Friday, 13 July 2012

Meal planners. Do you do them?

My attempts at meeting the 'Yummy Mummy' criteria I've set in my head tend to rely on getting the basics right.  You know, like getting enough sleep for instance.  Like smiling a lot as you are so organised and calm you have nothing to frown about.

Unfortunately I'm not the sort of person who can avoid frowning.  In fact my lips, unfortunately, sit at a naturally downturned angle even when I'm doing the screensaver face.  You know the one.  When you are sat staring at the TV or laptop and your face goes into it's screensaver mode; it's default setting.  Just be careful that it's not one with mouth slightly open.  I've found myself watching TV with mouth open before.  It's not a great look.

So; chocolates, beer & banoffee pie for tea!
My frowning would be dramatically reduced if I didn't create things to get stressed about.  Meal times for example.  If I planned out my meals for the week, or even month, knowing who would be in for tea and how much preparation and cooking time I'd have each day.  If I shopped accordingly and followed the plan, then meal times would be stress free occasions where the entire family received a balanced nutritious and tasty meal without fuss.

What do you think actually happens in our house?

Yep.  Unorganised last minute chaos because I don't plan meals.

What does happen is that Hubby goes off at the weekend to do the grocery shopping with the girls leaving me time to get the chores done.  If there are offers on, then great, he buys things with the intention of freezing them thinking we're getting a great deal.  He buys a few bits and pieces for sandwiches (Bread, cucumber, cooked ham - you know the sort of thing).  And we'll probably get a roast, with potatoes and vegetables to go with it.

So that covers maybe three days, realistically.  Because for the rest of the week, though we have cupboards full of tins and packets and a freezer full to bursting, we don't have the fresh food we need to cook with.  So there's me, not even thinking about tea time until I've picked up the girls from school and nursery on my way home from work, arriving home at 4pm and not having a clue what to make for dinner.

Any meat we have is in the freezer and don't even get me started on using a microwave for that!  I don't trust it for defrosting.  Never have. So, as a consequence of this, and the fact that I don't think to take any meat out of the freezer to defrost naturally overnight, then food has a tendency to go to our freezer to die.

What do the girls end up with for tea? Beans on Toast, Sandwiches or Fish fingers, steamed (frozen) vegetables and rice.  It's not inspiring, but I don't worry much on the days they've been to school and nursery as they have hot dinners there, so it's only really a light tea I need to give them.  This is what I tell myself to feel better.  Funnily enough it doesn't work.

It's my husband I feel most sorry for.  He's not exactly getting a lovingly made pie on his return from work at 8pm.  In fact often I've eaten sandwiches with the girls and he is left to fend for himself.  I am such a poor wife when it comes to feeding my man!  And on the basis that I'm home, with the time to cook it, I feel I should be doing so.

Recipe Junkie shared her monthly meal planner on her blog the other day.  I was astounded.  I didn't realise people actually planned meals like that.  It looks fabulous.  There are meals on there I can't even pronounce.

And so she inspired me to have a go.  I am going to set a plan for the next month.  The only tricky thing is; I don't actually know how to cook much!?  Help!  If you have any ideas for quick and easy nutritious meals, feel free to share your recipes. Please!

Stay tuned for the meal planner big reveal next time.


  1. Hmm - I' cringing at the suggestion that having a meal plan might actually put me somewhere on the road to being a yummy mummy... I really think it's a good thing to do though. I do use a lot of frozen veg (you can't go wrong with frozen peas and sweetcorn in an emergency. If you like chicken, and get a good deal on chicken thighs, try Nigella's African Chicken drumsticks (using thighs, or drumsticks...) for starters. The recipe is in Kitchen and if you don't have it I'd really recommend it as a good place to start for easy family food. The sauce takes minutes to make and if you got a deal on the Saturday, you could make up enough to cover 2 or three meals, and freeze already made up in the marinade - then you just have to remember to get one meal's worth out of the freezer in the morning. And they taste great cold too, so if you cook it for the kids tea time, you don't feel so guilty serving the up cold later to your OH (well, I don't)... But don't beat yourself up about it. I work from home so it makes all this sort of stuff 10 times easier. if you don't have the Kitchen book let me know and I'll pm you on facebook or mumsnet or something.

    1. Thank you so much for sending over the African Chicken recipe. It's now proudly on the 'TO DO' list. (Though knowing me, I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for me to do it. I will, but it might take a while!)

      Agghhh. That reminds me. I need to go get the meat out of the freezer for tonight. *runs off in a panic*

      *returns* phew. Disaster averted. And at least I remembered now and not at 4pm!

  2. I try to plan.....but it doesnt always go to plan and certainly not as organised as that. Even my husband isnt organised enough to know when he will or wont be home in a month. Maybe I should start writing mine down tho....

    1. My biggest problem is working out what, if anything, to try and cook for hubby. The girls get a few hot meals at school and nursery, but he just has sandwiches or sushi at lunch time, so I feel I should do something hot in the evening.

      Try writing it down... At the very least you realise that you don't need quite as much food as you thought! :-)

  3. I started meal planning years ago when we had a veg box delivered every week & I had to try to plan meals around that. It was fun then, spending ages looking through recipe books....

    Now I have two kids, and no time and I hate having to do it, but I know that if I didn't we would just end up eating pasta at every meal!

    1. That's exactly what we do; pasta or rice and veg! I really need to get sorted with this though, so along with the plans we now have a slow cooker. I will get organised. I will! :-)


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