Meal Planning

One of the many things that stresses me out is dinnertime. Growing up, my mom almost always had us four kids and my dad sitting down for family dinner. We all griped, and she made the same thing all the time, but it was an important time for so many reasons.
Now I am married with kids, and I want that same tradition. Unfortunately, my husband works til 7 and has a 45+/- minute commute home. Our 3 kids are ages 4 and under, so add that all together and you get no family dinner, a crazy mama trying to make dinner, and then an even crazier mama trying to keep the peace while feeding all the cranky kids, with another hour or two til dad gets home. NOT FUN. Oh, add in that this is what my kitchen looks like (note the size and lack of dishwasher): 

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I got super stressed about this, and at one of my appointments with my midwife (therapist), she suggested Bust-a-meal.com. I was very hesitant to pay money for something that I should be able to do on my own (come up with meals, make a shopping list, and keep recipes organized), but let me tell you, it's been SO helpful. I recommend checking it out, you can get a week free if you remember to cancel your subscription before it starts charging you. It's been a lifesaver. And if you are one of those lucky iPhone owners, there's even an app for the site. My kids have even liked most of the recipes, which is saying A LOT (thank you 4 year old who won't even eat plain pasta if she's in the mood to battle).
 (I wish I was being compensated for this plug, but I'm not)
What tricks do you use to make meal planning, shopping, cooking, etc. easier and more enjoyable, whether you have kids or not?


  1. I plan my meals one week at a time. It works for us, but our 3 kids are a tad older. 4 months, 6 and 7.

  2. My go-to is E-Mealz. For $1.25 a month and knowing they plan their menus around my grocery stores sales lets me know I'm saving WAY more than that $1.25 each week because of them. Good luck getting organized and menu planning, you can do it!

  3. 1. I love the More With Less cookbook.
    2. Working fulltime and coming home to (only) one 3 year old and dinner to make made mealtime stressful and annoying so a weekly schedule with built-in days for leftovers has been my saving grace.
    I sit down on Sunday and make up our weekly list and grocery shopping list and then it's done. I include lunches on it (because we pack them for everyone.)
    I just found that knowing ahead of time what's for dinner has helped so much. I do work ahead of time, also, like, chopping onions and peppers the night before, or even making something the night before when son is in bed that just needs to be heated up the next night. (baked pasta?) Plus, the planning helps me be thoughtful about the food we're eating - balance and trying to incorporate options even though we're so busy.
    sorry to blah blah on forever. I was so burnt-out from last minute dinner planning we needed to save it. So the structure has helped.

  4. Here is the big thing that has helped me since my bday- a food processor!!! Instant vegies, potatoes, sauces, dips, soups etc. it is awesome. other than that? Coooking ahead at once (like on Sunday)and stocking up as much as possible. A rice cooker with lots of toppings or sauces for rice- my kids eat that. Plenty of bagels and hummus and lettuce or cheese etc. Fritattas are fast and easy, having fruit and nuts and chips and salsa around.. and homemade pizza night is pretty easy with premade ingredients like already shredded cheese and simple vegies- and lots of salads all kinds. Oh, and one more thing- seriously, hard boiled and soft boiled eggs with cute salt and pepper shakers. Good luck-I am in that boat too!!