Have You Eaten? --Meal Plan Bingo (with printable!)

There are many ways to meal plan, and I believe from my experience that we go through seasons of ability or inability--to do most things. I'm currently in a season of what feels like desperate inability. I feel like I'm running furiously on the hamster wheel of life--and at any moment I will be hurled out and smashed against a wall.

In my house there is:

  • another adult who has a much more well-developed sense of what "dinner" should entail than I, and who hungers all the time
  • a child who despises tomato sauce and almost all forms of melted cheese (what's to live for then? I ask)
  • a child who can consume entire animals in a single sitting, then ask for more meat
  • a child who doesn't eat vast quantities yet, but will eat a salad
  • a child who has 10 words, but one of them is "cookie." Everything else goes on the floor
  • me
So, my meal planning has taken on various forms over the years. First were the beginning years, in which I had almost limitless energy and time (if a limited budget) for making and planning dinner, and an eager taste-tester. I scoured cooking magazines, enjoyed recipe websites, and experimented. I told myself that this is what an awesome woman does. 

Following this were the early parenting years, in which I stayed home with my infant(s) and felt that surely I should be able to make my children have wide-ranging tastes by introducing them to a variety of healthy foods, lovingly prepared. I planned for variety and taste. We routinely invited people to come have dinner, which had to be company-worthy then. I volunteered to make baked goods to share at the mom's support group I attended. I told myself that this is what an awesome woman does. 

The my-four-year-old-refuses-to-eat-anything-years lasted for some time. I consoled myself with the pediatrician's words, that no child had ever starved in the presence of edible food. This time coincided with my desire to be as frugal as possible, which entailed me poring over multiple grocery sales' flyers each week, shopping at three or four different stores to get the absolute best price on carrots and everything else each week. I planned a month at a time for the cheapest possible meals that still passed as meals to the other adult. I did not buy produce that was not on sale. We ate mealy red delicious apples and iceberg lettuce I chopped myself. I told myself that this is what an awesome woman does. 

After this, the other adult in the house began to lament the lack of exciting fresh foods in our lives. So did I. Frankly, I was also tired of hauling two kids and a baby all over town looking for that extra 10 cents off on my sack of flour. I began to plan with the cooking magazines again, a week at a time. I began buying feta cheese, bell peppers, and pre-bagged Romaine. I bought flavored coffee creamer--first as a "luxury," then as a need (for which I am mocked to this day by the other adult). I found that some months our grocery bill neared ...nay, surpassed $1000, while the frugal mom bloggers told me that I should be able to feed everyone well on a trip to Piggly-Wiggly with a $10 bill. I felt torn as to what an awesome woman does. 

Now I'm in the season of "why do these people want to eat every.single.night?!" I don't want to cook. Ever. I want dinner to come to me. I microwave hot dogs and make boxed mac-and-cheese when it's me and the kids. If I'm being awesome, I will put a bag of baby carrots on the table with it. I use the crockpot every time I can. I order from Schwan's home delivery service for chicken breasts I can microwave and put on a bun. (Which, actually--has been amazing...) I am not telling myself that this is what an awesome woman does anymore, but getting anything on the table at all is going to have to be good enough.

Since ordering Chinese food costs $50 a pop, and Chick-Fil-A is likewise upwards of $40 for us for dinner, eating out every time I just don't feel like planning dinner isn't an option. Additionally, the health insurance company's "health coach" reminded me several times that I aspire to eat salad regularly. So.

In a fit of productive energy, I planned out a "meal plan bingo" sheet for every meal I know how to make. I organized them by type of meal, and rated them in my mind by healthfulness too. Then I can ideally look at the list each week and circle what we're having. I say ideally, because, half of the time, I forget to do this. Part of the other half of the time, I change my mind about what sounds goods halfway through the day. I didn't list the fall-back "Dad's not home" meals, because I figure I should let them be fall-backs and not the first-choice. And every once in a while, I make a dinner that wins.

Would you like your own bingo sheet? Sure, you would! It comes with the actual meals on my personal plan, and more helpfully, a blank one. You can get it here.  

4 comments

  1. Katie, I love you and I miss you! I, too, cannot believe that they want to eat dinner every night. Crazy expectations! Thanks for the bingo sheet. Much love!

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    1. Oh, Patti!! I miss you too. You're so welcome. Thanks for reading!

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  2. Love this! I will print and peruse (as soon as I get ink). Meanwhile, we had canned soup for dinner, but I did add cheese-garlic biscuits (and there were carrots in the soup). I really have no idea when the baby last ate a vegetable. Does ketchup count?

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    1. Well, since ketchup is all that Rosie ate tonight since she threw all her French fries on the floor...we're going with YES. Thanks!

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