If you read my guest post on Money Saving Mom's site on Monday, then you know that I have trouble with meal planning. I know that some of you probably have elaborate plans that you have been using for a long time. Just the other day, a younger mommy friend of mine posted her February meal plan on Facebook.
Thankfully, I am now past letting it bother me. I am slowly moving toward accepting the way God made me. I am not a person who gets stressed out easily; I am an optimist to a fault. I used to feel so guilty for not meal planning, or having my grocery list made out according to what's on sale. But no more!! I am embracing my spontaneous self, and making it work for me.
Here's what I have done to help me in the kitchen. First, I had my husband help me come up with all the meals we like to eat. We did meats/main dishes, sides(veggies, salads, etc.), and rice/potatoes. I listed them all out on paper.
Then we made some combinations. For example, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans. We did several combinations like that. I wrote them all out. But that is not what I use to meal plan. Nope. That would be way too structured for me. Seriously, I am near hopeless, y'all.
What I do is make sure I have the fixings for several different meals in the house at all time. We have nearly 200 lbs. of ground venison in our freezer, so I always have the option of tacos, chili, spaghetti, soup, meatloaf, burgers, or a venison/rice dish. I also put away a bushel of tomatoes last summer, so they are available for the sauce. Having these always available saves me on those days when I haven't prepared something else.
It also makes it possible for my daughter to get supper started if I am not home to do so. She can defrost and brown the meat, and get the sauce started so supper will be ready on time. This has saved my bacon many a time!
I usually keep a few cans of salmon in my pantry, and some type of sausage in the freezer. There is always a bag of frozen chicken tenderloins in the big freezer that can be cooked up fairly quickly. I buy a huge tub of brown rice from Costco, along with their big bags of frozen broccoli.
You can see how having the basic ingredients available makes meal prep much easier; even if you don't have a plan for every day of the month, or even the week! I never know what we will be eating on which night, for more reasons than one.
First, my Type B self rebels against a written plan. I can't help it, I just hate following a written schedule. So I leave the nights open.
Second, because we live so far out of town, I never know when we might be late getting home from an appointment, or when a last minute trip into town will trip up my supper plans. Orthodontists, doctors, church stuff, shopping, playgrounds...they can wreak havoc on your supper plans!!
Keeping things kinda' loose helps me not stress over that age old question, "What's for supper, Mom?"
So that is how I get around meal planning. I have ingredients available; I rely on my older kids to help out; and I have at least a loose idea of what we'll be eating in any given week.
It works for me!! Are you a strict meal planner? Or do you like to fly by the seat of your pants like me? Tell me in the comments...