Seriously, meal planning is one of the most adventurous parental activities. Your life does not get much more exciting than preparing what your family is eating during the week. Ironing, washing clothes, and cleaning are up there with exciting parenting skills. All these skills are required when you enter the meal planning level, aka level 9.
That statement comes with a large dose of sarcasm. I’m confident that most parents prefer to sit down with a glass of wine, beer, and/or other alcoholic beverages when they come home from work. Who really wants to go through the grocery shopping list, laundry, and other “awesome” adult duties?
Why even bother with meal planning?
You might not realize that you need to do this. You have to dig yourself out of the rot of cooking unhealthy meals, the regular go-to boring dishes, or even worse, microwave dinners. Many of these rushed cooking exercises elevate your stress levels and eats into quality time with your family.
I’m here to get you ‘woke’ on meal planning and saving money. Meal planning comes with so many parenting benefits, although you need to invest time in proper planning and set aside hours during the weekend to cook the meals.
You will have more time for alcohol and fun times if you are doing it the right way!
‘Woke’ comes in many variations and flavors. Obviously, my reference to being ‘woke’ is a lot less political and might not be targeted by the cancel culture. Who in their right minds would attempt to find political undertones in meal planning?
Wokeness in my post is more to smack you over the cheek, virtually, to wake you up about home cooking. Eating all the crappy premade food is unhealthy and significantly contributes to obesity. The big corporations will not be happy with my continued push for home cooking and will continue to drag you into the rabbit hole and make it affordable.
Being aware of the truth behind things ‘the man’ doesn’t want you to know!
Now, back to the main topic and some more cool justifications for diverting your attention to meal planning. You don’t have to listen to my advice; I ask that you read and consider the idea of meal planning. Perhaps not full-on meal planning, but at least some desire to make your life a little easier.
How to start a meal plan?
Honestly, meal planning is not rocket science. At the core, all you are doing is selecting some awesome meals you want to eat during the week.
You can use a regular notepad or buy specific meal planners on Amazon for $10-15, depending on how advanced you want to be. Most have magnets for the fridge, so your family can see what’s for dinner.
I initially started with a simple notepad, but upgraded to a proper meal planner pad, which also has the grocery list attached.
But, how do I find ideas or recipes? Well, I’m glad you asked!
The Hunt for Recipes
There’s absolutely no point starting with advanced recipes from Michelin-rated chefs or some exotic kitchens that require advanced tools or skills, such as roasting a pig wrapped in palm leaves and baked with scorching stones. You have to pick recipes you can actually make, which does not require significant investment in new appliances.
It would help if you cooked meals that contain easy-to-find ingredients. Otherwise, you will spend too much time and money sourcing these, and it will discourage you from even starting.
Think of this as Home Education level one, where you relearn how to cook, boil and bake. You start simple and gradually move towards more challenging recipes as you excel and grow more confident. Cooking is effortless when you look at famous chefs, but less so when you try to imitate them at home.
Where do you find recipes?
Easy – Instagram, blog sites, cooking websites, food magazines, and cookbooks. Wherever you look, there are recipes, and you might have a favorite TV chef like Jamie Oliver and bought a few books over the years. Dust off these books and magazines, and identify delicious recipes.
I know, instead of flicking through food blogs, magazines, cookbooks, and other fabulous sources, you could be zipping bourbon, slamming tequilas, or just down a few new beers. But listen, you can still get shitfaced on Friday and Saturday nights with your partner, even if you do meal planning.
Also, when at work or browsing the internet, you can always explore recipes or TV food shows. You will find inspiration from many sources, and all you have to do is write down the meals. Once you have identified meals, you can Google the actual recipe.
A word of caution – following the steps outlined in some recipes are not easy to follow, and your creation will never look like the pictures in the cooking book or on Instagram.
Just accept that your dishes will look homemade, which is totally cool.
Why even bother?
You are in control of your own destiny. No one can decide if you should join the meal planning train. It is a journey you might enjoy, or might utterly hate. But, you should not judge before you have at least tried.
I was sceptical at first, but i have grown to enjoy planning meals for the family, and see the joy in their eyes as they taste new dishes. Their appreciation makes me want to try other and more complex dishes.
My moments in the kitchen are my therapy hours. I get to focus on nothing but preparing food. Only a few work related thoughts creep into my brain, and only linger in grey cells for a few minutes. Cooking allows me to detox mentally – all while listening to great music and I might even be surprised by some company from my awesome kids.
If they do help out, then I get to teach them a few life skills, chat about school, and laugh about life. Simply enjoy some quality time and not get distracted by social media, phones, or movies.
For me, there are some clear benefits of planning ahead.
- You learn (re-learn) how to cook
- You support local farms when shopping for vegetables and perhaps meats
- Healthier and more varied food will improve the vitamin intakes
- Only buy what you need = avoid spoiled food in the pantry or fridge
- Teach and encourage kids to learn how to cook
- Remove unhealthy food additives
- Save money on monthly grocery
- Expand your culinary horizon and try dishes from around the world
- Teach kids that both mum and dad can cook
Please share your meal plan adventures. I would love to hear what worked or did not work, and perhaps even share some cool recipes. Happy cooking, my friend!
Before you know it, you are cooking, grilling over the fire, smoking, baking, roasting, broiling, boiling, steaming, and making pickles. Life is good, my friend!
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