Theresa was a working mom with almost 3 hours of commute each day. It was a lot of time to dream about spending more time with her kids and husband. Now a stay at home mommy of a 3 and 1 year old, you could say she is living the dream. When you say it, just make sure to giggle a little.
Our family routine has gotten stuck in that dangerous land where what’s for dinner has become, ‘Where should I drive thru for dinner?’
I have realized that the 2+ hours of commuting each day slowly killed any motivation I had to cook and prepare our family dinners. Transitioning to stay at home mom didn’t seem to solve the problem for me either. I guess when you are used to waving your magic wand (aka, swiping your debit card) and watching food quickly appear, it is hard to get used to the planning and chopping and all of the clean up!
Well, I can’t solve the prep and clean-up, but I was recently inspired by this weekly menu planner. The menu planner used your current recipes to help plan a week of meals while creating a shopping list all at once. I loved the idea, but realized it wasn’t exactly the right fit for me.
Not one to be stopped, I worked on my own weekly meal planner that fits on the side of my fridge (a pretty fancy fridge from Kenmore). Okay, I don’t actually own this fridge but before I quit the commute I was working on this fridge’s launch, so I apologize for the shameless (but unpaid) plug of one of my fave products.
I grabbed the supplies to make the meal planner from the local one-stop-shopping store. And, all I really needed were two things: bookmark index cards and an index card holder box (that is the technical name, I’m sure).
The idea is simple. On the front of each index card I write the main dish (and then smaller at the bottom I add a side dish if needed). On the back of the card I list the ingredients.
I usually do two columns: (1) the left with all of the main ingredients (I’m sure that I will have to add those to the grocery list) and (2) the right column with the spices and everyday items (still good to check BEFORE I go to the grocery store).
The bookmark cards that I found came in assorted colors so I tried to be even more organized by color coding the entries:
- Blue = freezer meal
- Green = vegetarian
- Red = red meat
- Purple = fish
- Yellow = chicken dinner (winner winner)
You could just as easily choose different colors for slow cooker, the grill, etc. Do what works for you – that is the beauty of this system.
After that, I made this handy weekly calendar to fit on the side of the fridge.
You can print yours here. Use card stock so that it holds up to the bookmarks. Just cut on the outside of the box, don’t cut the bottom of each page as then will help you to tape the pages together (it is 3 pages long). Then carefully (I hate when people say that) cut the grey lines – this will allow you to “hook” a recipe card on each day of the week. Once you’ve cut and taped you can hang on the side of your fridge.
Then I just select my meals for the week and hang them up. I use the back of the cards to help make my shopping list and If I have a new recipe I want to make I can simply make a new card. And truthfully, I am just making up the recipe cards as I go, I didn’t spend a whole day writing out all the cards. I figure I will just keep adding and eventually I will have all my favorite recipes in my recipe box.
The system makes it super easy to plan and make changes and I think it still looks nice and clean in the kitchen. Plus guests probably look at meal planner on the fridge and think ‘Wow, what a modern organized mom” (ha ha). Or at least forget that they only ever see me wearing yoga pants, but never actually doing yoga.
Hope that you enjoy! Be sure to share any of your tips for tackling the weekly meal plan or a great freezer or slow cooker recipe – I’d love to add them to my recipe index card holder box thing… Well, you know what I mean.