I've been on a quest to become more organized lately. With both me and the hubby working full time and starting our foster family and our family very soon I had to come up with a new plan.
I'm sure you've all been where I was at. It would get to 5 pm, the hubby would be on his way home, I'd been working all day and barely had time to jump in the shower before he got here let alone prepared supper. I wanted to follow my meal plans very much but the days when I did, I would end up cooking until much too late and then I was exhausted by the time supper was finished. My house seemed to be a mess all the time and I just couldn't keep up with it! Sound like you? Well, I hope the ideas I have and the charts to print over the next few days will be helpful!
The first place I started to organize was the meal plan. I loved meal planning but it wasn't working for us. So I decided to start Make-Ahead Meal Planning. Not freezer cooking, not once a month cooking, but my own little version of all those things put together. I just call it Make-Ahead cooking. It's a mixture or cooking from scratch, freezer cooking, on day cooking, meal planning, and more.
Since this is fairly new for me, I plan on expanding more ideas for this on the site soon. Right now, if you need Make-Ahead meal ideas you can find them all listed HERE and don't forget about the Mixes recipes HERE. You can also follow along with my Meal Plans.
The idea behind combining several different things is to have space. Freezer cooking takes up alot of space, and even though we have spare freezers we use them to store bulk meat so I don't have alot of extra space there. Nor do I have alot of extra space in the pantry. I've seen books and ideas on how to dry alot of your food and store it together that way.
So Make-Ahead meal planning is a nice combo of all those things and if you watch the meal plans that I put up on Monday's you can see this plan at work. Every 2 weeks I will post my meal plans. I feel like planning meals every 2 weeks is much easier to handle that having to come up with a whole month all at once. It also breaks your grocery shopping into 2 times per month, which can coincide with paychecks. Also, instead of having to cook for a full day (which seems exhausting to me!) if only takes a few hours to make up all the things you need for 2 weeks.
To help you with this meal planning, I made up this cute little chart that looks just like the one I use! It has just 3 simple categories: Date, Main Meal, and Extras. I've seen some incredibly complicated meal plan charts and I just don't think they are necessary! You can save this chart and print it off whenever you need it:
See? Simple and cute, and so easy to write up your plans and stick right on the fridge! So how do I make my meal plans? Here's a step by step list:
- Look thought cookbooks and write down recipes you want to make. Make sure you have at least 6-7 different recipes.
- If you can, pull out all the recipes, or write them all down on one sheet so you have them all together in one place.
- Look through the recipes and see what you need to add to your grocery list.
- Make a list of the easiest way to complete the meal plans. For example, last week I started on the pizza dough first because that goes in the bread machine and needs 1.5 hours so I knew if I got that in first I would have 1.5 hours to get other recipes worked on and that time to make the chicken filling I needed for the chicken calzones I was going to make to fill pizza dough pockets.
- Pick your meal making day and stick with it. Make sure you leave at least a few hours to get it all done.
- When making your meal plans and when you are packing things up for the freezer or pantry don't forget to think about snacks, lunches, take-along lunches, and breakfasts.
- On your Make-Ahead day, when you take out an ingredient, leave it out until you are all done. That way it's right in front of you and you don't have to keep running back and forth to the cupboard or pantry.
- Plan leftover days in your meal plan. It will happen!
Try and plan a good combo of freezer foods and pantry mixes. And it's ok to still have to bake some from scratch, but having a mix for it will make your life so much easier!
If you need extra help with meal planning make sure to check out my ebook, Meal Planning Made Simple!
What do you think about Make-Ahead cooking? Do you do any or part of it right now?
Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.