before it
alerts you so that you hopefully prevent missing something on your weekly order. How
amazing is that for a busy schedule when things can easily be forgotten?!
I do my online order on Sunday afternoon and schedule it for pick-up on Monday morning
after I get the kids started with school. This gives me the opportunity on Sunday to run
through my upcoming weeks schedule, plan my menu, and do a walk-thru to
check everything household related: animal food, bathroom needs like mouthwash or toilet
paper, and laundry room needs like dryer sheets or detergent.
5 - Menu Options
Of all of the charts I created this one is my favorite for stress reduction! Although it takes
time to really fill this out comprehensively, it is incredibly important. When you look through
your schedule for the week and need to make decisions about what you are going to be
making each day of the week, it is so encouraging when all you have to do is pull out these
sheets and just select and insert what's needed.