I used to be such an organised Mum when it came to planning and cooking meals…then i had the twins, gave up full time work and became a stay at home Mum. Sounds like it should be the other way around doesn't it? You would think i would become more organised and have more time to plan and cook meals now that i am at home and not rushing in the door at 5.30pm! Well that's what i expected too but so far it doesn't seem to working out that way….and it's time to change that because this disorganisation is not only bugging the perfectionist list maker in me…it's costing us money we can't afford!
When i worked i used to sit down each weekend and plan out our meals with great care, recipe books strewn everywhere, then off to the weekly shop clutching my little list for groceries, meat and veg.No deviation was accepted! I then spent an afternoon baking for school and work lunches and often even made up some great little salads or sandwiches ready to go for the following week. I only had a teenager during those organised days…. then i had twins and things started to slip…..well that's my excuse anyway.
It has taken me some time to get a new family rhythm going….i've never had twin babies…now toddlers to fit in around my day, i've never been a stay at home Mum before, i've never not crossed everything off my to do list each day before heading home from an office…I've never before lived in tracksuit pants and felt grateful when i get a shower in a 24 hour period….by myself that is! So it has taken a little getting used to and a now i think the time has come to realise we are a family of 5 now…not 3 and things are indeed very different…and they won't be going back to how they were before so it's up to me to set some new strategies in place!
To be fair to myself i do now make a lot of things that i used to buy before and this takes extra time….i make yoghurt and washing liquid, i try to keep a reasonable vegetable patch going and the chooks fed so that they in turn feed us with their glorious eggs and i like to embrace my old inner childcare teacher self and have fun playing and making messes with the toddler twosome. I do still bake and i always try to have a home cooked meal on the table every night but to be honest the ‘chore' of it and the monotony has been wearing me down.
From 4pm here it gets messy…there is lots of whining and leg pulling not to mention a few tantrums and squabbles….and then Miss teen arrives home from school and i need to give some undivided attention there as well (or become a taxi depending on the social calendar of the week…hers' not mine!)And then a little part of me gives up on the planned dinner and it becomes something it wasn't meant to be or we turn to takeaway which is hard on my purse and my hips. I do try to prepare what i can during the twins nap time most days but i have so much to get done during naptime that i often get a little resentful when i have to spend it cooking or prepping…i know that sounds awful…what mother resents having to feed their family? Well, that's how i am often feeling at the moment unfortunately.
I have been attempting to meal plan to try and make things easier and get back to where i used to be but it tends to be scribbled on the back of scrap paper or across the fridge whiteboard which also holds the shopping list and thus often becomes combined prompting me to wonder why i put ‘porcupine balls' on the shopping list…and then i remember i was supposed to be following a plan this week!
So i have decided i need to go back to using a folder with some plastic sleeves, a meal plan and shopping list for each week. By keeping them in a folder i can also look back over the weeks to gain some inspiration from those. What i need to do differently to how i used to plan though is think ahead to some shortcuts which recognise that the days are full and i don't have as much time to prepare and cook the way i used to….again….i know it sounds odd when i used to work all day but perhaps i was just more prepared than i remember (and we didn't need to eat by 5.30pm!). I also need to incorporate more meals that i can adapt or pull bits out of to make meals for the toddler twosome as i feel like i am making 3 different meals each night at the moment and it is leading to mini meltdowns (from me) that aren't too pretty i'm afraid!
So for now i think i need to go back to some quick, easy and wholesome meals that i can also try with 2 yr olds. I'll save some of our old spicy favourites for the weekends as a treat for the big people and stop trying to make different meals that keep everyone happy. I need to accept that for now i just don't have the time to cook some of the more labour intensive meals that i used to do (i also no longer have a nice relaxing glass of white while cooking said meal….doesn't seem to fit with my new twin mummy role anymore apparently ….) I'm going to try and use the slowcooker more as i love the feeling of putting it on in the morning and not worrying for the rest of day, i'm going to try and do a little more prep at nights (which should be easier as i shall have ‘the plan' to follow!!!)instead of using precious nap times and i'm going to have some back up frozen casseroles ready in case of those just plain awful days when i haven't been able to get to the toilet by myself let alone cook anything!
I am also going to keep my fingers crossed (and probably bribe to be honest) that the toddler twosome start developing an appetite and interest in a wider range of family foods and that Ruby's sensory issues with food miraculously disappear (yeah, i know that's not going to happen….goodness it's hard to keep positive about it sometimes though…..i really hope she isn't going to just eat yellow, crunchy things into her teen years because that's going to be awkward!).
OK…i have a plan in place now and to be even more efficient i am going to download and print out one of the fab meal plan lists i have been seeing all over Pinterest rather than spending the time typing or writing up my own. Here are some of my favourites so far!
Project Girl…Capsule Menu Planning
Bold Turquoise…Meal Plan Binder
seven thirty three…weekly meal planner
I also get lots of inspiration from Amie over at Triple T Mum as she has twins and a toddler under 3 plus a teen and she does fabulous meal plans each week that i always read and which have me thinking (each week….)that i need to get myself organised with meal planning…no more excuses!!!
Next week i shall share the folder i have made up and how week 1 has gone. This weeks goal is to stick to the plan…see what works and what doesn't, try out a few different recipes instead of the same old rotation of ones i know by heart (please tell me i am not the only one that does that!!)and also to instigate some timesavers.
I'll let you know how i go…..time for me to embrace this new family rhythm instead of constantly fighting it and wishing for a time that is no longer relevant to our lifestyle. I have visited so many friendly blogs that have wonderful tips for meal planning each week and it is always such an inspiration…if you have any tips (or helpful blog posts) for me or others regarding meal planning for a family (especially with toddlers!) i would love you to leave them in the comments for us all to share.
I am also collecting lots of great ideas on my Pinterest Organisation Board if you'd like some inspiration too!
I truly need all the help i can get at the moment as i want cooking for my family to become something i enjoy again…not a chore that stresses me and has me snapping at everyone at the end of each day…wish me luck friends…a new journey awaits!!!
Enchanted Moments says
Its something I have struggled with the last ten years of being home with babies and children…if I do not have an idea of what is for dinner by lunchtime, well forget it…my husband walks in and looks at me, I look at him and then I feel like crap because I havnt done the ‘great mother’ thing of preparing my kids a meal for dinner…I would hate for any body to read my blog and think that because I love to cook and bake that the nightly family meal appears every night on time……it dosnt. I rely on a weekly menu, because I have to. I cant function without it. It helps my shopping list and bill and is SAVES ME STRESSING. I know a mum that makes her dinner meal in the morning…EVERY MORNING. Her children eat early, as I know they should…around 5.00ish and all is well…..I dont know how she manages it, it has become a joke when I see her, I ask her at 9.30am in the morning, what she has cooked for dinner….
Try the weekly menu, with BASIC food…even if it is sausages with carrot and potato..get the veg peeled in the morning and leave it in a bowl of water till the evening when you are ready to cook it…I think the key is , the menu, simple meals, and getting as much of it done before the 4.00 melt down…sitting reading a book at 4.30 is much nicer than peeling vegies or staring into the freezer with the children cranky…so now, I get to take my own advice as well.. 🙂 Good luck with the planning, it can only be a positive thing….
My plan was originally to do the morning thing after i had also seen a friend doing it but this is when i like to do our painting and outside time so it often doesn’t work!Thanks for shring your own experiences…sometimes we forget that others might also struggle with these things!I love your tips too and will be taking them all onboard…especially just doing some easy meals!
Busy mum of 3 says
What recipie do you use for yoghurt making, I’ve made it 3 times and have no problem getting it to set, but I don’t like the grainy consistency it has.
Trying to find a link for you as it has a much better explanation than i can give! Will post over on your blog as soon as i find it…it is a slowcooker version although i do still resort to the easiyo packets at times as the twins like them better!
Oh I totally know how you feel….
Sometimes I think it is the chore of trying to come up with a dinner that everyone will eat, that and not running to the shops everyday like I could on the way home when I worked…
For a while I really found my stride with the whole food thing, I felt really quite proud of putting good, home made, often home grown, food on the table… but recently I’ve fallen in a bit of a hole. Trying to dig myself out with menu plans (I plan monthly and have a basic printable on my blog as well as one for a fortnight and a week)and trying my hand at some bigger batch cooking and freezing too, and otherwise sticking to a small seasonal rotation that I know everyone will eat.
Yes i think i forget how often i stopped at the shops on the way home from work Kate!I like the monthly idea actually…will check out your printable too…thanks for your thoughts x
Twins Squared says
So true! I think all moms can relate. I started meal planning for the first time last year and overall it worked really great. I was realistic too. Actually planned for quick dinners and even wrote in the nights we would pick something up because of activities. And then planned out the better meals as well. Too bad I quit doing it. I think once school starts up I will get back to it.
Yes, it is the afternoon dread (but when there is a plan the dread is not there so much). And then suiting everyone’s different tastes is a challenge. I try to make sure every child has at least one thing on the menu that they like. Sometimes it’s a roll. But once I had 4 kids all eating real food, I realized I had to get us all on the same page. They are always welcome to eat a sandwich if it’s a new dish they’ve never tried, after they’ve tried it of course.
If you find any good slow cooker kid-friendly recipes I desperately need more. And they generally don’t like soups. Ugh.
Love your ideas! The one thing on the menu that each likes is a good idea…i might try to incorporate that too! I have a heap of slowcooker recipes on my pinterest board but haven’t divided them into ones i think would be kid friendly as yet although i also have a toddler food board which has some yum recipes. There might be some new ideas there for you?
I shall try and collect a few favorites i always use into a post soon!
Amie (Triple T Mum) says
Hi Jode! Thanks for mentioning Triple T Mum! I know where you are coming from! Your starting out the right way. That’s what I did…I got a binder, dividing sleeves and spent a weekend totally sorting out my meal planning. My first menus were full of ‘known’ recipes and then for a bit of creative inspiration (‘cos the known gets boring!) I added one newbie recipe/meal.
The biggest meal planning godsend that I ever learnt is cook two meals every alternate night. So I looked at the social calendar (teens not mine…LOL) and worked out cooking two dinners on Monday night, Wednesday night and cooking extra over the weekend works for our family. You’ll notice when you look at my menu plans that one of those nights is super easy and quick! Which makes getting that nights meal to the table by 5pm easy, then it’s a matter of getting back to the next nights dinner, either to put it together or make a start (you never know how bedtime is going to pan out!)
What you probably haven’t noticed is that my meal plans are planned out for the entire month. The first fortnight are the meals, the second fortnight there are no ‘new’ meals. The first fortnight meals are mixed about in the second fortnight. So for one months meals I only have to plan 14!
Slow cooker meals are a godsend, just have to remember when I need an accompaniment (like rice or pasta). I get so relaxed about the whole meal, I forget!
I would love to try the OAM cooking strategy but I just don’t have 3 days (in a row) to devote to batch cooking…maybe when the kids are school age but not now. I do try to get at least one freezer meal happening on the weekend for those unexpected evenings!
So sorry this has been a long comment…I could probably write a post on it!LOL!
I loved your long comment Amie! So many great ideas there…i think i may try the monthly plan…love that you only actually plan meals for the first fortnight!i used to do a lot of batch cooking on weekends before the girls but i just don’t seem to manage it now!
I do that with slowcooker meals too…think yay it’s all done and forget the accompaniment!Thanks so much for taking the time to leave your great ideas!
Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky says
I love reading about how other people organise their homes. I’ve been stuck in an organising rut lately, and my meal plan has stayed the same for about a month ….. meaning we haven’t referred to it at all and just fly by the seat of our pants each night! This morning I woke up with renewed intentions to get organised again. I just wish I had such a gorgeous veggie patch like you. That’s been a very long term goal around here. One day…
Thanks Kylie…i do to! I’m so glad to learn i am not alone in this area!I can certainly relate to the plan staying the same and not being used….i know it can work, i just have to commit to it again i think!
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the garden at the moment as it is a lot of work…i enjoy it when i get there but it isn’t often enough so i fall behind with weeding etc! Still appreciate having the space to try though! Hope you get there soon!
I could have written this post it sounds so similar to how I’ve been feeling lately. I LOVE cooking, but the fun gets taken out of it when you hit those dreaded ‘feral hours’ around tea time and while I do menu plan, lately, I haven’t been as efficient with it or grocery shopping. It sounds like you’re on the right track though and have a plan as to how to improve things for yourself. I like the looks of Triple T Mum’s menus, they look nice and balanced. I try and keep things simple too and leave trying a new dish to a Saturday night when I have an extra pair of hands to help with the girls. Sometimes I double up too, like this week, I’m doing a roast dinner on Thursday and on Saturday we’ll have the same. It’s nice having a meal in the fridge that just needs to be heated up. I agree, the slow cooker is very helpful and I need to use it more as well. Check out the blog Planning With Kids – she has some good menu plans and uses her slow cooker a lot as well. I use a menu plan I made myself similar to the one you found on The Project Girl blog. Underneath the meal for us, I give a tick if Grace will be eating the same, or I jot down an alternative for her. Until now, she’s had separate meals a lot of the time too. Another thing I do is try and prepare a bit for the week ahead on the weekend. Like yesterday, I made a batch of homemade sausage rolls for later in the week, made a soup and froze it and made a zucchini slice for tonight’s tea. Also, you’re right in saying that you need to keep things simple for yourself and perhaps buy some things that normally you would make. I will look forward to seeing your menus and to hearing how you’re going with it xx