Some people think meal planning is for the anal, controlling, Type A mom. As a slacker mom, my goal is always to spend less time on the things I must do (cleaning the house, feeding the kids, doing the laundry) and more time on the things I want to do (reading with the kids, scrapbooking by myself, girls’ nights out). So for me, meal planning is about making more time for me, not being some bionic super mom.
Even when I meal plan, I still slack off.
There are many different ways to be a militant meal planner. You can buy Sandi Richard’s Cooking for the Rushed series of cookbooks, which feature weekly shopping lists tied to the daily menu. You can download menus, recipes and shopping lists from Once a Month Mom and create a month’s worth of freezer meals, or pick up a copy of The Big Cook and do a big day of cooking for a week or more of meals. For tips on doing a group freezer cooking day, see this blog post.
The thing is, I just can’t get into the strict, ultra-organized methods suggested above. Once I realized it wasn’t all or nothing, I enjoyed meal planning more. So how does a slacker mom utilize the tenets of meal planning? Here’s how I do it.
Each week I sit down with the grocery store flyers to prepare our plan for the week, our family activity calendar is close by to accommodate for nights we’ll be eating elsewhere. If I see a day with some extra time, I’ll note it as a cooking day, when I’ll spend two to three hours making freezer meals from ingredients on sale (shepherd’s pie, meatloaf, Chicken Stuffing Bake, etc.). I’ll cross check the plan with ingredients on hand, and mark when we’ll use freezer meals prepared on previous make-ahead days.
I make a shopping list based on the meal plan, and use a day of the week whiteboard on the fridge to note when we’re having each meal (and a reminder the day before to take ingredients out to thaw in the fridge if necessary).
And that’s it! My slacker mom's guide to meal planning.