Is it just me who struggles with meal planning? No? Okay then, let’s talk a bit about this beast…and then we’ll talk about this working mom hack I’ve come up with to tame the beast. The act of meal planning has slowly become the bane of my existence on Saturday mornings. I usually wake up dreading the task of searching for, syncing up, and then breaking down recipes for the week ahead. It’s tedious. It’s time-consuming. It gets on my last nerve. That said, it is a necessary evil for productivity and time-management during the week, especially when you’re a working mom. Unless, your ends allow you to pay a meal delivery service (mine don’t) or you’re okay with the anxiety that comes along with “What’s for dinner?” (I’m not.), meal planning is something you have to do to get through the week as smoothly as possible. But it still sucks.
Oh, why do I hate meal planning so much?
Okay, so maybe I don’t hate it, but it’s strongly disliked and a constant recipient of the Michelle Obama-esque side eye from me. It just never works out for me the way I set it up in my head. I end up spending so much time figuring out what to cook, making sure I have the right ingredients on hand, buying the ingredients I don’t have on hand, and eventually scrapping the whole meal because the ingredients don’t really go in anything else and I’m not about that life of making one-time meals with $40 worth of ingredients that can’t go into other meals. See, a mess. Nerves shot. Frustration on fleek. Just a mess. Is it even worth it?
It is, unfortunately. Otherwise, my life during the week would be extremely chaotic. Those hours I spend on the weekend figuring out what to eat during the week are recouped when I walk into my house at 6:00pm and there’s no question as to “what’s for dinner.” I just peek at my handy dandy planner and I’m good. Still though, those hours on the weekend, while saving me time during the week, take time away from my weekend. This means time away from things I actually like doing (like reading) and uh, that’s not cool. Yep, I am one of those “I want my cake and to eat it too” folks. I mean, why else would you have the damn cake if not to eat it?
For this meal planning thing, I needed to figure a way to balance the convenience I get from having everything planned out for the week, with the tedious, stressful, infuriating process of the actual legwork on the weekends.
Enter: Repeat meals.
Working Mom Hack: Repeat meals are the holy grail of working motherhood
First, can I say that I love working mom hacks? Sometimes, I will google “working mom hack” to see if there’s any newly discovered something that can make my life more manageable, more organized, or at least less overwhelming. Sometimes I find some good working mom hacks, other times I find stuff that really shouldn’t be on the internet without a password. But I digress. Back to these repeat meals.
Now, I know repeat meals sound especially boring and sometimes they can be. That doesn’t mean, however, that they have to be. Just because we have chicken every Tuesday, doesn’t mean we have to have baked chicken every Thursday. Or if we do have baked chicken, instead of rice and beans, let’s do cilantro rice or a bean salad with our baked chicken. In our house, Wednesday has always been and always will be “Crockpot” night. Most of the time, it’s chili but sometimes I do something else like a soup or stew where I can use my home grown herbs. Usually, though, it’s chili because it’s easy, I can prep it the night before, and it’s really good. My recipe is basic af, but it hits the spot every.single.time. Wednesdays are busy and to know that I get to come home to one of my favorite meals already cooked, makes the day that much less stressful.
Repeat meals mean that there are no brain cells wasted on coming up with elaborate meals or running around town looking for mysterious ingredients that the blogger forgot to mention is only available 3 months out of the year and then only during a leap year. Nah, man. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I’d much rather look over the monthly menu tracker that came with my Webster’s Pages planner and pick and choose what’s on the menu for the week, based on what I prepared during the weeks before. Repeat meals for the win!
Do you meal plan? What’s your process? Do you prepare a lot of repeat meals? What’s your working mom hack?