Do you suffer from the 5:00 weeknight dinner scramble? You know the one….you get off work at 5:00 p.m., hop in the car to head home, and then your brain kicks into overdrive.
“What do I have for dinner? Do I need to stop by the store to pick up a few more ingredients? Is there enough time to meal prep and clean up before taking the kids to practice? How much homework will they have tonight because I need to factor that into everything as well….oh, and get them into bed on time. Forget it! Tonight I’ll just stop by the drive-thru to pick up dinner!”
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Is this you? Do you run around like a chicken with your head cut off during that bewitching hour?
I’m all about making your life easier. I want you to accomplish what needs to be done by living proactively.
You wear many hats throughout your day, and in order for you to feel less chaos, you’ve got to put systems in place in order to make that happen.
Would you agree?
Enter, meal planning.
Before I started meal planning every week, I would head off to the grocery store with a small list in hand, but I hadn’t really planned what we would be having for dinner every night.
I’d have an idea, but more often than not, I would gather inspiration in the aisles of the store, most of the time having to double back for more ingredients as that inspiration came to me.
Yep, I was the crazy lady that went down the aisles multiple times because I wasn’t prepared.
It was time to simplify our life
I wish I could tell you that I started meal planning because of an epiphany I had to help me get organized, but truthfully, it was because my husband started doing the grocery shopping for me.
You see, my chronic illness makes it somewhat of a challenge to go in public. I get severe migraines from perfume and cologne, and for some unknown reason, our local shoppers absolutely bathe in fragrances.
It took a little getting used to because I knew in my head what I needed every week and it created more work to fill out a grocery list than it was worth…. or so I thought.
Now I’d have to plan everything out and write it all down in the order the store was laid out so that I didn’t create more work for the mister.
Fast forward several years and it’s turned into a huge win at our house!
All of our meals are planned in advance every week.
Each morning I don’t have to think about what we’ll have for dinner, whether or not I have the necessary ingredients, or if I’ll have enough time to thaw what’s needed.
It’s already been done and that’s a huge win for not just me, but also my family!
What it looks like
Every Saturday I spend about 20 minutes planning out our meals and creating a shopping list.
I consider what days I’ll be home throughout the week and which days I won’t. This allows me to plan meals that require a little more prep on the days I’ll be home and meals that are easy to throw together on the days that I don’t get home from work until after 6:00 p.m.
Time management at its best, my friend!
You’re a busy woman and you’re spread thin enough as it is. Adding the three main components of being the master chef (planning, shopping, and preparing) is far easier with a meal plan.
Reasons you need a meal plan
- Completely eliminates the 5:00 scramble.
- Makes meal prep easier by already knowing what’s for dinner.
- Forces you to eat healthier than if you had stopped by the drive-thru for that greasy fast food.
- Keeps you within your weekly budget by not eating out.
Meal planning tips
If you are new to meal planning, here are some easy tips to help you get started.
- First and foremost, know your grocery budget before hitting the store. (We use a cash system, so my husband takes the grocery envelope with him to the store, which prevents him from spending more than what we have budgeted.)
- Plan your weekly meals around the current week’s sale items. If chicken is on sale this week, plan a couple of meals around that. Ground beef on sale? Have a meal that incorporates it.
- Start with only dinners until you’ve gotten the hang of it. Then you can begin to add breakfasts and lunches to your meal planning.
- When you get the groceries home, prep anything that can be prepped ahead of time and toss it into the freezer. In the morning before heading out, pull out anything that needs to thaw. This is a great way to decrease your prep time on dinner each night.
I’ve become a time management junkie (which you may already know about me) and meal planning is one of my favorite strategies for streamlining by time, making life less chaotic during the 5:00 scramble, and keeping us within our budget.
As with any time management strategy, you have to implement in order for it to work. So don’t just talk about it…..get out and do it!
I challenge you to meal plan for just one month and see how it goes. I have no doubt you’re going to love getting rid of that dreaded 5:00 scramble! Comment below and let me know how it goes for you!
Until next time, my friend……
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Tammy Rotzoll is the founder and owner of Footprints of Inspiration and podcast host at A Faithful God Podcast (which can be found on your favorite podcast player). She lives in Virginia with her husband and together they’re learning how to navigate their fun, new adventure as empty nesters.
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