How to Plan Meals for the Week

Life as a full time working mommy requires a lot of planning. I am one of those weird people who must write everything pretty nice writing...with stickers...see, I told you I was weird. Color coded organizational tools are my anti-drug....I'm a freak.

So, now that we are past that awkward conversation, let me tell you a story. A story about a girl who would eat a handful of peanuts, 2 slices of ham, and a very ripe banana for lunch because she failed to go grocery shopping. Yup, we've all been there. We've all explained to our co-workers, "I haven't made my grocery run" as we nosh on a bag of chips and four grapes. Can I get an Amen? Well, I'm proud to say I've overcome that lack of meal planning phase of life because a girl can't thrive on 3 Red Vines and half a bottle of water for lunch.

This is how I meal plan for myself, my hungry, meat eating husband, and a 15-month old toddler.

Step ONE: Buy a cute mini notebook or start a list on your cellular device. I like to organize my pages like so:

This helps you jot everything down in an organized manner. You know what you're eating, you know what you need, and you can see it in one eyeshot.

Step TWO: Pre-plan. If you're not a planner, this step might make you question how much time I have on my hands, but nay, this step helps in so many ways. My pre-plan to plan goes like this:

- Check cupboards for what I already have.
-Poll the family. "Hey Honey, any requests for dinner this week?" Luckily, my boys are not picky eaters. I can put almost anything in front of them and I wont encounter any resistance. Well, there was that one time I used Soyrizo instead of Chorizo and well, let's just say I am no longer allowed to bring Soy products into our home.
-Gather Cookbooks, Pinterest pins, Magazines, Weekly ads and your Master List
My Master List  consists of meals I've made over the months. They are my go-to meals that I have in my memory bank.

Step THREE: Have a Dinner Formula I know I've probably lost some of you already, but for those of you still with me, I promise you this will make your life a million times easier. Plan it once and you have a sure fire way to plan all your weekly meals. Here is my formula:
  • One Pantry Cleaner Dinner (Using things I already have in my pantry.)
  • One Veggie is the Star Dinner (My feeble attempt to be healthy)
  • One Easy Meal (I can do this with my eyes closed)
  • One Crockpot Meal
  • One new recipe

More often than not, I will ditch one of the above for a take-out meal. We like to call this "Mama is tired tonight" meal.

Step FOUR: Write the dish, write the ingredients, write the dish, write the ingredients I do a mental run through of all the meals I want and write the name of the dish and all the items I would need. Make sure you do that Pantry Sweep. I forgot to do that this week and now I have 3 tubs of Turkey slices. Feels like Thanksgiving.

I also like to list my items in the order that I see it in my market so I'm not rushing around like I'm playing Supermarket Sweep.

This takes me about 20 minutes depending on my level of motivation and whether or not I get stuck scrolling on Pinterest.

I have been planning my meals like this for years and it really takes the stress out of meal planning. I'm in and out of the market in no time and all and I'm not mindlessly dumping items into my cart, racking up my bill.
I hope this helps you in some way or another. Good luck!
What are your meal planning tips?

And These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I. Jimmy Fallon

It started with a video of him and Justin Timberlake dressed up as a roll of wrapping paper and a gift bag, then a video of JF writing Thank You cards that are so witty and hilarious, then a video of him and Ryan Reynolds playing Water War. Dammit YouTube, why you gotta recommend that I watch these videos... you know I can't say no. I've linked a video for you to enjoy. Go ahead and let YouTube be your guide and waste a ridiculous amount of time watching more videos than you need to in one sitting. Bottom line, Jimmy is a funny dude. I approve of his move to take over The Late Night Show.

II. Veggie Chips

It seems a little oxymoronic to me. Veggie chips? That's like Parsnip fries...what? They make those? Anyway, thin slices of my much hated food group makes life a little easier to live. I'm not sure if they are baked or fried but ignorance is bliss and I'm an ignorant summa bitch. Let me eat my chips in peace.

III. Real Techniques Face Brush

So this year I'm uber-obsessive about makeup. Maybe it's because they just opened up an Ulta near my house or because I watch way too many makeup videos on YouTube (hence the JF fiasco of 2013). So anyway, I found some makeup brushes that don't cost an arm and a leg. My Face brush only cost me 2 fingers and a toe or in layman's terms $10. This brush is magical and glides my foundation on like a dream. Now I look less zombie and more human. Can't put a price on that!

IV. Onion Rings from The Habit

I don't know if I'm pregnant or if my inner fat kid is taking control (which I guess those two can be the same thing if you really think about it), but my onion rings craving is insanely strong. I've texted my husband way too many times this week about them. I need them. Covered in ranch. Clogging up my arteries. I need them. The crunchiness of the bread coating, the sweet sting of the yellow onion, the cooling effect of the ranch... oh take me now! Oh and they need to be from The Habit or you can keep them. On second thought, I'll still eat them.

What are your favorite things this week?

Drizzle of Sunshine: Hello Again

1. Oh hello, again. It's me, the girl who wants to still be a blogger but can't make the time to blog. Can you guess who made their New Year's Resolution (again) to revive the bloggy? No pressure, Joanna. Just a whole bunch of free minutes in your day to decide if you want to take that nap on the cozy couch or to write about it. Just shut up and write.

2. Life as a mommy has been great. Joaquin is still the perfect child with perfect big brown eyes. I can still stare at him for hours but the problem is that he wont let me. He is a toddler on the move! Walking, crawling, big balling....he's everywhere. I want to snuggle him tight but he is a squirmy monkey. He is the quintessential boy and if I were to give birth to all boys for the rest of my life I'd be ok with that. Except when I see cute baby girl dresses at Target... I will have moments of not being ok with that.

3. I'd like to put it out there that I need a photographer. I need one that will follow me around my kitchen and take pictures of my dinners then post them to my blog. It would also be helpful if they didn't ask for free meals. I've been testing out lots of delicious recipes these days. Newsflash, I still love to eat.

4. On that note, my husband has joined The Biggest Loser contest at his work. In result, he has finally decided to join me in my never ending quest to eat healthier and tone up the bod. I'm excited that he is on the up and up with his health but I'm irritated that he didn't do it years ago when I nagged him about it. Apparently a nagging wife doesn't work in these parts of the woods. If I knew that all I had to do was hold a contest, I would have done that first. Nonetheless, we are eating clean and I hate it. Pass the fries please.

5. Blog post #1 of 2014....Done.