6 09/06/2012 parenting

What’s the plan?

As the September desire to be more organized eeks toward fever pitch, I find myself scrambling for ways to keep both our family meal choices healthy and varied, but also with value and cost in mind. For the most part, I prepare dinners in our household and now, with both boys at school for the full day, I make their daily lunches.

This school year, I vowed I would have a written out plan for all weekday meals that would allow for occasional hot lunch leftovers for Hudson. I would draw up this plan on Friday nights or early Saturday morning prior to going grocery shopping right when No Frills (being cost conscious) opens as the produce is best and the sales are on Saturday. I would take into account the food we would consume on the weekend does not usurp the planning I have made for during the week. I would choose one meal and make it on Sunday morning to provide for at least one dinner and two to three leftover lunches the following day, setting the week off right.

Summer is a gong show, by the last day of school I could not care if they had Pop Rocks and tube cheese for dinner. The remainder of the summer is so built for the mad dash up north on Friday nights, where the meals are fully planned (usually by my sister and stepmother), extremely awesome (see below) and for the most part healthy. This leaves very little thought to the weekday meals where Steph and I still worked and our sons were in camps or at home blowing things up or teabagging each other’s forearms for laughs.

Just one of our many fantastic weekend summer meals at the cottage: 

Curried Chicken Roti with mixes green salad and Moroccan Carrot Salad:

Chicken Roti.jpgBlack Bean Rice with Mango and Roasted Peanuts:

Black Bean Rice.jpgPear Cherry Crisp:

Pear Cherry Crisp.jpg
So the staples are depleted and fresh food is purchased in intervals, an adhoc run up the street that is occasionally inconvenient and often costly. Throw in the fact that my June surgery allowed me to eat anything (and I did), so lets just say I was not proud of our summer meal choices. Thankfully our kids were so active they managed to shed some pounds or grow an inch or two (not sure which).

So, here I am, the day before my Friday self imposed meal planning session, seeking out online tools to facilitate this potential exercise in futility. And I know this topic is so hackneyed and overwritten, both by the parental blogging community and the consumer brands trying to offer many different meal options that involve hazelnut chocolate spread. But I am seeking the power of community anyway.

Fact:  I do basic meals really well.  The tomato based pasta sauces, the chili con carne, the Asian stirfry, the BBQ meats, plus starches, plus green vegetables. 

Fact:  My mother is an awesome cook (I mean awesome) and a very organized person.  This post is a veiled attempt to get her to plan my meals for the rest of school year.

Fact: I try to keep it healthy, but often fail because of laziness and ease of prepared foods. Not the horrific stuff made by robots, but the occasional frozen pizza or chicken fingers have made the rounds in the past.  

Fact:  Hudson, for the most part, is an adventurous eater, trying many different foods from many different cultures, including a wealth of vegetables.

Fact:  Tasman likes peanut butter and jam roll ups. 

Fact:  I don’t bake. Too precise.

So there you have it. I have a partial plan but am looking for ideas for both the actual meals, and the actual planning process.

Do you have a spreadsheet or chalkboard outlining the week’s meals or do you just wing it?

  • Julie

    i’m a wing-er. i really need to plan more cuz i find i waste so much money on food.

  • Aileen

    I despise both grocery shopping and deciding what to eat so I make a meal plan every week and make the grocery list from that. If there are specials I will either buy and save for future meals or adjust slightly. We have busy evenings three days in a row this fall so I will plan one-dish or slow cooker meals for those nights so the food stays reasonably edible no matter when people are eating it. I also keep it simple – soups, pastas and casseroles all with protein and veg included. Also makes great leftovers for me working at home and for my son who will eat hot food at school. My daughter prefers sandwiches or Bento boxes, both of which are easy enough.

  • Erin Little

    I’m in the same boat. Last year I would plan elaborate meals and then not have the energy to cook them. This week, which is crazy for me because the kids are back to school and so am I (working at school that is), I decided to plan very simple meals. It worked! We had Chicken Korma with sauce from a can on basmati rice with broccoli, BBQ burgers (frozen from the store) and sausages with green beans & Caesar Salad (Renee’s dressing), tonight is spaghetti with meat sauce. It’s simple, tasty and easy. Also relatively healthy. So I say, keep it simple. It’s been hard for me to let my gourmet meal cooking self (yes, I was that person) go but I’m much happier, or at least, less stressed out.

  • http://anneryangreen.tumblr.com/ Anne Green

    I aspire to be healthy and organized… it would be some much easier if I were rich enough to have my own in home chef. It would be so lovely to just have healthy balanced meals prepared for me… and if the kitchen fairies would also do the dishes and empty the dishwasher life would be grand indeed. Sigh… OH! And empty the nasty sink trap! I hate that job.

  • http://www.motherjoy.ca Michele Perry

    One word. Pinterest.

  • Tracey

    Oh my word, I’m there with you RIGHT NOW, man.
    I’m sick of the meal planning. I’ve been winging it, shopping as per the week’s specials, but getting around the kids and the gluten-free thing my husband is on (oh, and he’s off corn and dairy now too…) means meal-time is making me bonkers. I think I have to pull out my cookbooks and just peruse them again, to get new ideas into my head, and to dredge up some of the old ones. The turn of the season helps – breaking out the warm-food things over all the cooler summer fare…
    Oh, who am I kidding? I’m sick of the meal planning. There. I said it.

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