The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Monthly Meal Planning

on February 8, 2017

First, a Delaney update. Her fever was 101 all Monday and I started to get worried.   The doctor confirmed it was a virus, nothing bacterial to be treated, so I took her to our chiropractor for an adjustment. Her fever stayed below 100 all day Tuesday, so barring a crazy spike this morning, she’s off to school today! I’m sure I just jinxed myself.

Meal planning! I have been meal planning since the girls started eating. At first I just wrote out their meals, since I barely cooked for myself. It helped me prep ahead, and helped the nanny know what to feed them. That morphed into weekly meal planning for our family once we started eating the same dinner. I have a very love/hate relationship with meal planning. As a planner and someone who is not a spontaneous cook, I NEED IT. Without it our meals end up being pancakes and eggs and the occasional protein based meal. But I am so terribly burnt out on it as well. Once dairy went out the window for me, I felt like so many fun meals went out the window as well. It’s been hard to find any joy in meal planning when I felt like it was the same thing over and over.

I’d been toying with the idea of meal planning for an entire month for a little while. I honestly don’t have the time or energy to do it weekly, why not take 30 minutes and do it for the whole month? Thinking about it, I assumed it would be overwhelming. How would I find enough meals for the whole month when I can’t find enough for a week? But it turns out it’s easier to do it for the whole month because I don’t have to filter down to just 5-7 meals.

When I planned for January I took some time and printed out a bunch of recipes from my pinterest boards that I wanted to try. I paired those with recipes I had and liked, and started plotting out my month. I added in staple meals – roast chicken, sausage and veggies, fried rice – as well as new things. I was also mindful of my proteins and not repeating the same thing over and over. It came together incredibly quickly.

For February, I planned similarly but this time I just wrote down the recipes I wanted to try. To be honest, I didn’t like this. One of the things I liked about January was that I had everything printed out and in a folder. When it was time for dinner, I didn’t have to wonder if I’d printed out the recipe or not. It was there. I need to do that for the rest of February and keep that in mind for the future.

What happens if I don’t feel like a meal that night? I move it. To another week, or later in the week, it’s easy to swap because I can see the entire month at a glance and can see where it will fit in. This has happened a few times on weekends where I suddenly realize I don’t have the three plus hours needed to make that beef stew, so I swap it with the shrimp and grits I have scheduled the next week.

Another weird bonus? The kids are eating what I cook every night. Before this they’d ask what we were having and then reply “I don’t want that, I’ll have a bowl of cereal.” Talk about crushing my cooking mojo. But there has not been a single bowl of cereal for dinner in the last month! And the girls have been trying even the new recipes! Could just be a new phase with them too, who knows.

We have gone out for dinner most Friday nights for the past few years. It’s always my sanity saver at the end of a long week. But with No Spend January, there was no going out for dinner. I thought it would stress me out more, but I was so wrong. I made sure to plan an easy meal for Fridays that we would all like, which made coming home to cook it an easy task. Also? It was nice not to drag everyone back out in the cold to go to a restaurant and pay money for a meal my girls barely touched. Bonus win.

2 responses to “Monthly Meal Planning

  1. Jill says:

    . How often do you grocery shop? Do you have issues with activities/commitments popping up and throwing off the schedule? Do plan in nights to eat left overs? When do you make your shopping list?

    I’ve been doing a week at a time and there are aspects I like, but I’m having trouble now that we’ve got so many after school activities popping up and I’m still struggling to get the shopping part done.

    • Erin says:

      I grocery shop once a week on Saturdays while they are at ballet. I make my grocery list Saturday morning. We shop at Trader Joe’s, so options are limited which works well for us. I’m in and out in 20 minutes. I try to plan ahead for any commitments. Piano lessons are at 4:45, so it works best to heat up leftovers or something easy that night so I’m not banging around during their lesson. Similarly, riding lessons are at 5:30 so it has to be something I can make and take in the car, or that we can reheat, hence taco night. That said, if something pops up I adjust as best as possible either moving a meal around, or skipping that meal if I can.

      I do try to leave one or two nights open for leftovers or fend for yourself when it’s cereal/oatmeal/eggs because some nights, you just need to. I’m also trying to be aware of which meals yield leftovers and which don’t, because too often we are stuck with a fridge full of leftovers that just don’t get eaten.

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