Just being honest, this is not my favorite topic. I have an adult-long-life struggle with the whole shebang of preparing food and planning to eat. But, something I have learned is that there’s so much power in your thoughts and the way you look at something. So when it comes to meal planning and grocery shopping, I started to look at it as a positive thing and something that I get to totally bless my family with. I also realized that with everything going on in my life, I have no choice but to meal plan and food prep. It works best for me and my family! Trust me, I don’t have it all together. We still eat out, order in, and all the other things that happen in the business of life. But I have found these tips truly simplify my grocery shopping and meal planning that make food prep so much easier and enjoyable!
In This Episode, Allie Discusses:
The difference between food prep and meal prep.
Choosing a few pre-planned meals and how it will help relieve the pressure of knowing exactly what you will be serving every day of the week.
The value of meal planning one day and grocery shopping a different day (and why you shouldn’t do it all on the same day!)
How removing the fear of repeating meals will make meal planning so much easier on your and your family.
Mentioned in this Episode:
Amanda Wilson’s Instagram
Allie’s 3 Weeks To Minimalist Motherhood
Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hey beauty! Today we’re gonna dive into 10 ways to simplify your groceries and meal planning. Just being honest, this is not my favorite topic. I get asked about it all the time. I’ve been forced to figure some hacks out for my own life, but man, I have an adult-long-life struggle with the whole shebang of preparing food and planning to eat. And why in the sweet name of the Lord do we have to eat so many times a day? Like I can’t. I feel like it would have been much more organized for us to not need to eat as often, but whatevs.
So, I’ve grown to like cooking a lot more this year, but I still just…it’s just not my thing. Some of you might message me later today like “yes, me too” and others might send me a virtual slap across the face for saying this, but I truly would rather get my Nike’s on, get my hair tied up and clean all day than do meal planning, prepping, cooking and all that. It’s just not my favorite thing.
However, I have learned that there’s so much power in your thoughts and the way you look at something, and I really had to come at meal planning as a positive thing and something that I get to totally bless my family with. Brian does help me now too now that he quit his job about two years ago now. (Oh man, it’s crazy that it’s been that long.) And so we do tag team things…we both work, we both homeschool, we both help with house stuff. So that helps. But really, the meals are on me. If I don’t plan it, organize it and say “this is what we’re going to eat and this is when we’re going to go shopping for it,” it’s not going to happen and we’re going end up having takeout. So, this is still totally on me.
It’s just something that I’ve had to accept. It’s just the way that my life is. But with all those things I just mentioned – running the business, homeschooling the kids, running the house, being a person who likes to be busy, likes to be social and do things (I’m really active and my life is full) – there’s no way I can do all those things without planning ahead for my meals.
So, these are just some things that I’ve figured out that I’ve simplified the area of groceries and meal planning for me. Not really talking about like actually cooking and all that, just talking about like planning. Maybe we’ll do another episode about those other things. So here we go. 10 ways to simplify groceries and meal planning.
Number one, choose a few pre-planned meals and just get staple ingredients for the others. Here’s kind of what I mean by that. I think that a lot of us feel the need to know exactly what we’ll be serving for dinner every day of the week. And if that works for you, girl stick with it! I am no expert here. But for me, I’m a little sporadic and that doesn’t work for me. And whenever I plan my week that way, we end up not cooking one or two of the planned dinners and groceries get wasted.
So now I only choose about 2 or 3 exact specific dinners. This is where I’ll try new recipes. Full disclosure: I could eat the same meals all the time forever. Brian is a very picky dude and he’s a food snob. Which is why in the past, one of our biggest, most common arguments was, “Well, then you cook!” But now we’ve just compromised, we’ve talked it out and this is where we’ve landed. He does help with the cooking. Man, he loves to cook and he’s a great cook. But for planning and all that it’s gotta be me or it’s just not going to get done.
He just gets bored and we’ve got to mix it up. So, I do 2 or 3 specifically planned dinners. And then I’ll get basic ingredients like chicken breast, organic bacon, sweet potato and other veggies to make spur-of-the-moment, throw it together, simple meals the other nights. I might also make those other nights repeat meals that we have all the time, like lettuce wrap tacos. That’s something that’s a staple. There’s a Thai dish that we have with pork and cauliflower rice and Bok Choy. That’s something that is a way to get veggies that the kids love. So, we’ll make that a lot. Everyone has their staples.
So just 2 or 3, really specifically planned, “Okay on this night we’re going to have this recipe from Pinterest,” but the other nights are just like there’s basic ingredients that we can make anything out of. And that’s kind of how we do the other meals.
This is basically just my alternative of pre-planning every single meal. Very specifically getting the recipe, writing down the ingredients, going shopping for it, just doing every single meal like that doesn’t work for us.
Number two, get all your planning done in one day each week. So every Sunday night I pour myself a glass of wine and sit down with a notebook and a pen. I choose our 2 – 3 meals and the basic ingredients that I’m going to get for the others, I make a shopping list and map out what we will be buying for breakfast, lunches, dinners, snacks, all of it. I make sure that I’m planning all the way through till the following Monday, which is usually the day I shop and that leads me to my next point.
Number three, choose another day for all the shopping. So, this has ebbed and flowed, so I don’t want you guys to be like, “Why aren’t you meal planning? It’s Sunday night,” if I’m on Instagram stories and I’m sharing that I am doing something else, because that happens. And it’s like, “whoa, relax.”
Typically, Sunday nights I plan our meals and our grocery list and I get it all written down and typically Mondays I’ll do the grocery shopping, but this ebbs and flows. Basically one day plan, another day go get or have it delivered if you have Instacart or whatever. Basically you’re splitting it up so you’re not doing it all in one day and that lightens the load a lot.
I will also say too, I’ve written a blog post about this and I’ll link to it in the show notes, but Sundays are a preparation day in general for us. It’s not just grocery lists. Brian and I have a weekly meeting on Sunday nights. I do my grocery lists and planning. I look at my calendar and look at like what do I have going on this week? And I kind of just mentally get into that headspace.
So I’m kind of “batching” my tasks. Grocery planning is like planning my week, so I do that all in one night. But grocery shopping is totally different. That makes me leave the house, so I do that on a different day. Again this is just what works for me. You might try this and be like, “I’m a mess. This isn’t working for me at all. I hate this.” That’s totally fine. I’m just saying all the other tips out there are totally different than this and they never worked for me, and these are the things that have helped me.
Number four, prep immediately after shopping whenever it’s humanly possible. What I mean by that is instead of bringing in the groceries and putting them straight in the fridge, I’ve started to wash, slice and prep everything as soon as I’m home from errands. So, when I get home from the store I will bring everything in, set it on the counter. Then I will get the raspberries, wash them, dry them, store them in an airtight Tupperware. Same thing with the strawberries, blueberries, blackberries. The potatoes will get washed and sliced up and I’ll saute them with a little bit of grass fed butter and garlic and then I’ll put those in an airtight Tupperware.
And this is awesome because then everything is literally grabbable. In our house we definitely do get a few packaged snacks, but really our snacks are fruit and veggies. So, if everything is prepped, it’s like grabbing a bag of goldfish for the kids as a snack on the go, but instead I’m grabbing some sliced berries or carrots, whatever it is. Everything is snackable and prepped and ready to grab. This reduces the waste so much because the stuff is already prepped and it’s more likely that we’re going to grab it and actually consume it.
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Number five, food prep; don’t meal prep. So, I’ve shared this before. This incredible tip changed my life and it’s from Amanda Wilson of A Wilson Wellness. I will link to her Instagram. I actually did a couple of coaching calls with her about a year and a half ago and this girl changed my life. She’s been on the show before. We’ll link to her episode as well. It’s incredible. She gives doable tips and you know, that’s my style. I love that.
But she told me that it’s okay that meal prepping doesn’t work for everyone. We’ve found that food prepping is much more doable. Food prepping looks like sauteed potatoes, sliced fruit, cooked and shredded chicken, baked sweet potato fries, all stored in the fridge, ready to use. It’s pieces of meals that you can grab, reheat and eat based on what sounds good now and how much time you have versus preparing the whole meal. It just doesn’t work for everybody. So food prep; don’t meal prep.
Number six, base it on your schedule. So, if you know that Wednesday nights are super crazy for your family, have that be a crockpot or take out night every week. Know what works for you.
Number seven, keep a running list of everything you’re out of. This is huge. I think this is the thing that I’m the worst at practicing in real life out of this whole list and it’s so frustrating. I can’t even tell you how much easier my life is when I actually do just keep a running list of everything that I’m out of and I’m really diligent about it instead of trying to make the list from scratch every week. It takes me forever. It’s a huge waste of time.
It’s worth it. I’m just so bad at practicing it and I’m constantly working on it. You can keep a list on your fridge and one on your phone so that you have one physically when you’re looking in your fridge and you notice you took the last of the raspberries, and when you’re out and you think of something you can have your phone with you. Then you check both lists on Sunday nights when you’re making your shopping list and you can say, “Okay, we’re out of this, these things and these things. I’m going to add it to my shopping list.”
Number eight, subscribe to some sort of grocery delivery service, if there’s one in your area. If you live somewhere really rural or it’s just not available to you, I totally understand. Amazon Fresh was in my area and now it’s gone, which I guess is okay because sometimes the stuff wasn’t so great. But things like Instacart, it’s usually like $20 to $30 for me to pay somebody to go and pick up my shopping list for me. That’s money well spent in my opinion, because that’s time that I’m not leaving. I’m not having to pack my kids up and schlepp them to the store and do the whole thing.
I’ve got my list. I can sit on the couch and shop online while the kids are doing their homeschool stuff and then somebody comes and delivers it to my house. It’s amazing, so that has been huge for me. We do it often. It’s just really, really a huge time saver. There’s few things that are really worth it for a family on a budget to really spend money on, but I do think that’s one of them because not only is it time you’re saving, but it’s energy that you’re saving. It’s not those frustrating trips with all your kids that it’s hot outside, or freezing outside depending on when you’re listening to this. And it’s just a lot getting everyone ready, having them go through the store, you forget things because you’re telling the kids to stop pinching each other and it’s just chaos. If you can save yourself a little bit of that for $25 bucks, I say do it.
Number nine, don’t overthink it and know what works. I think so much of the time we overcomplicate things for ourselves. Big Time. Don’t overcomplicate meal planning because it’s daunting or you don’t like it. I’ve been there. Trust me. Streamline. Simplify. Cut out the things that aren’t working and stick to what is.
And number 10, stop being afraid of repeating meals. There is no shame in repeats my friend. I have a friend who rotates like 10 meals exactly that way all the time. They never eat anything else. It’s been that way for years and her family has no complaints. It’s easier for her too, which is a huge win, win. So, if that works for you and you don’t have a food snob husband, like I do, embrace it and count yourself as one of the lucky ones.
That was my top 10 things that have helped me simplify groceries in meal planning.
Here are a few other random things that work for our family. Just a few tips that I am going to spout off that I’ve learned recently and I just hope that it maybe will help someone else listening.
Okay, the first thing is prepped food becomes lunch plates that we can fix up in less than 10 minutes. What I mean by that is when we do our food prepping, for lunch we don’t really like make a meal. We put together a plate of things, I call them protein plates. The kids are always asking, “Mom, can we have protein plates for lunch?” We’ll just put a little bit of shredded chicken, some sliced carrots, some fresh sliced fruit, a little bit of salad with some leftover homemade dressing all together on a plate and just kind of nibble at that. It’s almost like a protein snack plate. Maybe a hard-boiled egg or something like that. And it’s awesome.
We don’t even have to think about lunch, which is huge for us because we’re home all the time. My kids are here for lunch, my husband’s here for lunch, so we’re all here and lunch could basically become another dinner which is stressful, and it’s not because we do like “snacky plates” like that.
Another tip is for breakfast, we keep it so simple and the same meals are rotated because nobody really seems to care if breakfasts are the same all the time. So maybe like a coffee and a protein bar for me and Brian. Actually, Brian doesn’t eat breakfast and I don’t usually either, but if we are going to it’ll be something like that, and then maybe cereal for the kids. So we have like our super simple, bare minimum day. Then smoothies are big for us.
And then we call them “big healthy plates” which is like eggs topped with avocado, uncured bacon, grilled tomatoes with salt and pepper and sweet potato hash. These are for the weekends or days where maybe we got up super early. The mornings that Brian and I get up at 5:00 to bust out a bunch of work before the kids get up, we’re usually pretty hungry for breakfast. So we’ll do that.
Then also a weekend meal, pancakes, bacon, eggs. We’ve got our fun meals and we’ve got our super basic, get the day going meals like coffee and a bar, cereal for the kids, smoothies, things like that.
Also take note of prepped foods that work on the go. So like fresh sliced fruits, grilled chicken cold in a Ziploc baggie, snackable veggies. I actually really like cooked steak, just lightly seasoned, cold. I’ll take that with me if I know that I’m going to be out and I’m going to be hungry and need some really good protein.
Also we always have a couple of really easy frozen meals on hand for emergencies like when the babysitter shows up on time and we were so excited for date night that we have kids that we need to feed and we just want to go. So like Annie’s mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, frozen pizzas. If you don’t want to feed your kids that stuff ever, that is your thing. Go ahead. You do you. But for us we do like to have some of those basic frozen things on hand for emergencies to make our lives easier. We try to pick our battles and sometimes that battle is not dinner for the kids.
And also, I try to always, always, always have kid and adult snacks as well as water bottles in my bag or in the car. We have this leather backpack that is just kind of like our family bag. We don’t have babies right now so I wouldn’t say it’s a diaper bag, but it’s like our family bag and I always have a couple of water bottles in there, some bars, like an Rx bar for me or Brian, a couple of bars for the kids, things like that, just in case. It really cuts down on quick drive-through trips and it makes sure that no one’s cranky or freaking out because they’re starving when we’re on the go or when we are out later than we realized. You know, kids are going to get hungry.
I think that pretty much sums up what I’ve been doing to keep meal prep, grocery shopping and food stuff simplified.
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Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.
I am always rooting for you, friend!
See ya next time!
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