Time and time again I have tried meal planning with no real success. I always find myself wanting something else for dinner, or wanting to be creative. I have created a simple system that will not only takes loads of stress off "planning" but will make the whole process of cooking and meal planning more of a breeze. I am not saying never look at a recipe, but no more pining over them. My overall number one tip is KEEP IT SIMPLE.
In today's world of pintrest and organic foods we often find ourselves trying to make things to fancy. We think if we don't follow the precise method of plans we find online then we aren't successful at running or household. My memommy, yes memommy, a name I made up for my grandmother when I was first speaking, still follows the simple method of cooking that she grew up eating. Meat, vegetable, herbs and usually a grain of some kind. No fancy recipes, just real food.
My friends, you can only imagine all of the things I have come across as an organizer. Trying to fit into the category of you have to do it this way and how will people except you as an organizer if you are not a type A person that has meals perfectly planned.
To be honest the people that are type A people, that may enjoy by the book recipes and plans, don't need me. Usually type A people have it already figured out and may think this method is crazy. I am not a type A person. I am a woman that takes care of a family and wants my daily tasks and chores to be as simple as possible, therefore, I help other women create keep it simple too.
Being organized just makes your life easier so you aren't pulling out your hair every time you empty the dishwasher or try cook dinner. Being organized does not mean you have change your personality type.
I looked at my clients and their struggles. I saw their heads spin as I encouraged meal plans. Then, one day, I had this realization...it doesn't have to be so HARD! I thought about the way that I love to cook, the real methods that I use in my kitchen that makes life easier and how I get dinner on the table in 15 to 30 minutes.
I don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, nor do I have the energy, but I do have energy to do a little jig when dinner is on the table in 15 minutes and is so good I can hardly stand it. I am just say'in...it is pretty satisfying!
I will share 5 tips for healthy dinner every night without a plan, how I keep dinner simple, my family happy and me dancing.
1. Meat prepped/thawing in the fridge.
My staple meats are roasted chicken, pulled and ground beef. I will also have either pork, roast or steak if I have found something on sale. There are times when I will have fish, but it is rare. I keep a
9 x 13 glass dish in the fridge for thawing meat.
The key to the meat is keeping it simple. For instance, there are some weeks when it is just chicken and beef because this is what I stock at all times and there is no leftover time to shop for other meats on sale.
Know where you buy your meat and how much you get. I purchase 4 to 6 roasted chickens and 6 lbs of ground beef at Costco about every two weeks. When the budget and time allows I can get more of this and back stock in my freezer. On the day I purchase my meat, I pull the chicken and divide the ground beef. I store by the pound in quart size freezer bags. Each roasted chicken is about 1 lb. I brown half of the ground beef, if time allows, before I freeze it then I can make meals even quicker. At the beginning of each week I just make sure I have enough meat in my thawing dish for 5 to 7 meals, depending on the week.
2. Do a little prep work when you have extra time.
Prepping makes everything so much easier! I always prep rice. Other Things I prep are peppers, good for fajitas, on top of rice, in eggs or as a side.
Salad, romaine lettuce, spinach any other vegetables, like cucumbers and cherry tomatoes I store in mason jars for freshness. Noodles for a quick pasta salad or Italian inspired dinner, just add sauce and your cooked ground beef and you have dinner in less than 20 minutes. Throw in extra sweet potatoes when you are cooking them for dinner anyway, use the extras for any side.
3.Keep quick cooking staples on hand.
Eggs, you can eat for any meal. Boil, scramble, fry for a sandwich. A frozen pizza, homemade or bought. Tortilla wraps. Bread, cheese, tomato soup. Tip 4 will definitely help you out for a quick and easy meal when you forgot about dinner or forgot to thaw your meat.
4. Keep the fridge stocked with easy sides.
I always have rice in the fridge, cooked and ready to go. I can make the quickest lunches and dinners with rice, and they are filling and delicious. Someone gave me a rice cooker that I did not use for a long time, in fact, I almost donated it, but one day I decided I would give it a try. I was always starting a new batch of rice on the stove but now I start a new batch in the cooker, leave it and forget it...perfect rice every time. All I have to do is dump into my container and refrigerate. I have made it a habit that every time I run out of rice I grab my rice cooker and put some on, so fulfilling!
Boil or steam carrots and add butter, shred carrots in stir fry (I just take of the top layer with the peeler and then peel the rest of the carrot right over what I am cooking on the stove), bake a potato or dice them and eat them crispy. Avocados, broccoli, cooked beans. See prepping notes for more stocked side ideas.
5. Stock your staples.
Know the things that you eat all the time and stock them. I always have chicken and beef. Potatoes and rice and noodles. Tortillas and english muffins. Carrots, brussel sprouts, strawberries and blueberries. Eggs, milk, bacon or sausage. Spaghetti, barbecue and tikka masala sauce. Canned black beans, corn and kidney beans. I try to eat fresh but these things are so great to have on hand in a pinch, just rinse first! And of course dark chocolate.
Other snack items we keep on hand is Lays sour cream and onion chips for hubby and chocolate chip brownie Laura Bars for me.
Give me your bins of your children's artwork, paintings, stories and certificates, and I will return, to you, personalized memory binders. Memory binders allow you and your child to enjoy accomplishments of the past and they are great for sharing with grandparents as well. Children have great fun flipping through them, and you can keep your fridge free of clutter. When a new piece comes in, file the old one in the memory binder and enjoy the new one on the fridge. You can even have a memory binder made for yourself containing your childhood, that way you can share it with your children, your friends, or just each other.