Meal Planning for the Busy Mom

Mom What is for DINNER!?

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If you are anything like me I hate the 3:00 question of each day… what am I making for dinner when I get home? Do I have ideas that are healthy and beneficial for my growing boys, or should I go with quick and easy route?

Followed by, do I need to go to the store for this meal? Do I have money to go to the store?  (Sigh)

 If this isn’t frustrating enough, then try  the mad rush to pick up kids, go to the store, fill the cart with food you weren’t planning on purchasing, rush home put all the food away, and start dinner…

Who am I kidding this is when I order a pizza…

 Going from stay at home mom to working mom, this task was more daunting then before! Time with my kids is precious and this dinner routine had me in the pits…

Thanks to my friend Molly, the master of great meal ideas, I have developed a routine/system that makes my relationship with dinner simple and FUN! Yes, I said fun!

Here is my advice! MEAL PLAN!

Did you know that for every $100 spent $20 is thrown away/wasted if you do not meal plan!!!

Meal Planning saves time, money, stress, and you will eat healthier and BE healthier!

Step one: Check your cupboards

Check your pantry, cupboards, ect in your own home, and take inventory! If you need to write down your inventory do so! Start by create meals with ingredients of foods you already have, always have, or really need to use sometime this century! Plan for side dishes using the ingredients you have in your cupboard.  Always take inventory of your kitchen before going to the store, this will eliminate purchasing foods you don’t need.

Step Two: Create a list of meals

Find Recipes you and your family will enjoy. Look for meals that can be prepped and frozen,  or parts that can be frozen, for example the meat, veggies, and seasonings. (We personally stay away from many of the crock pot meals, as we feel they lose flavor). Then create a master grocery list with all items needed to make 5-10 meals. Don’t forget the freezer bags!

 I personally, have really been enjoying the recipes I find at Wildtree that are designed to freeze, be super easy, and made with natural or organic spices and meal starters.Now I have attended some Wildtree workshops on creating freezer meals, and have been around the block a few times now, it is safe to say I have perfected my routine, and my recipe have bees narrowed down to my favorites!

As a newbie, I would pick multiple recipes that have similar ingredients or ingredients in common.

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Here are our favorite staple recipes that I make each month and freeze.

Ranch Chicken Chili

Slow Cooked Italian Beef

Best Burgers Ever

Chipotle Lime Fajitas with Steak or Chicken

Ranchers Chicken Legs

Marinated Italian Steak

Italian Medallions

Fajita Pulled Pork

Honey Balsamic Chicken Drummies

Stuffed Lasagna Meatballs

I have also saved a master Grocery list for these 10 meals. Organized by protien, veggies, and other.

Step Three: Check the local ad, and  head to the store

Check out the weekly grocery ad, and stock up on meat and produce that are on sale, or head to your local discount store, where you can buy meat and other items in bulk. (for extra savings).

Example, if chicken is on sale this week, I will buy extra and create meals for the week, or freeze meals that use chicken.

If you are not into future meal planning and freezing,  but would rather just meal plan for the week. I still recommend looking each week at the ad and prepping your meals around what is on sale. For example, our local store will have a week where pizza supplies are on sale, or chili supplies.

Helpful Hint: Have one day a week be a leftover day, to clean out the fridge and avoid having to throw foods away. Also, look up simple recipes or have ideas in mind to create a 2nd meal using left overs from the 1st. For example, if I had chicken breasts and rice one night, I may take the left over chicken and rice and make tacos.

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Step Four: Getting Organized.

1) Label your bags with name of food/meal and any additional items that are not in the bag, but need to be added when it is time to cook.  You can also label your bags with cooking directions. What is simplest, if you are planning to create these meals again and again, is to create labels that can be printed.

2) Get to chopping! Cut up your veggies and put them in the corresponding bags.

3) Add your seasonings, oils and other misc ingredients

4) Add your meat

5) Leave the air in the bag, seal and shake/rotate the bags to mix the ingredients together

6) Get all the air out, seal shut and place in the freezer

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Step Five: Time to eat

Now this one is kinda important and probably the hardest!

Remember the night before or morning of the day you plan on eating….. Take the bag OUT of the freezer to thaw!

Then when you get home, bake, cook or grill and your meal is done!

So simple, even your husband can manage!

MY FAVORITE part of all this is that I also plan my lunches for work the same way!

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 I will cook up some chicken and rice and veggies on Sundays and individually pack them up into five containers, and put them in the fridge! I think I am the envy of a few in the break room!

You can also put together some salad jars! Packing them this way keeps them fresh for a really long time.

Plus, this daily routine of getting all the supplies out to make ONE salad.

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This post was not sponsored by Wildtree, and all opinions are my own.

Kara W

Who am I? Is it weird that the first thing that comes to my mind is Happy? No, I don’t believe I am one of the Seven Dwarfs, although happy is better than being Sneezy! After having my two children Kaphen (5), and Kyler (3), I lost myself somewhere between the diapers, parenting, and up all-nighters. Now that they are a little older, I have sorted out how to be a mom, a wife and ME! So who is “me”? .....

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