I get questions all the time asking about how I “do it all” while still cooking from scratch for my family. I figured this would be a great place to explain.
First off, we eat out about once per week. We drop the oldest 4 kids off for their church groups and Michael and I go get something to eat. We call it our “date night” (even though we still have a little one with us). To be completely honest, I have at times felt guilty for not staying and volunteering at the church were my kids are enjoying their groups/clubs, but I have finally rested in knowing that now is not the season that I can add more in to our lives, and the 1.5 hours of alone time I get with my husband and having a conversation without interruption once a week IS important.
Second, we eat a family dinner every Sunday afternoon at my In-Laws house, and even though we contribute food, I am typically not the one that plans or provides the main dish.
So that leaves 5 dinners, but subtract one because we always have a “must-goes” night (aka: leftovers) that typically lines up with my photography schedule that week so my husband doesn’t have to cook if I am working.
So now I am left with 4 dinners to plan/prepare/cook each week.
But wait… every week I make sure to choose 1-2 meals that I can double the amount and freeze for a second meal… So that is one more off the list.
So realistically I am only cooking a “whole meal” in the kitchen 3 times per week. My life is CRAZY, but when you implement Taco Tuesday, we are talking about only having to make an “involved” meal twice a week. It’s doable. It’s totally doable.
Ok, so now that we have carved out the time, the next step is to be intentional with those 2 nights. I am very whole foods focused, partly because of my autoimmune issues, but also because it’s simply healthier. I also personally can’t eat grains or any refined sugar at all, but that doesn’t mean that I have cut it out of my families diet completely. My kids and husband eat sandwiches all the time, but I have almost completely substituted our sweets with honey alternatives. Ultimately, whatever your personal food values are, the point is to be more intentional about food and less spontaneous. 😉
I found an app called Plan to Eat (https://www.plantoeat.com/ref/1a4aae444b) and it literally has saved SO MUCH TIME and completely changed how I meal plan. You plug in all of your favorite recipes, can drag and drop what you want to eat on each day of the week and then it spits out a shopping list for you all organized by department. It syncs between your desktop computer, tablet and phone, so you can literally meal plan with a phone in one hand and two squirming children piled on top of you while sitting in a recliner. After that, I click on over to Walmart, add everything on my grocery list to my cart, set up a store pick up time (http://r.wmt.co/v/Jenni_12) and then I am DONE!
Plan to Eat is $4.95/month and Walmart pickup is FREEEE! If you want to only consider the financial aspect, I EASILY save that much money just by not walking in to the store and having the opportunity to add some “extras” to my cart while I am cruising the isles. However, I feel that the intangible aspect needs to be stated as well…
- I don’t have to manage 10 little hands and 10 little feet in a grocery store
- I don’t have to listen to “MOM!!! Can you buy this for meeeeee????” over and over again
- I also don’t have to deal with my 2-year-old protesting being strapped in to the cart
- I don’t have to hear “you look like your hands are full” from strangers that think they are being funny, all while trying to round up everything I had on my list.
- AND, I don’t have to ask my husband to stop at the grocery store on his way home…
So yeah… Long story short… $5 a month? It’s worth every single penny.
If you want to check out some of my FAVORITE recipes, find me on Plan to Eat! (send the request to firstname.lastname@example.org) <3
Ultimately, when I don’t have good, healthy food that is ready to cook available in the house, the chances of us eating something we shouldn’t is so much higher. I don’t enjoy meal planning, and I honestly don’t enjoy cooking either, but with this method, I can be intentional about our food AND it only takes me around 15 minutes to plan and order a whole weeks’ worth of meals. That is a huge win in my book!
If you want to see what I am up to with the Fine Foods Unrefined cook book, head on over to www.finefoodsunrefined.com or sign up for email updates! Before we go to print, we will be looking for recipe testers and periodically releasing some of our favorite recipes to those on the email list!