Going Automatic in Meal Planning

About a month ago, I went with some girlfriends to hear Kimberly Zahasky of The Professional Optimist speak about loving ourselves. Part of the talk was spent on how we spend our time. She told us to focus and spend our time on the things that we love, eliminate things we hate and can live without, and finally to automate the things that we don’t love but still need to do. She then gave us the example about her family meal planning, and ever since it’s been a game changer for me.

I am a teacher and during the school year meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking stress me out. It’s really important to me to provide meals that are healthy for my family, but it’s another THING (who am I kidding… LOTS OF THINGS!) that I need to do, but don’t enjoy when I’m busy. In the summer, when I have more time, I actually really enjoy it! However, during the school year, it’s something that I’ve decided to automate and it’s been awesome.

What am I talking about? Kimberly mentioned that every Tuesday in her house is Taco Tuesday. Another friend of mine mentioned that every Friday is pizza night in her house. Well, I’ve decided to come up with a plan for every night of the week.

Mondays, for example, are salad nights in our house. My husband and I have a commitment on Mondays and salads are really quick! My girls don’t love lettuce, so we deconstruct the salad and give them all of the other veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots) with a few pieces of chicken.

Tuesdays are some version of a taco. I’ve done straight up tacos, BBQ pork tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, or this week I’m making a southwest stuffed peppers.

Wednesdays are meat nights. I will make some kind of meat with a side of brown rice and a vegetable or salad. I’ve done chicken, pork chops, beef, etc.

Thursdays are soup night. There are SO many options for soup… chili, potato or cauliflower soup, chicken noodle, roasted vegetable and chicken soup, etc. I could go on and on. There is so much variety!

Fridays are usually our night out, pickup, or eat leftovers. By Friday, I usually don’t feel like cooking.

Saturdays are pasta night. We’ve done spaghetti (or spaghetti squash), pizza pasta, pasta with white sauce, chicken and broccoli, or homemade mac and cheese. I’m gluten free, and there are a lot of awesome options for pasta. Aldi sells a really good organic, brown rice and quinoa pasta. Again, there are tons of options and I always serve a vegetable with the pasta.

Sundays I usually try to go vegetarian or fish. It may be a soup, a vegetarian stir-fry, pasta, or kind of like my meat night, but with fish instead.

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I’m someone who doesn’t like to eat the same thing every week, and while we kind of eat the same thing, there is so much variety in it! It’s saved me so much time in planning. I know what each day is going to be in the upcoming week and planning is so much easier. We have our go-to meals that we love and just alternate them every few weeks. If you struggle with meal planning or just want to decrease the amount of time you put into it every week, I’d recommend starting something like this.

What other mom hacks do you have for meal planning, grocery shopping and/or preparing food for your family? I’d love to hear how you manage!

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3 Responses to Going Automatic in Meal Planning

  1. Anna January 2, 2017 at 10:10 am #

    Thank you for this article! I have always struggled with meal planning for my family, but this seems doable!

  2. Liz January 2, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

    I love this idea!
    Something I do… A couple local grocery stores allow you to set up multiple lists online. I set up lists for ~15 of our favorite meals. At the beginning of the week I select the meals we want and ingredients are added to my grocery cart online. Then I have it either delivered or pick it up at the store. I can do it during my baby’s nap and it saves so much planning and shopping time.

    • Susan January 3, 2017 at 11:24 pm #

      This is a great tip! Thank you!

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