Our current life consists of a Monday-Friday schedule of leaving the house by 6:30 am and not returning until at least 6:00 pm. We have ZERO time in the evenings before bed to get all the normal things done – to cook dinner, eat dinner, do homework and have any sort of family time. Most nights in the past, we ate way too many instant meals and hit the drive-thru at Chick Fil A at least twice a week. At the beginning of the school year this year, we reevaluated our priorities.
We cannot give up much of our weeknight routine; however, we decided to try meal planning for our family. This initially made me laugh … you see, I am not a cook. When I say that, I mean it. We only go to social gatherings that require us to bring a dish if my husband commits to cooking. Cooking for me includes warming ANYTHING up, there ya go, chicken nuggets for life! Haha!
When we began this journey, we started on Saturday afternoon and evening we cooked two dinner options and one lunch. We planned on eating out as a family on Friday nights and Sunday lunches. Cooking our two dinner options and one lunch took about 3 hours total with both of us working. I helped with chopping, sorting, putting into containers and cleaning up afterward, while my husband handled all the cooking.
My husband brings his lunch every day as a teacher; I work in an office environment and keep things in the fridge to eat throughout the week (sandwiches, salads, etc.). Typically his lunch option is vegetarian as that is what he prefers for the lunch hour.
For us, two dinner options are enough. It gives us a variety on weeknights without us going overboard as the last thing I want to do is throw away uneaten food at the end of the week. We cook all of the meals then put into individual Tupperware containers for us all to be able to grab, heat up and eat.
Our meals include tacos, spaghetti, pork chops with sides, fajitas, Shepherd’s pie, baked chicken with sides, gumbo and chili. These are our go-to meals. We make sure every meal has a vegetable included in it (you can sneak kale into spaghetti and chili VERY easily).
This system has SAVED our weeknights. Our weeknight routine now typically looks like this:
6:00 pm: Arrive home with STARVING kids.
6:15 pm: Meal has been warmed in the microwave, and they are both eating while parents get their food ready.
6:45 pm: Homework
7:15 pm: Bath
7:35pm – 7:45pm: Story, snuggles & Sleep!
My daughter, 8, needs a lot of sleep. Going to bed by 7:45 pm every night ensures that she will get 10 hours of sleep every night which means we are all happier.
This process has improved our time as a family; we are not running around crazy each night attempting to figure out what we are eating. We are spending more time visiting about our days while fueling our bodies. We brought back the TV dinners of the 90s, but with healthy food options and they taste better, too!