Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE to meal plan? Ok, so maybe I don’t love the actual physical act of meal planning itself, but I love reaping the rewards! What rewards exactly? Well… not coming in the door at 4:31 p.m. with 2 little munchkins exhausted from a busy day of
grueling physical labour play and having to stare into the abyss of my freezer trying to magically conjure up a delicious, nutritious dinner idea that can be thawed, prepped, and cooked in the span of time it takes my pint-sized bottomless pits to go from mildly peckish to full-on ready-to-eat-their-own-arms-ravenous! Which, for the record, is approximately 4 minutes and 18 seconds. That, in itself, is a pretty great reward! The fact that I can feel good about the foods I feed my family, not be tempted by the dreaded drive-thru, and get to have one fun, although slightly chaotic, day each month of dishing (bad pun, sorry!) with my girlfriends – all bonusus!
In case you’re wondering, here’s a basic summary of how we make it work:
A couple friends and I get together and brainstorm meal ideas – breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. Sometimes this is done over coffee, sometimes online – thank you Pinterest! Then we make one giant grocery list which is sometimes broken down into smaller lists if we need to go to more than one store. We do the big shop on the first Tuesday of the month when Nutters offers 20% off and Sobey’s 15% off (for club members). Sometimes we will also make a trip to Costco, or send a
minion husband. A day or two after the shop, we bring all the ingredients to one house, usually the one with the vitamix and other fancy kitchen tools. The kids sit quietly reading books and doing puzzles or perhaps swinging on chandeliers and sliding down banisters. Either way, we get to work in the kitchen… assembling full meals ready for the freezer, mixing homemade marinades or dressings, baking special treats, giggling and gossiping and gulping down coffee. When we’ve used up every ingredient and the kids begin to enter into super-cling mode, we each take our loot home and enjoy home-cooked meals for the rest of the month :)
Now, we do not actually make a breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day of the month. You certainly could… especially if you planned a full day and made other arrangements for the kids. Personally, I’m not willing to give up one of hubby’s days off or precious baby-sitting hours to spend the whole day in the kitchen. So, we like to cram it all into the middle of the week amidst various different school pick-ups, nap schedules, etc. Sometimes we divide vegetable prep work or baking and do some of it ahead of time to lighten the load on cooking day. Either way, it is still usually just as easy to make 6 batches of something as it is 1. What it gives us is a good base – a few crockpot meals to pull out on our busiest days, a marinade to grab the morning of a family BBQ, some muffins to throw in the kids lunch kits. Most of all, it gives us ideas. It takes the guesswork out of dinner time. I like to also take some time at the beginning of each week to plan out which of the meals I’m going to use when, based on our schedule that week, and fill in the gaps with other favourite dishes or farmer’s market finds.
Last month, we made:
Pork Chop Marinade
Rotisserie Chicken Rub
Homemade Granola Bars
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Here is a taste of what’s on the agenda for this month, I’ll let you know how they turn out!
Tex Mex Beef Wraps
Homemade Snack Mix
If the recipe came from a website or blog, I tried to link to it. If there’s no link, it’s either because the recipe came from a cookbook or we made it up! Also, we may not always make the recipes exactly as stated. We often reduce or eliminate sugar or salt, and if a recipe calls for any kind of pre-made sauce we often attempt to make a home made version. It’s all about making little changes and choices towards a healthier life!