Plan Your Meals and Save Time

Sesame Chicken and Bok choy
Sesame Chicken and Bok choy

I get it.  Not everyone wants to slave in the kitchen.  I don’t either.  As much as I love to cook, I can’t afford to shell out too much time preparing meals for my family.  The way our lifestyle goes, I really only make dinner.  Not bad, I know.  Breakfast for me typically consists of coffee and something light like a piece of toast or some eggs.  The kids usually get milk and fruits and cereal.  Daddy gets his smoothies for breakfast and lunch, while we eat leftovers for lunch at home.  Very, very simple.

Chicken Pesto Kabobs
Chicken Pesto Kabobs

Now, I understand not everyone has a meal schedule like we do.  However, this simplified eating schedule can really work for most people.  I also want to add that we do snack throughout the day, mostly fruits or cheese or whatever else we have at home.  If you noticed, we try to keep it fairly healthy when we can.  But believe me, I never skimp out on dinner.  Oh yeah!

So, how do we begin?

Mexican Tamales
Mexican Tamales

Start off by examining your current eating lifestyle.  What do you like to eat, and what do you eat most of?  Do you like to experiment with taste culturally?  How many times do you eat a day?  Do you prefer hearty dinners or hearty breakfasts or lunches?  How much time are you willing to spend in the kitchen?  How many days a week are you willing to commit to cooking?

Answer these questions, and you should have a better idea on how your eating week should look like.  I usually print out a weekly menu calendar for my planning.  It helps to look at the amount of time you’re planning for with a bigger perspective, making sure not to have repeats or close encounters.  I typically plan for two weeks at a time.  Also, I find that we are out most weekends, so I don’t plan to cook on those days.  Five meals a week is cake, especially if you’re up to trying new things.  I’ll give you a sampling of what I normally do.

Orange Beef with Broccoli
Orange Beef with Broccoli

American.  Mexican.  Irish.  German.  French.  Filipino.  The beautiful concoction of cultures that is our family.  Mondays are usually Latin night.  Tuesdays are wonderfully Italian (just because we love Italian!).  Wednesdays are our Filipino or anything Asian days.  Thursdays are devoted to experimentation, which includes Irish, French, and German since we aren’t so familiar with their cuisines.  We might go Indian or Arabic depending on my mood, really.  And of course, Fridays are generally American.  Barbecue, anyone?  By the way, I switch the days all the time.  No rules!

After that, the hard part of thinking is really done.  All that’s left to do is some creative recipe research.  I always go online for ideas.  I also like to find recipes that only take about 30 minutes to make, depending on what it is and how much time I’m willing to give.  Short and extremely efficient is how I want to cook.  Some of the websites I use include Yummly, Pinterest, Allrecipes, and the Food Network.  Allrecipes actually has a mobile app that can pinpoint you to the closest store that has the most sales of the ingredients you need.  Impressive shopping tool!

Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala

Try shopping for days ahead of time.  I wish I can do food shopping for a whole week, but with two babies on my side all the time, I find that I really can only do two to three days worth of shopping when I go.  The amount of time you will save from thinking to shopping to executing in the kitchen will surprise you when you plan ahead of time.  It sure has helped with managing my schedule between taking care of the family, my business, and everything else in between!

Good luck to you and hope this helps!  If you’d like any more ideas, feel free to ask! 🙂

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I'm a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom of two awesome toddlers. If we aren't out on an adventure, we spend most of our days tickling each other on the bedroom floor, making things explode in the kitchen, jumping on piles of laundry before and after washing, or just doing random little things that make life absolutely worth it.

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