January 27, 2013

So, how do you meal plan?

How do you meal plan for your family?

At our house, I am the only one that cooks. Therefore, I am the master of everything we eat. I am the lucky one that gets to dictate to everyone else in the house what we are having for dinner. For the longest time I really hated this responsibility. I envied the married girls that had a husband that would help in the kitchen. Sometimes, I would fantasize that one day I would get home from a long day at work and find that my husband had made a meal on the down low and was waiting to surprise me the minute I walked through the door.

Well, that never happened...hahaha!

Instead of finding the fantasy I would find my husband (and stepson) at the door like two pelicans with there beaks wide open asking me, "What's for dinner?"

Oh how I hated hate that question!

After 7 years of hearing that question it physically makes me purse my lips. I guess it is because I got burned out on cooking day-in and day-out the first year of marriage. I got really burned out on the grocery shopping. It's the process of going to the grocery store, circling the aisle for what you need, then loading and unloading of the car and the organizing of the groceries in the fridge and pantry that burned me out. I was doing this every single week alone. I hated it!

However, the cycle didn't last forever. It all changed once I had my son.

I no longer was able to cook every single night. I wasn't able to dedicate an hour or more to chopping, sauteing, assembling and baking. For the first two months I had a baby feeding off of me and was physically unable to cook. After that, I was so drained from being up with a baby that never slept. My son was (and is) very high maintenance.

I stopped cooking. I would still prepare meals here and there, but for the most part, my kitchen was closed. We started eating a lot of deli foods from the supermarket, skillet meals from the grocery store freezers and fast food. I felt very overwhelmed with the responsibility of feeding my family and I started to demand my husband's help.

To his credit, he really stepped it up and started to help with the grocery shopping and continues to offer his help now even though I'm back on my bearings and my son is more self-sufficient.

Then, as if life wasn't hard enough, I got a new job that was an hour away from home. So many nights I would get home so late that logistically I wasn't capable of making a meal. We relied heavily on skillet meals and oven baked pizzas.

In relation to food, this was the most unhealthiest time of my life. We ate the worst foods because they were convenient and in my heart I was completely frustrated because I felt guilty. Guilty that I couldn't take proper care of my husband. Guilty that I wasn't being a good wife and stepmom. Guilty because I knew that feeding my family junk wasn't what I believed in. This lasted for a little over a year and during this time I realized that in order for us to live the life that was important to me (i.e. a healthy life), I would have to find another job closer to home.

Yes, not being able to eat properly motivated me to change my job. Hey! Health is very important to me and so is caring for my family.

So I found a job closer to home but the damage was done. We gained a lot of weight and the bad habit of eating fast food had become the fungus of our lives. It took several months to break the habit. It then took me several more months to get back into preparing menus for the week and grocery shopping only once a week. Finally, this year, I made it my resolution that I would plan our menu for the week and grocery shop only on Sundays.

So far, it has been a success. So far, that ugly Surf Shack chalk board (pictured above) has been pretty handy at keeping my focus on what I want to cook for the week.

And as an added bonus, neither my husband nor my stepson have asked me once, "What's for dinner?" :)

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