This has taken some time to master (and I use the word master loosely), but I have finally been able to regularly make home cooked meals for my family, even as a working mom. Is it easy? No, but I’ve found some things that have made my life a little easier. I also keep an open mind to the possibility of my plans being completely derailed by a toddler who wants to sit and my lap and read (um, yes, please… we can order pizza in that case!) or getting home too late to even begin to cook the chicken breasts I thawed in the fridge.
All of the ideas I provide are just what works for me-find a way that works for you and makes your life easier so you can spend more time with you family!
Download a Recipe App
No, really… do it. You have no idea how much decision-making time this will cut out of your life. Who has time to make food decisions? Not me… or I, or… whatever. My favorite recipe app is The Recipe Box. It allows you to import from the web or add your own. At $3.99 the price is right and I have two copies-on my iPad and iPhone and you can sync them to one another.
If you’re just not a fan of using apps and you prefer good old paper recipes, browse yours instead of an app!
Once all of your recipes are in one convenient location, it’s simpler to browse your options. Choose a few that don’t require fresh ingredients. There’s nothing worse than planning a week full of meals, then having to throw away half of the ingredients because you don’t actually get to make a few meals. If a few meals are planned that require several fresh ingredients and a few are planned that use mainly jarred or canned ingredients, then you’re more likely to succeed at wasting as few ingredients as possible. I also try to plan very few meals that require me to chop a million vegetables-ain’t nobody got time for that! Usually I select at least one or two crock pot meals. Chop the veggies or brown the meat the night before and the next morning throw it all in.
Start small-plan for 2 or 3 fully prepared meals that week, then work your way to a full week if that’s your goal!
I also keep a small chalkboard in my kitchen to remind my family (ok, ok… so I use it to remind myself) what we’ll be having every evening.
Make Your Shopping List
Keep a running list on your fridge. When you run low on something, add it to the list. Add all of the ingredients you don’t currently have for the meals you planned for the week as well.
Browse Grocery Ads
Choose ONE store you will go to this week. It becomes overwhelming to try to make it to every sale. Choose one store and see what might be on sale that you would normally use or may need to stock up on. Add these to your current list.
Shop ‘Til You Drop or My Personal Favorite… Order Pickup
Yep-spend the money on an order pickup. If time is a problem for you, it’s money well spent. This also allows me to see what might be on sale, but didn’t make it to the sale ad. If an item on my list isn’t on sale and I can do without it another week, I leave it on the list for the following week. If you prefer to pick up your own groceries and have the time, even better!