I don’t know about you but mealtime, dinner time in particular, is kinda crazy at our house. And we are still in the land of littles here! As I’ve confessed before I am not an extremely organized person by nature, but I am one who likes to be prepared- sounds contradictory- but there is a difference I tell you.
The days of practices and school functions and friend play dates are coming. I feel completely unprepared for crazier evenings ahead. So a month challenge of sticking with a meal plan had to make the cut for my year-long adventure. I like to cook. I will say that right up front, sorry for all those seeking a comrade in the no cooking department. However, despite my love for feeding people fancy meals there are two things that I don’t like: 1. dishes and 2. using an entire afternoon and evening to prepare a meal that small children eat 2 bites of in 2 minutes. Listed in order.
So the challenge this month? Pick some kind of meal plan aimed at simplifying dinner time and sticking to it for 4 whole weeks. (oh yeah, another confession- I am also bad at sticking with things, for the most part) The goals this month are:
- make knowing what is for dinner easy
- make cleanup easy
- make family aka kids happy and fed
- make kid friendly healthy food
- make 1 night a week feed my learning and creativity values
- make good food and meal prep habits
In order to accomplish said goals I have decided to take up a meal template. What is that you ask? I just learned! It is this idea that I think the whole world was aware of BUT me. You assign a topic or type of dish to each day of the week to help narrow down the question “what’s for dinner?” It is also very awesome for children apparently because they love repetition and consistency. I have heard of doing family pizza night twice a month or something like that but not assigning every. single. day a theme! Seemed a bit boring but I have since learned otherwise. I imagine this works kind of like the capsule wardrobe. When you have less choices and more direction things get a heck of a lot easier and you get more creative with what you do have.
The template I have picked is this:
Sunday: Intant pot or crock pot meals. With church in the afternoon we are always scrambling for dinner when we get home and I want to make this day stay calm.
Tuesday: Mexican (aka Taco night but can expand into things like enchiladas and burritos)
Wednesday: Bowls (whole meal in a bowl. buddha bowls to soup…if it can all be eaten out of one bowl it goes here)
Saturday: Italian/Pasta (pizza night will fall here)
I have already picked my meals and gotten my recipes together for the whole month! I have made a calendar below. I purchased an app that was recommended called MealBoard. It allows you to import or type in recipes via their website platform and sync it to the mobile app where you can input your entire inventory- pantry, fridge, freezer- all of it. Then load your recipes into their day slots and generate a shopping list from the menu which it gets directly from the recipes! So cool. On my shopping list I can see if I already have stock of something in my inventory, or “pantry”. I can remove those items from my grocery list. Then when I am shopping and marking off the things I’ve tossed in my cart- I can move them directly to my inventory!
I actually just went shopping for my first week of meals today and I am feeling pumped already knowing exactly what we are having this week. I took into account what takes place on which days of the week such as Wednesday when I leave in the evening to go to church and work with the youth. I know this is a harder night, hence the bowl meals. I have it prepped and ready and the dishes are few which will make my husband particularly happy since he is always such a stud and does them that night for me! Love that man.
Another neat thing I pondered the other day?? I am sure you are dying to know. Welllll…I was realizing that if we liked and wanted to keep in rotation sayyy 5 new recipes each month? That would be 60 new recipes in a year in addition to the ones we already know are our favorites. That is quite a list of go-to recipes!
It is important in our family to have dinner together. I know as the years move on things will get more difficult. *Reference comments above* However. I grew up with dinner time as a constant. Even if one person might have to be gone one evening; or if the time had to swayed a bit to accommodate, it happened. And if it was just 4 out of 7 days a week? That was still a success. It was that we knew we came together at the end of the day and reunited as a family unit. And that fundamental feeling I have tried to instill at my house too. Family dinner, family prayer, and family scripture reading are foundations here. Call me old fashioned if you want but I believe that the basis to a good community, to a successful society as a whole stems from success at home. Here I am, standing on my soapbox.
I want to bring the simplicity and real reason we eat dinner together back to the forefront this month. I figure if I can make my part less stressful and better planned then I can bring everyone to the table in a good mood and make that happen. Less time fretting over the dinner preparations and more time on family time.
How does your family do dinner? How do you make family time? What are some of your traditions? I really would love to read your thoughts!
Here is my calendar for the month. The March Meal Plan PDF has links to the recipes. I’ll update the list in a coming post and provide my recipes for the roast and pizza dough as well. (on my to do list: type up all my recipe pages and cards! Where is that scared wide eyed emoji guy when you need him!)
PS- If you follow me on Instagram (@imsimply_taylor) I have a GIVEAWAY going on this week! Get a new Williams Sonoma apron, two gift cards and a meal plan notepad for your fridge! Plus let us all know your favorite simple family meal. Go check it out!