Well folks, the struggle is real, since our toddler now demands real food, our days of grabbing a frozen meal or ordering take-out / going out have dwindled down. Too much salt for the little one. And let’s be honest, going out with a toddler can be a tiny bit stressful.
Gone are the days that I’d go meet a friend out for sushi, then have a date at whatever restaurant, and then maybe eat something at happy hour at a bar. All that was left to do was fill the other nights with something edible, be it cereal or some delicious meal, for which I had all the time in the world to cook and eat. Now there’d better be food on the table at 6pm or Leo turns into an ankle biter. He’s in a phase right now where most things are just disgusting to him and he winds up eating a slice of toast but we continue to offer everything we eat. Then, every few days he’ll surprise me and mow down whatever we’re eating. It’s super random.
Meal Planning for Our Family
So I’ve been doing the grown-up thing and been making an effort to plan out what we’re going to eat each week. I can only handle so many days with a sudden panic attack at 5:30pm, no clue what to cook and no ingredients on hand. Mom-ing is tough enough as is.
My trusted planner has a section for weekly meal planning, which takes away that panicky moment (so long as I actually went grocery shopping!) but that still leaves the question, what the heck should we eat this week?! I consider myself a foodie so eating the same 10 or so rotating meals is really unsatisfying for me.
Alas, I’ve come up with this little system that seems to work well for us. I pick meals based on these categories: salad, pasta, something made on the grill, seafood, breakfast for dinner, something made in the crock-pot, and global cuisine. Since I don’t feel like cooking every day (because it’s ridiculously hard to do that when your toddler wants to hug your legs and I’m lazy by nature), my meal plan for the week always includes leftovers. You bet. I also shuffle the meals around as the week goes by or say, screw it, and we go out or pick something up. But the list helps. Tremendously!
Shutterfly had a promo for free magnets and that motivated me to turn this informal list of meal categories into a magnet for my fridge. I designed these graphics (yay, your choice of color!) and thought I’d share in case someone else struggles with meal ideas, too. They truly are pretty good inspiration for me when it comes to picking meals for the week.
A dish will often immediately come to my mind when I think about grilling or Asian or Tex-Mex food (“global cuisine”). If I still struggle, I grab my magazine recipe collection or search on Pinterest. Checking what’s on sale that week helps, too.
So here they are, my little meal planning helpers! Download (right click and “Save Image” or hold down long on your iphone and save to your camera roll) and print or turn them into a magnet. Happy cooking and I hope they’ll keep your family from going hangry!