This used to be my LEAST favorite question asked each and every day. I hate, hate, hate deciding what’s for dinner. I thought that I hated this task so much because I don’t like making decisions. But let’s be honest here, to those of you who know me in real life, I love to make decisions. Thrive on it, in fact. I’m in my element deciding when to do what…aren’t all Type-A personalities that way? We might not like to admit that we are, but we are. So that couldn’t be the problem…
Then I decided that my dislike stemmed from the fact that I didn’t know how to cook that many meals. You know, you’ve got a few staple items that you can whip up/out in a heartbeat that are always crowd pleasers, but your repertoire doesn’t consist of more than 3 or 4 meals…and who wants to eat the same thing over and over? But the recipe books that line a corner of my kitchen and an overflowing-stuffed-to-the-gills recipe BINDER suggest that this is not my problem either. (And yes, I tried to argue with myself that most of the recipes are desserts…but then I’d be a big, fat liar on top of everything else!)
Since my first two answers proved that they couldn’t hang under the pressure, I had to look further. And I decided that my problem stems from grocery shopping. Or it starts with grocery shopping…and ends with cleaning up the kitchen. Because let’s be honest, if you have no idea what you’re going to cook for dinner by lunchtime (at the latest) then you’re probably going to have to stop for at least 1-5 items at the grocery store on your way home. Add that on top of picking up a kid or two…getting home through the traffic…preparing the meal…eating said meal…and cleaning it all up and you’re left with – well…nothing. No free time. No time to play on the floor with your baby. No time to help your third grader with her homework. And you’re exhausted by the time bedtime rolls around.
And in my house being too exhausted to even take a bubble bath is something close to sacrilege. Bubble baths are THAT important. Yes, they are. I’ll never believe otherwise.
So now that I’ve put a finger to the problem, I can find a solution. My solution? Meal planning. Yes, I mentioned last week that I’m probably the last person on earth to jump on this particular bandwagon, but dude – it solves so many of my problems.
I have an immediate answer when asked my least favorite question (possibly after a quick glance at my calendar to see what the answer should be!) so I look smarter.
I have a definable list of groceries needed for a full week’s worth of food (or month if you choose to shop that way). No more last minute trips each and every day to my home away from home – HEB. I’m able to make my shopping list by pulling all required recipes out and sitting down to make out my list…I also use more of my coupons this way since I’m not frantically scanning a stack of coupons while pushing my cart down the aisle at HEB. Sure there are last minute things that I still might have to stop and get once a week or so – rotisserie chicken, fresh tortillas, milk (if we run out). But going every single day? Thing of the past.
And I can shop first at my own pantry. No more buying the large can of chicken broth just to get home and find that I had one already at home on the pantry shelf. I make my list, pull my coupons, shop at my house first (crossing items off left and right!) and THEN go to the store.
Last but not least, being the true Type-A personality that I am, I also borrowed this idea from a blog: a shopping list built in the order that you go through the store. Genius! No more “Oh crap! I forgot tomatoes!” when you’re over in the beauty department…don’t ask me why being in the beauty department would remind me that I needed tomatoes. Just trust me that it happens. By making my shopping list out by grocery department/section, I can (and do) easily breeze through HEB in a more organized manner. This takes less time for the shopping, and more time to relax, do something crafty, contemplate a nap or just get down on the floor and play peek-a-boo to hear that belly laugh that’s just starting to come out!
I know that I might be the last one on this meal planning train, but man, I’ve jumped on with both bags packed and am enjoying the ride so far. Even Brent likes the idea, despite the miscommunication where he thought that I said that I bought groceries for the MONTH for $70 last week…I said the week, but he misheard me. No wonder he was excited, huh?
I’ll be sure and keep you posted on how it’s going so far…if you’re interested…but so far, so good!