Organizing: tips to make meal planning easier (RECIPES INCLUDED)

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Organizing your meal plan for your family … this is a tough one for me.   My dinner-time scenario looks something like this:

3:30- our oldest son gets off of the bus,  our two younger kids start telling me that they are hungry and our baby wakes from her nap.  Let the dinner panic begin!  6 people to feed and take care of… two hours and two hands to do it all.  

Here are my solutions (these great tips are given to me by some of my dearest friends):

1- Write it all out in your NOTES on your phone- recipes & ingredients (my friend Holly Hauck does this).  She gets a lot of recipes from Pinterest (so do I) and puts them into notes.  Take your phone to the grocery store on Sunday & buy what you need for the week.

2- Make a full week’s meals on Sunday (my friend, Kristen Lynch, does this).
Here is her advice:

Always start hard boiling eggs. This is easy protein for any time throughout the week and ready to go.  Just make sure they are cooled and you dry them good before the fridge. Helps keep the stink away!While they are boiling cut up all of your veggies for the week. Keep them separated in a ziplock bag.  Be sure to dry them and also put a new, dry paper towel in the bag. It keeps them fresh longer and they should last about 5 days.Prepare all fruits and veggies first to prevent any cross contamination before moving on to meat.I always make sure I have  one crockpot meal on whatever will be my busiest day of the week. Other things I make are frozen chicken breasts. Keep them frozen and put them in a baking dish. Cook with salt and pepper. You can add them to any dish or stir fry.Meatballs are easy too.   Make them and heat them later in the week. I even make pasta noodles and then cool it, add in some olive oil so it doesnt stick and stick them in a baggie for later in the week.  You can freeze your pre-cooked noodles, too-  I do this.  I just cook them, drain them and throw them into a ziplock bag.  I put them in the freezer.  On the night that I will use them, I get out one bag and let it thaw.
Chili is another easy go to and reheat thing. Cooking for a week on one day really helps to cut down the kitchen mess and the amount of time spent in the kitchen each day.

3- Prepare your dinners at breakfast time.  My friend, Jen Morris, does this.   Our kitchen is the messiest at meal times, and after breakfast is a true {HUGE} mess.   Everyone is busy, trying to get out the door, so we make our messes and the kids scurry along to school or preschool.  This leaves a huge mess in the kitchen.
Jen uses this opportunity to make dinner for that day.  The kitchen is already a mess, so why not just make dinner and then clean up your kitchen only ONE time a day instead of twice (or three times?).


4-  My last tip (this is the one that I currently do) is to use  EMeals.  I  started using this and I am CRAZY ABOUT IT!  I can literally be completely organized when it comes to my meals.     I think that I almost like it the best because it lets you use your food for two meals, so if I make ham on Monday, I will use the ham to make a second meal on Tuesday.    (It is the exact right portion, too, because they ask you how many you will be feeding.)  The best part is:
**They send me my printable grocery list each week, to the grocery store that I choose.  (Aldi, Walmart, Publix, etc… wherever you pick.) 

If you read my series on 40 days to an Organized Home, you know that I am pretty-well-organized, most of the time, but planning meals was one place that I felt I was lacking.  I even took a class on this, hoping that it would help, but it all boiled down to the same thing: if you don’t plan out your meals ahead of time, you won’t be organized and dinner time will be a cause of stress.    

O.K., back to emeals. Here are the monthly meals that you can pick from (you can change it if the plan isn’t working for you, too).  I like to use the crock-pot one during sports season since we are all eating at different times.  

It does cost money to use this service.  It is $30 for 3 months, I think.  Around $58 for the year (my pick) and $96 for two years.    For me, this is completely worth it if it means not having to think about what I should make.

Here is one example of a SLOW-COOKER MEAL: (this is exactly how it comes, with a printable shopping list attached)
Buffalo drumsticks.  I love the little notes – see this one: Kid-Friendly


Here is an example of a CLASSIC MEAL PLAN from a completely different week:   (with the side note: super fast) & it uses leftovers from the meal from the previous day. 

So, like I said- the meals are great and they are always easy to make.  I actually JUST changed my meal plan to the low-calorie one for a month though (thanks to eating so many delicious Christmas cookies!) haha!


If you are looking for ways to save money at the grocery store without using coupons, this post might be helpful.

If you are trying to get organized in your home, I recommend starting at the beginning of my 40 days to an organized home series.  

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