Back-to-fall insanity: the mealplan to end all mealplans

Best halloween pumpkin

The CRUNCH:
Back-to-fall-insanity.

CRUNCH deets:
It’s the fourth week of school and it’s taking its toll. Homework and programs have barely begun, yet here you are ordering takeout every other night. The nights that aren’t takeout? Cereal. So with your busy day and the witching hour/swimming lessons/family dinner à la minivan, exactly how do you go about serving something nutritious and delicious night after night… after night?

The FIX:
Meal. Plan. Mealplan.

FIX Deets:
A long time ago in a galaxy close to my home before it was taken over by diapers and LEGO, I used to build robots. Nothing supercool or superterrifying, but still we had fun. Here’s a snapshot of me in my former life:

Women robotics lab automation

Like I said… superfun! About six weeks ago, one of my previous employers (nope, not this jerk) asked me if I’d like to return to that world. I felt proud, excited, and a little bit nervous. Our life is cray-cray already, so something new to throw us out of our groove just might be the tipping point. But then I got to doing one of the things I do best: working the problem. I had to cut back wherever possible, so I quickly figured out my options:

  • Blog less. This saddens me, because I love it so much, but it was a choice between blog and sleep and I already have enough trouble with sleep. The good news is that I’ve written A TON of articles about A TON of issues, which are only a search, browse, or email away. Try me.
  • Hire a cleaner. Turns out I didn’t need to do this, but I’ll save my workaround for a future update. Blog less doesn’t mean blog never!
  • Finesse our meal-plan. Game on.

If you’ve been here a while, you know how much I love me some mealplanning. As I wrote back here, we mealplan it out fam-style to encourage picky eaters and also to take the stress out of the end-of-the-day gong show. But in my quest to simplify, I realized that there’s no need to keep reinventing the wheel. Here’s what I did:

  • Listed it out. I asked everyone for their faves. Except for Ernie – I already know his likes (ribs, corn muffins, cabbage rolls) and dislikes (fish, quinoa, fish).
  • Assigned each meal to a category: vegetarian, beef, poultry, pork, fish. Sorry Ernie.
  • Assigned each category to a day: Meatless Mondays, Red meat Tuesdays, Chicken Wednesdays… you get it.
  • Used my awesomely impressive Excel skills to copy and paste my way to the mealplan that made the most sense. Nobody wants noodles every night, well, at least neither of the adults want noodles every night.

I wanted a four-week plan, but when we actually put pen to paper we came up with a bazillion ideas and no one even mentioned PB&J! The result is a six-week-weeknight-mealplan, so no one gets bored by Taco Tuesday week after week. This also helps simplify the grocery run – I go once a week with my list in hand, period. If something’s forgotten or if we run out, we survive. Saves time, money, and frustration because I don’t have to make “just one more” trip to the store with a grumpy two-year-old/five-year-old/eight-year-old/all of the above.

So what do we do on weekends? Whatever the heck we want! There’s often a party/bbq/festival for at least one of those dinners, and we always have enough staples on hand to whip up something easy and yummy (here’s looking at you, PB&J). And of course, take out’s delightful when you only have it once a week.

Et voilà. I present to you… the mealplan.

Free menu plan

Remember this:
A big life change can be overwhelming or exhilarating, it’s all up to you. Take the time to figure out how to deal and remember, the simplest solution is always the best.

Leave a comment below or email us if you want a recipe or our snazzy template!

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