Back in September we got a big surprise! **Baby #4 is on the way!** Immediately I was in tears….how am I going to do this? I love the 3 I have, but they are a bit on the crazy side! Can I really handle another one?? Well apparently God said I could! (I’m still debating with Him on this one….but I’m not winning.) My old ways of randomly putting out dinners the morning of and going to the grocery store about 50 times a week just weren’t going to work with 4 kids. In fact, I’m surprised I kept that habit up with 3 of them! Sure, I tried to plan ahead as best as I could and I would come up with these elaborate plans! They were awesome plans! But then, they would sit on a piece of paper for weeks until I finally threw it away. See, I’m a planner. Give me some art supplies and I’ll make you a chart for anything you can imagine and it will look really pretty too! But when it comes to following through with my plan, I fall on my face. This was not going to work anymore because soon there are going to be 4 of them…and 1 of me! The odds are not in my favor!! I had to come up with a plan and STICK TO IT!
So I sat and thought about it…..and sat and thought about it some more. I have read and seen all these “crazy” women that cook one or two days and then have things covered for weeks! I could be one of those “crazy” women, right?? I mean…I’ve already got the crazy part down! I just need to motivate myself to take two days a week to shop and cook. Easy! So….I made a plan!
Now, I’m still working on perfecting my plan and I’m sure I will be for a while now. For some reason, it still hasn’t occurred to me to end my menu on a day that is NOT payday. If you know anything about the military and the commissary…you will understand this. If you are not military, let me give you a little example:
You may think this is funny…and well, IT IS!! It’s also very true! The commissary on payday is like going to battle! During this battle you will run into other moms trying to do the same thing you’re doing and praying to survive. You will try to move around screaming kids who are throwing a fit because they want cookies! You will also encounter people that seem to think they are the only one in the store. These lovely people walk down the middle of the isle and just stop randomly so you can’t get by with your cart! Then, God Bless those poor spouses who have to take all their children with them because their other half is gone. Those poor souls are the ones who have been captured by the enemy and are waiting their execution! This makes you want to leave your cart and run to their aid because you know exactly how they feel! So you all can see why going grocery shopping is not one of my favorite things to do! I have to give myself pep talks before going in because I always seem to go on payday!
**First step of the plan** DON’T GO TO THE COMMISSARY ON PAYDAY!
Step #2: Make a menu
I spend hours on this because I love to try new recipes. I hate eating the same thing over and over again. When my husband was in Korea for a year, it was the first time he had to really live on his own. I would ask him what he had for dinner and it was either chili, chicken and rice, and then when one of our dear friends from a previous base went there, occasionally he would say ribs. I really don’t know how he did it! I will rotate my recipes but there is usually about 2 weeks in between….that’s if the recipe is good enough to make it into the rotation. I also plan meals for ALL meals….breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then I have a list of snacks. I have found a blank weekly menu template that I print out and use. The link is below.
My menu for this week is: 2/7-2/13 (I know…all of my military friends are probably thinking….uh oh she’s ending on payday again! I told you this is a work in progress!)
|Friday||Muffins||Mac&cheese/turkey wrap||Chicken Noodle Soup|
|Saturday||Eggs and toast||Potato soup/ham sandwich||French dip sandwiches|
|Sunday||Pancakes||Turkey burgers/fries||Chicken and sweet potato stew|
|Tuesday||Burritos||Chili leftovers||Orange chicken/rice|
|Wednesday||oatmeal||Turkey burgers||Chicken tacos|
For breakfast and lunch I just plug in stuff for each day. Unless it’s leftovers from a previous night, usually everything for these two meals are already prepared and can be eaten any day. Normally we do not have a different breakfast every day either…but I put the different options down because we have the option! I make up about 3 dozen muffins on cooking day and those work for breakfast and snacks. The burritos and oatmeal were made up in advance too. Half of the burritos are frozen and will last a couple weeks. I buy eggo waffles and stick them in the freezer and if the girls want waffles, they know how to make them with little help. I do, however make pancakes and eggs fresh and it’s usually over the weekend. My older two daughters go to school so Monday-Friday they pack their lunch…and yes, for the most part they do it all by themselves. When food is prepared ahead of time, it’s very easy for a 6 and 8 year old to grab the food they want. That, along with prepared and fast breakfast items have made our mornings go much better recently. Lunch is the same as breakfast…during the week, it’s just my husband, two year old and I. We don’t all eat lunch at the same time every day so having individual lunches prepared make it easy for him to get back to work on time. Some weeks I may make a beef stew up and use individual containers for him. On the weekends when everyone is home, I stick to the menu more since there are more little girls telling me they are hungry multiple times before 10am. Now for dinner, I have to stick the menu completely! The biggest challenge to this is to make sure if anything needs to be thawed to put it out the day before.
Step #3: Make your grocery list!
This is a very important step and you do not want to skip it! Remember the commissary story from above? Well it’s ten times worse if you don’t have a list ready to go! On top of running from isle to isle, you will end up spending over your budget and then feel guilty when you get home and have a pile of chips and cookies sitting on your counter. Go through each meal on your menu and check to see what ingredients you have and what you don’t….all the way down to your sides and snacks. I have found that shopping for a week at a time (give or take a couple days) is easier than trying to shop for a whole pay period (which is 2-2.5 weeks for us). It also makes sure that your produce doesn’t go bad and you waste less.
Step #4: Go shopping!
Step #5: It’s time to cook!
For me, this is the most fun part, but also the most tiring when pregnant. I may start splitting it up in two days, one for meals and one for snacks. But the goal is to prepare anything and everything that can be prepared in advance. I go through my menu and decide what I can freeze and make a list. (yup! I have lists for everything!)
Step #6: Finish and RELAX!
This is the best step of all because you should feel accomplished! One or two days of hard work will result in easier meals for the rest of the week. When you are a busy mom, who doesn’t want an easy week?!
Now that you know my process, I can finally start sharing all my recipes and how I cook them! Some of them are single meals and I freeze them for later, some make more than one meal. Either way, they will be cheaper than buying frozen food from the store or ordering out because you are too tired to cook! You will also start feeling better because MOST of my recipes are HEALTHY! They may not all be kid approved, but they are tested on children and you will get their honest opinion of the recipe as well as the adult opinion!
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!