As a working parent you need to be organised. Sadly I am lacking in this department and most days end up running around like a headless chicken. As much as I would love to I’m not really in a position to offer you many working mum hacks* but there is one thing we seem to have become pretty good at: meal planning.
Family time is precious during the week and I love sitting with Willow at the table while she eats. That and a big cup of tea really help me unwind after a busy day at work. We have a giggle; she throws various food stuffs at me and refuses to have her face wiped before we start bath and bed time. It’s also nice to be able to sit down with Anthony after she has gone to sleep and enjoy our meal together without having to give too much thought about what we’re eating that night.
Meal planning saves us time and money in a few ways:
- When we go food shopping we write a list before we go and stick to it (mostly) so we’re not walking around throwing random things into the trolley. This helps us to stick to our budget too.
- We know what meals we have planned for the week so whoever gets in from work first can make a start on the prep. No more staring into the fridge hoping for divine inspiration.
- If we have left overs from a meal either myself or Anthony will take that to work for lunch the next day. Similarly if we have a roast then there is usually enough meat left for sandwiches for a couple of days.
Once you get into the swing of things, it’s really easy. It just requires a bit of thought up front about what you want to eat in the week ahead. Also don’t forget to check your calendar to see if you are out in the evening for any reason. If you are then you will probably either need to buy something quick to make or light to eat if you’re in a rush.
I’ve never mastered batch cooking, although I know it works really well for some people. If I’m making spaghetti bolognaise or chilli then I will try to remember to portion some off to freeze for Willow for another time. We make as many meals as possible from scratch but there will usually be one or two readymade foods like pizza in there because some nights you just want to throw something in the oven with minimum effort. We’re not regimental about things. We swap and change meals around depending on what we feel like eating or how tired we are.
Willow has her tea at nursery three days a week so on those days we don’t make her a meal but give her a snack such as fruit or yoghurt when we get home.
Example meal plan
|Sunday||Chicken roast dinner||Chicken roast dinner||Chicken, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, Yorkshire puddings.||There was enough left over for Willow to have chicken dinner on Monday night – she loves a chicken dinner!|
|Monday||Thai green curry||Chicken roast dinner||Chicken breast, coconut milk, red pepper, broccoli, packet microwave rice, vegetable spring rolls||We already had half a jar of Thai green curry paste left over from a previous meal|
|Tuesday||Chicken pizza, garlic bread and salad||Eats at nursery||Aldi pizza, lettuce, cucumber and peppers||We already had garlic bread in the freezer|
|Wednesday||Spaghetti bolognaise||Eats at nursery||Mince, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, spaghetti, mushrooms||Portion some off to freeze for Willow|
|Thursday||Chicken Cacciatore||Chicken Cacciatore||Chicken breast, chopped tomatoes, black olives, packet microwave rice, asparagus|
|Friday||Fresh fish cakes, sweet potato wedges and salad||Eats at nursery||Aldi fresh fish cakes, sweet potatoes.||Salad left over from Tuesday.|
|Saturday||Takeaway or eat out|
Other shopping list items
We also make sure that we have lots of fruit and snack items and food for our lunches: bread, crumpets, milk, cheese, ham, tuna, blueberries, bananas, watermelon, humus, olives, yoghurts, rice cakes.
Before you say it, I know there are no sweet things in there. I’m really strict with Willow about giving her sugary food (she gets her fair share at nursery and Grandy’s house so she’s not going without). Don’t worry though; Anthony has a stash of biscuits that we stock up every so often and we have ice cream in the freezer for treats.
Make no mistakes there will usually be a bottle of wine (or two) on the list. A large glass of red is the least we deserve for surviving another working week.
So our clothes might be a bit creased and the house looks like it’s been trampled by a herd of wildebeest but we always have a full fridge and full bellies!
Do you meal plan? Let me know if it works for you.
*apart from the Babybell trick. Did you see it on my Instagram? If you need to get anything done just give your kid a Babybell. You can get a good twenty minutes out of one of those bad boys from the unwrapping, peeling and eating process. 20 whole minutes! The possibilities are endless….You’re welcome.