Confession: I’ve been known to over-complicate things. Give me a molehill, and I can turn it into a volcanic mountain range. Seriously. And meal planning is no different.
Don’t get me wrong. I love me some good food. In fact, Mr. M and I would both rank eating as one of our greatest pleasures in life. Yep, according to the Dante’s Inferno Test (because who doesn’t love a pop culture homage to medieval literature?) we’d both spend our purgation on the terrace of Gluttony.
However, lately the burden of menu planning, grocery shopping, and food prepping has overshadowed so many pleasures in life… eating included. There’s no way I’m going to complete my NaNoWriMo goals if I treat November like I’ve been treating the past few months. And so I’m planning all the month’s meals in advance. Download the plan if you’d like to cook along–hyperlinks to recipes embedded in the PDF!
Bonus: I’ll also be shopping for all my non-perishables in advance and then supplementing week by week with fresh items. Get each list, below, and get yourself organized for NaNo!
Oh, I’m feeling so prepared! This should be easy, right? (Famous last words…)
Here are some corners I’m planning to cut. Some of these changes are for November only, and some ideas I hope to implement permanently:
Simplified Supper: I’ve been adamantly against anything remotely prepackaged because it’s “not healthy.” But I’ve also been rather cranky and awful lately, and this is without contending with NaNo. So I’m getting over my irrational issues with frozen vegetables. I’m taking advantage of store-bought bread. And yes, I’ll be judiciously deploying jars of sauce and the occasional box mix. Additionally, I’m only planning five nights of meals per week. What about unplanned nights? See below (*) for my thoughts.
Sensible Snacking: The kids will get to nosh on cheese sticks, crackers in various animal shapes, Pirate’s Booty, fruit, and veggies with dip. Mr. M will get to indulge his love for ice cream. And I will have plenty of popcorn on hand for myself. (This has been my preferred buttery, salty writing snack since college.)
Lunchtime Laziness: For me and the kids, I’ll be doing homemade Lunchables (crackers + cheese + cured meat = so flipping easy!) and maybe something along the lines of this cool snack tackle box. Mr. M loves to eat our leftovers, but he may be taking more sandwiches to work. In fact, he may be making his own lunch in November. (The horror! The horror!)
Breakfast Busters: I’m stocking plenty of bread, bagels, granola, yogurt, cereal, and oatmeal. We’ll have plenty of fruit and toppings/spreads, too. Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t need to be fancy!
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*What About Unplanned Nights? Okay, it’s tough for this Planny McPlan-Plan Pants to admit, but sometimes I… over-plan. Sigh. It’s true. This is true in many areas of my life, but perhaps nowhere more obvious than in the kitchen. Often, I buy too much at the grocery store.
So I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the leftovers from five meals a week feed us for seven days. And if that doesn’t turn out to be the case, I plan to do breakfast for dinner (pancakes! Sausage links!) The other option is something Big Sister lovingly refers to as “picnic tea party.” This is when I arrange all of our random odds and ends on pretty serving ware, and it suddenly becomes a super fancy celebration. A typical “tea party” includes cured meats, cheeses, bread, crackers, veggies, dip, fruit, honey, hummus, and some sort of sweet treat (chocolate or store-bought tea cookies).