Meal Planning

Meal Planning is a simple way to plan ahead each week, saving time and energy.

Meal plan one day of the week. Grocery shop the next. Prep food the next day if need be. Don’t feel like you have to do it all in one day.

Meal Planning

Plan out the week’s events, appointments, and meetings before you try to start meal planning.

You will likely end up switching days or planned meals being replaced by freezer food or eating out sometimes, so this is just a rough outline to get us started, ever-evolving.

To get started:

  • Make list of 10 most popular family meals. What foods will your family actually eat?
    • leftovers
    • crockpot/instapot meals
    • freezeable meals
    • eating out
    • snacks
  • Plan one month of meals
    • use the list you just made above
    • use pinterest for ideas
  • Get EVERYONE involved/contributing!
    • Everyone gets to choose a meal one day of the week or one protein/fat meal
      • i.e. Monday: chicken, Wednesday: lamb, etc or Mom Mondays, Kid 1 Tuesdays, Dad Wednesdays, etc.
    • Everyone should contribute either by prepping, cooking, or cleaning etc.
  • Double check “to-buy list” is inline with food budget (and only buy what’s on the list)
  • Which day of the week is it best to grocery shop at your preferred location? Double coupon Wednesdays?? Produce delivery day?
  • Plan freezer meals for upcoming weeks (work late night, events @, yoga night, etc) so you don’t have to stress last minute.

Your meal planner can totally just be a blank notebook where you write the meals and creat your grocery list.

We really liked using a magnetic dry erase board on the fridge so that we could add in any other big events or appointments that were going on in the week.

I love this simple “Weekly” notepad with blank boxes for each day, too. It makes a great meal planner, but it’s so versatile, it can be used for infinite things.

If you want to plan more than just dinners, this “Meal Planning” notepad has additional space for breakfast and lunch!

If you’re like me and want to keep all of your grocery list separated by type of food (i.e. location in the store), you might dig this “All out Of” notepad where you can just quickly check off boxes on items you need.

 

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Making Time, Space, and Energy for Creativity

What makes you feel creative? The last time you created something that brought you joy, what inspired you? What kind of environment were you in?

For me, being inspired enough to actually create (not dinner, or another load of laundry) requires my environment to be in harmony.

If my house is messy and there’s a mountain of laundry, I do not feel compelled to spend my free time whipping up new soap recipes. It’s hard to justify lugging out the sewing machine to do some hemming when there are dishes and a mountain of laundry to wash and put away.

For me, I love creating soooo much that it’s vital that I make time for it. Routines are a great way to save time and make our household flow soooooo much better. We’ve found that just having a plan for how the week is going to go free up a lot of time spent trying to make choices at the last minute.

I’ve found the following ways to be really great ways to create more time:

Sunday Review

Take time on this one day of the week to plan out the week ahead. Check everyone’s schedules, activities, and wants (like time for you to work solo) for the week and combine them onto one clear, visible place that everyone sees on a regular basis.

Below is our weekly calendar on the fridge. It’s also the home of our grocery and to-get list.20160218_141444.jpg

We sit down with both of these boards every Sunday before our weekly grocery shopping trip so we know exactly what we need for the upcoming week… which brings me to the next time-saving nugget…

Meal Planning

When the weeks meals are planned ahead you eliminate those extra trips to the grocery store. You also save a ton of money by not buying items that don’t end up getting used and by not buying extra junk that’s not on the list. Plus, this way everyone in the family gets to pick/cook a meal and will eat dinner at least one night a week. 🙂

It’s best to plan a few very simple staple meals for the week and then fill in with more complicated meals and new recipes for a day or two. Plan the meals you’ll be dining out. Help your kiddos plan their meals and gather what they’ll need to cook them. The earlier the kids get involved in this process the better. Kids develop their critical thinking and decision making skills by practicing.

Laundry Routine/Rotation

Laundry never ends. We just have to accept it and move on. Your laundry will never be “done”. This is an every. damn. day. kinda deal. It’s more of a rotation and a habit you get into.

I’ve found that the best way to make it as fast and painless as possible is by adopting the following strategies (which apply to multiple kinds of tasks):

Do small loads. This is best implemented by using small baskets. Quicker to put away and not as overwhelming as a mountain of clothes. Wash when it’s full. Not overflowing.

Wash often. Make changing out a load part of your morning routine. Brush teeth. Change laundry. Rinse, lather, repeat. Do the same at lunch or dinner. Having a set time that you pop a load in and out is easy to remember and steady keeps the laundry train a movin’.

Get everyone involved. Have everyone “put away” their own clothes (which can even mean just having them fling clothes into a low drawer or basket). The little ones feel proud for helping, and though it may take a little bit longer, they are learning responsibility and taking ownership of their items. It will pay off later. If your kids aren’t eager to help out, offer incentives (see next item).

Chore Chart / Everyone’s Opening & Closing Duties / Household Flow Chart

Chore charts are a good visual for everyone to see and serve as a great tool for accountability. Not only are chore charts great for kiddos, but they are also awesome for mom and dad. When the kids see that mom and dad are also checking off their to-dos, it makes them want to participate. Offer exciting rewards for getting chores done (not punishments for not doing them). Also, not calling it a ‘chore chart’ helps reluctant family members get on board a little easier. Make it into a fun game for the family. Teamwork.

Pinterest is an amazing resource to find free, printable charts. You can also check etsy for some really cute and custom chore charts.

All Items Have a Home

Have a designated spot for EVERYTHING. If you have to look for something in more than two or three spots, it’s time to check yo’ self. Keep things with their like-items. Don’t have a bunch of the same things strung about in different places. Keeping everything similar together prevents you from losing things or buying multiples.

Once you feel like your house is in (relative) harmony and you’ve scheduled yourself some proper time in the week, it’s time to make space.

What area of your house makes you feel good to be in? Is there a room or area that is beautifully decorated or home to family pictures that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Or do you love being outside in the breeze and listening to the birds? Go to your nearest favorite place.

It’s important to have a designated creation station. A closet makes a perfect mini artist studio but so does a tote bag or a storage bin. Even if it’s just the corner of the coffee table, clear a space to work.

Make sure you have all of the tools you need. Favorite paper to write on. Favorite utensil to write with. Colored pencils. Paint. Charcoal. Oven. Chainsaw. Whatever. I’m a big proponent of kits. There can be a kit for everything, literally. If I’m working on sewing, I have a sewing kit (plastic bin with all of my sewing supplies). I have an organizing kit that I take to all of my sessions with me. When I was doing cosmetology, I had my hair, skin, and nails kits. A kit is just an itemized list of things that you’ll need for any specific task and then all of those items organized into some area or container. Compile one.

Now that I’ve scheduled the time and made a work space, I’ve found that I have a heck of a lot more energy for creating. I feel more inspired when my mind is less full of lagging chores and looming obligations. When I know that things are operating (at least somewhat) smoothly, I can breathe a big cleansing sigh and open up my heart.

When I create something that I have put my love and energy into, I feel like I’m breathing life into the world and into myself. That’s such an energizing feeling. The more I create, the more energy I have for creating. It’s a snowball effect. Even if you don’t get into a laundry system or plan any meals, the most important part is to just start creating. Just sit down and create something small. Anything. Once you’re in motion, it’s a lot easier to keep going.

I challenge you to make more time, space, and energy for creating by getting your daily routine in check, implementing systems for your daily chores, and crafting that special creation space. Below is a recap of the main ways I’ve found to accomplish that goal. Good luck to you!

RECAP:

  1. Schedule (damn near) everything. Pick a time for creating and put it on the calendar. Make sure it’s a time that you’ll actually WANT to create, for example, some people like working better at night vs day etc. Be aware of your tendencies.
  2. Streamline your household chores with routines (meal planning, laundry, cleaning, petcare, etc).
  3. Everyone participates and has responsibilities. No matter how small, if  kids can walk, they can put their clothes in a basket.
  4. Work in a space in your home that you want to be in, somewhere that makes you feel good. 
  5. Just start creating. The more you create, the easier it becomes.

What tips have you found to help yourself become more creative? Please share in the comments below!

This post originally created for afreespiritlife.com‘s 21 day art and journaling class observe, create, connect!