Lauren Casper »

simple meal planning for the week

Sometime between accepting Arsema’s referral in June and Mareto being diagnosed with autism in September I realized that our current “meal planning” (or lack there of) wasn’t working. Too many nights were spent ordering take out or cracking open a can of soup because things had gotten away from me during the day. Our budget was suffering and the mommy guilt was piling on. One morning I sat down and decided to make a change… to make a plan.

In order for meal planning to work for me it has to be completely simple and practically effortless. I had tried to come up with a monthly meal plan for our family in the past and I had failed. I decided that a month was too big – I would do one week. At first we thought it would get too repetitive and we’d get sick of the same six meals week after week, but we haven’t and it’s made my life so much easier.

The above is our weekly meal plan that was carefully put together with thought given to food prep, cooking time, and what each day typically holds for us.

  • Monday is John’s day off work (bonus of being a pastor) so we reserve that night for a date. Since we’re still in our “cocooning” phase with Arsema and don’t have her babysat our dates are at home after the kids go to bed. We order chinese, mexican, burgers, or chic fil a and settle in for a completely relaxing and stress-free night…. IF the kids decide to sleep for us.
  • Tuesday is a bit hectic. There’s speech therapy in the morning and I grocery shop after that. John has a weekly meeting in the afternoon and then works until 5pm. He comes home for an hourish and then is gone by 6:30pm to teach Bible Study. Spaghetti is easy and quick.
  • Wednesdays hold occupational therapy in the morning and a full work day for John. I am home all day with the kids. After lunch I put all the chicken for the week in the crockpot seasoned with salt, pepper, and onion powder. John comes home at 6pm and I have chicken and rice casserole waiting. He leaves 30 minutes later for church and I do my night time routine with the kids.
  • Thursday is a school day for John and an errand day for me (if I have any.) John lets me know when he’ll be ready for dinner. About 30 minutes before that time I take out half of the already cooked chicken and make chicken enchiladas. Before bed I take out 1lb of ground beef from the freezer to thaw overnight.
  • Friday I have morning Bible Study with the ladies at church and then all sorts of odds and ends with the kids throughout the day. In the morning before Bible Study I put together the meatloaf with the beef that thawed the night before. I put it in the refrigerator and an hour before dinner time I put it in the oven to bake. While it bakes I make the potatoes.
  • Saturday is also John’s day off if there aren’t any youth group activities planned. We have family day and do something fun. When we’re hungry for dinner John runs across the street to the chinese restaurant for a pint of white rice (it’s about a dollar) and I throw the rest of the cooked chicken in the skillet with the other ingredients. It all cooks for about 5-10 minutes and by the time John gets back with the rice we’re ready to eat.
  • Sunday is a full church day. John leaves in the morning well before me and the kids. He teaches Sunday School and I get the kids and myself ready. Before we leave to meet John at church I take the pork chops out of the freezer to thaw. While John goes to the 6pm evening service I cook dinner and get Arsema ready for bed. We eat around 7:15 when he gets home.

So that’s that! Lunches consist of leftovers or soup and sandwiches. Breakfast is cereal or bagels. We don’t deviate and having the plan means that even if my day goes nothing like planned (which happens a lot) I can still have a home cooked meal on the table with little to no stress added.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about how this has helped grocery shopping and I’ll also have free printables + recipes!


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