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Meal Planning Made Simple

Written by Traci Runge

I am a planner…NOT a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl.  I have a lot on my plate, running a household with kids ranging in age from 8-21 and all the school/activity calendars that go along with that, making our marriage and faith priorities, owning two businesses, spending time together as a family, teaching Fifth Grade Religious Ed, and various other volunteer duties means our calendar is pretty full. I am not the kind of mom that allows our dedication to our faith and family to take a backseat to sports, school activities or social lives. I simply REFUSE!

This being said, I find it much easier to get through our week with a little pre-planning. Typically on Sundays after Mass and whatever family activities we have planned for the day, I sit down with the kids and my husband and we plan our menu for the week. It is important to be familiar with the week’s upcoming activities and priorities in order to plan the menu. This means if we have a Cross Country/Track Meet or if we will be at a school program or meeting of some type, we need to take this into consideration. Also, if I will be out of town working, I either need to plan a Crock-Pot meal or leave a casserole that the kids can pop into the oven.

Each family member chooses a lunch and supper that they would like to have during the week and then I go through the fridge, freezer and pantry and decide what we have and what we need to add to our grocery list. My husband and I then do the grocery shopping together. It is a nice way to have a little time together at the end of the busy week and it makes a typically boring task much more enjoyable. 

I have several resources I use for recipes. Our favorite lunch source is The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet by Lisa Fuentes (although we DO enjoy her breakfast recipes as well). I have the Kindle Version and the kids like her creative approach to breakfasts and lunches, plus there are nice color photos of many of the recipes. The recipes are all simple and homemade which is great for families like ours that is trying to avoid processed foods. She also has a subscription service with pre-planned meals. I will be trying that out soon and I will be sure to review it in a later post.

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Another great resource for recipes is Once a Month Mom Freezer Meals. I absolutely LOVE this service! You can completely customize it to your family’s needs and size. We use  both the Traditional and Whole Foods meals. They come complete with recipes, grocery lists and printable labels as well as a detailed preparation guide.

I have a few printables that I found on Pinterest that help me with the menu and grocery shopping. I like to make sure whatever I use is editable. This way I can simply add my info each week and print it out. Here is our weekly Menu Printable from NixieKnoxDesigns on Etsy. You will notice that on our menu I list the recipe source to make the preparation easier.

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The next printable is our Grocery List from Mom 4 Real. I chose this particular one because I like the space for the weekly menu at the top, this way as I am shopping I have a reminder of what we are eating throughout the week just in the event something catches my eye while shopping that would make a nice accompaniment.

Grocery List

One of the MANY benefits to menu planning is healthy eating. If you have everything planned out, purchased and prepped you are less likely to submit to the quick-fix of fast food or processed foods. I also like to prepare extras that can be frozen for later meals. This week when we made Chicken Noodle Soup and Chili, we made double batches to freeze and have on hand for another week.

I hope this helps you see how simple and helpful menu planning can be. Here’s to a Healthy, Happy New Year!

Blessings!

About the author

Traci Runge

Traci was born and raised in San Diego and has called Kearney, Nebraska home for the past 18 years. She is married to Darby Runge and together they have 6 children. They own and operate Pro-Tint, a window tinting business. Along with being a full-time mom, Traci is also a Manager and Certified Trainer with SendOutCards, she works with businesses and individuals to build relationships and grow their income through Relationship Marketing. Traci works hard to balance her roles of mother, wife and business owner. She strives to help make the world a better place through kindness and love and leading by example. Traci is committed to her family, church and community and can often be found volunteering in some capacity. www.sendoutcards.com/tracirunge

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