I am on a mission to make my life more simple – our homeschool, our schedule, my WAHM life, keeping my home.
And today I’m starting out with one of the biggies: simplifying our meals, snacks, and grocery shopping.
As a homeschool mama, some days I feel like I spend all day in the kitchen. And while I enjoy cooking and serving my family delicious food, I get super tired of the I’m hungry! What’s there to eat? conversation that happens on a daily basis x 4 children.
Why Simplify Meals, Snacks, and Grocery Shopping?
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So why did I choose food as one of the areas to simplify?
Because it’s sucking up too much of my mental energy.
I don’t want to spend a ton of mental energy on running around in circles with preparing meals and snacks. I want to spend that energy on my husband and my children.
I mentioned in the first post in this series, that I feel like I do a pretty good job of not over-committing our schedules and we have plenty of free time to play and explore.
But it’s me that runs from thing to thing to thing, even if I’m only doing that mentally.
It’s exhausting and I don’t want to live that way any more.
If I can get the daily food and grocery shopping issue settled, then that’s one mental area I can free up to devote to my family.
Please know that these ideas are very simple, but they are saving me a lot of time, which is my goal.
Find the ideas that might work for you and your family, and leave the rest behind!
Make a More Detailed Meal Plan in my Spiral Notebook
I use my cheap-o spiral notebook for just about everything (which is another post for another day!). Each week, I make a detailed meal plan, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Since January, my husband and I have eaten the Trim Healthy Mama way, and that definitely requires planning! I write in 5-7 days’ worth of meals at the time, including the page numbers of the recipes.
That last part right there – including the page numbers? That’s the key.
It keeps me from flipping from page to page trying to find the one little recipe I want to make.
If I’m not using a recipe out of the THM book, I take the recipe out of my recipe binder and tuck it into one of the back pages of my spiral notebook to use later in the week. Or I write which cookbook the recipe is in, so I don’t have to search through three of them trying to find it.
I can’t tell you how many times this one little trick has saved me!
Also, by planning out the week’s meals in such detail, my husband can easily see whether he’s supposed to eat S or E for the day. The week’s meal list stays open on the counter for me to look at frequently, so my husband can also see what meal is coming his way.
(I realize this means nothing to you if you don’t eat the THM way. Just throwing it out there for those of you that do!)
Plan Snacks for My Children
Even though I serve my children protein-packed breakfasts, they inevitably want a snack when mid-morning rolls around.
There are two things I do to make snack time easy (read: not time-intensive for mom):
♥ I have a written list of things they can eat posted on the fridge – cheese sticks, gluten free pretzels, bananas, apples with peanut butter, a scoop of peanut butter on a spoon, a few slices of lunch meat.
The older ones can read the choices to the younger ones and then they can fix a snack for themselves. So simple for me.
While my olders (10 and 8) are fixing snacks, I can go roll the laundry or step out on the porch alone for 5 minutes.
♥ If a snack needs to be in portions, I go ahead and put it in baggies.
I always portion out our GF pretzels because they’re expensive and I don’t want them eaten in one sitting. Plus, portioning out snacks makes it easy for my littles to grab their own bag and go sit at the table for their snack.
Cook and Chop in Batches
We don’t eat out very often, so I cook at home a lot. It’s expensive for the 6 of us to go out and it’s pretty difficult to eat out gluten free, so we tend to eat at home.
Once or twice a week, I spend a bit more extra time in the kitchen cooking batches of things we will eat throughout the week.
I cook extra ground beef or chicken for spaghetti or casseroles.
I take time to chop up vegetables and fruit (cantaloupe, watermelon, etc). These go in my Tupperware FridgeMates, which keep food fresher for longer than anything I’ve ever tried. No, I don’t sell Tupperware, but I’m a happy customer with this particular product.
I make a double batch of breakfast cookies or whatever other goodie we’re eating for breakfast.
I shred a lot of cheese (salads, casseroles, eggs, etc.)
I always cook a quadruple batch of pancakes on Saturday morning so we’ll have breakfast for Sunday morning also.
Those steps I just listed are such time savers to me because it prevents me from spending long days every day in the kitchen. It usually ends up only being 2 maybe 3 longer days, which I can totally live with.
I Buy As Much Convenience As I Can
Between eating the THM way and being gluten free, we eat an almost exclusively whole food diet.
(I will readily admit that I occasionally long for the days when we used to order pizza!)
Because we can’t buy frozen lasagna or the like, convenience foods are pretty much off of my list.
However, I do occasionally buy broccoli and cauliflower that are pre-cut. On weeks when I know life is going to be crazier than usual, these are enormous time savers.
Since these veggies are pre-washed, you can just open the bag, and put them in the steaming basket. Or put them on a plate with ranch for the kids and it’s an easy side dish.
Also, I buy Tyson’s frozen grilled chicken breasts to keep in the freezer. I eat these in a quick homemade soup or dice into a quick chicken salad for lunch a few days each week.
The perfectionist side of me screams that it’s horrendous that I buy frozen grilled chicken instead of just grilling my own and freezing it. However, the side that screams to simplify quickly takes away my guilt. 🙂
My Husband Does Our Grocery Shopping
I’m sure it makes a few of you cringe that my husband does our grocery shopping.
But me? Oh I’m fairly certain I hear angels singing every time he says, “Have you made the grocery list? I’m going to the store tonight.”
Oh be still my heart that my man will go to the store.
I detest grocery shopping and see it as a time waster for me. There’s only 9 million other things that I need to be doing.
So my dear husband took on the task and removed it from my plate. He’s a good man.
This one thing has probably simplified my food life the most.