As moms we know Groundhog day all too well. Let me paint the picture. Your day starts the night before making lunch for your kids. Heart-shaped crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are on tomorrow’s menu because you’re having a Martha Stewart moment. By some small miracle no child wakes up in the middle of the night and you manage to get 6 full hours of sleep before your alarm goes off at 5:45 AM. You time it perfectly so you have just enough time to make breakfast and pack lunches, like the Rachael Ray ninja mom you are, before making the hour-long drive to and from school.
Then it’s off to work for 8 hours or back home to tackle that endless list of chores that somehow manages to grow faster than Jack’s beanstalk. Before you know it, it’s back on the road for another hour to pick-up the kids from school, take them to soccer practice, do homework, make sure everyone is bathed, and you know, manage the menial task of shaping young minds to be responsible and giving human beings when they grow up. Before you know it, it’s 7:30 and you haven’t even started dinner yet. Instant Mac ‘n Cheese is looking pretty good at this point, right?
Every day is the same routine. This is the kind of Groundhog Day we want to David Copperfield away. You swear to yourself tomorrow you’ll get ahead, you’ll pre-plan dinner, you’ll have more time to make a healthy meal for yourself and the kids…And then the merry-go-round starts all over again. The struggle is real, right?!
If nothing changes, nothing changes. What you need is a plan. No good General leads his men into a battle without a plan and motherhood isn’t much different. If you’re going to survive the trenches mama, you need a plan.
Good thing we’re here to help. We’ve got you covered with 5 tips you can implement today to pre-plan quick and healthy meals for your family and stop Groundhog Day from rearing its ugly head in your house. So the only thing you gain more of every day is time, not headaches. And what mom doesn’t want more time?
Tip 1: MAKE A WEEKLY MEAL CALENDAR AND STICK TO IT
Now I know what you’re thinking. You swore off homework the day you graduated college and this strangely feels an awful lot like the “H” word. But I promise it’s not. Not only is it a lot of fun to map out an entire week or month of meals, it will make your life so much easier. Think of it like a yoga class. You put one hour of work in and gain two hours of restoration, peace, balance, and energy for the rest of the day.
Making a weekly meal calendar is no different. Put a little time in and get a whole bunch of time back in return. A fridge list like this one makes it fun for the kids to see what’s on the menu for the week. And it doesn’t hurt that you can tear away the pages and hand them to dear hubby to help you with the grocery shopping. Just saying…
*Money Saving Tip: Cruise the weekly newspaper ads and plan meals around the coupons that are easy for you to use.
*Expert Tip: Check out tip #3 below to get healthy meal inspiration that will help you map out your meal calendar.
*Tip for Success: Involve the kids in planning meals and writing them down on the weekly meal calendar. Get them excited about having some power over decision making when it comes to the meals they eat. Provide guided choices that you approve of and let them choose.
Tip 2: MAKE A SHOPPING LIST TO COORDINATE WITH YOUR MEAL CALENDAR
Now that you have put together a weekly meal calendar, you can take the next step and make a shopping list that includes all the ingredients you need in order to make the upcoming week’s meals. This menu is laid out so your weekly meals are on top and your grocery list is on the bottom, which makes it super easy. This is step 2 in the process. You already have the meals planned out and the coupons you need.
Now all you have to do is set aside some time on your calendar to do your grocery shopping. I recommend doing all your week’s shopping on the same day every week. This way you don’t waste time going back and forth to the grocery store for things you need throughout the week. Unless of course you’re like me and walking aimlessly through the aisles of the store without the kids is like a trip to the spa. I’ll take whatever “me” time I can get. But seriously though, kids are awesome helpers in the store and from my expert tip below, you can see why I recommend bringing them along for the ride.
*Expert Tip: Get your kids involved in the shopping process. Helping pick out groceries, or better yet, cook them, will get them excited about what they are eating. You can also teach them about the value of money by giving them a budget of $10 each to pick out healthy snacks for your family to eat throughout the week.
Tip 3: BINGE WATCH A BUNCH OF YOUTUBE VIDEOS
You know the ones. No, not the “How to Get Cat Eyes Like Kim Kardashian” makeup tutorials we all watch when we can’t fall asleep (and won’t admit). The food videos. The ones where a camera is somehow magically propped above all the perfectly lit food, filming down into a bowl while the ingredients are all being mixed together. The ingredient list scrolls through the video as you watch a time-lapse of everything beautifully coming together. The videos that make you think, “I can do that. It looks so easy!” Those are the ones…
Save those videos in a YouTube playlist for later so you can put them on your weekly meal calendar and shopping list. This is step 3 in the process and I think the one that is the most fun. So long as you don’t get sucked into watching random videos of cute puppies for some strange reason…
*Recommended YouTube Healthy Food Vloggers and Playlists:
- The Diet Kitchen
- Rachel Aust
- Clean & Delicious
- Laura Miller
- Blogilates: Cheap Clean Eats Playlist
- POPSUGAR Fitness: Healthy Recipes Playlist
*Alternative Option: If you prefer cook books over videos, check out this one with a bunch of healthy meals and shopping lists organized for every week. It simplifies the workload involved in planning kid-friendly healthy meals, and for moms, simplicity is golden.
Tip 4: THROW A BUNCH OF LEFTOVERS TOGETHER
So you did everything you were supposed to in steps 1-3 and are loving mom life, but now you have a bunch of left-overs because life happens and things don’t always go as planned. Maybe your kids spent the night at a friend’s house or you decided to eat out, or you overestimated how much food you actually needed.
Take those leftovers and make an impromptu meal out of them. Simply throw some veggies together in a quick stir-fry. Or use some of those bananas that are getting a little too brown for your liking in a guiltless vegan ice cream or yummy breakfast smoothie. The key to saving time here is to not overthink it. Just make use of what you have that requires the least amount of effort on your part.
*Expert Tip: If you already have enough food for the week, consider freezing your leftovers and adding them to next week’s meal calendar. That’s one less meal you have to plan and shop for next week.
Tip 5: BATCH COOK
I’m a big believer in batching all things that require work. Laundry, washing dishes, planning Facebook posts for my clients for the entire month, running errands, etc…When you knock out a bunch of related tasks all at once, you save yourself a bunch of time. The same is true when it comes to cooking.
Dedicate 2 nights a week to cooking that week’s meals and commit to it. For example, you can plan your weekly meals, grocery shop, and cook for the upcoming week all on Sunday. Those prepped meals should last you through Wednesday and you can again cook on Wednesday night for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. This way you minimize your time in the kitchen and in the wise words of Larry the Cable Guy, “Get ‘er done.”
This tip will require you follow steps #1 and 2 above, but we know you got this mama. Because you’re Super Mom every day. Even on the days when you don’t feel like it and Costco Pizza sounds like a good plan.
Expert Tip: Invest in some fun new Tupperware so you can compartmentalize and store all the prepped meals for the week. This will help motivate you to batch cook because what mom doesn’t have a weird obsession with Tupperware? It just looks so perfect stacked in the fridge, right?
And there you have it. My top 5 time-saving tips to plan quick and healthy meals for your family. Say goodbye to Groundhog Day and hello to your Best Day yet! Now that you have all this extra time on your hands, go reward yourself with a new book you’ve been wanting to read or a date night with the hubby. You earned it.
By Toccara Chrisman
Toccara is the owner of FB AD STRATEGIST and the creator of “6 Steps to Facebook Launch”, a Facebook advertising course for business owners. Toccara stays busy hopping around the world with her two children, binge listening to Podcasts, and exploring her passion for health, fitness, and motherhood. You can access Toccara’s free Facebook advertising training videos at www.fbadstrategist.com/tutorials.