I'm a big believer in eating meals with your family, but I'll admit, it's not easy. It takes creativity and patience, along with a bit of trial-and-error, but it IS possible!
Today I'm sharing my meal planning process. This works for me and maybe it'll help you too.
A MASTER MENU LIST
This is exactly what it sounds like. I created a list of our favorite meals and put them into a table format. My full list is about 2 pages long. Click here to print a blank template.
In the picture above, you can see that I've listed meals on the left. At the top, I've listed the months.
Every time we eat a meal, I put a check in the box for that month. Note - I don't mark the meal until we've actually eaten it. After all, some weeks life gets busy and the plan changes!
And yes, if you look closely, you'll see some of my meals are super-easy. No judgement allowed! Family meals are important to me, but I never said it had to be fancy!
PLAN A WEEKLY MENU
This is where the Master Menu List really comes in handy!
Every Saturday or Sunday, I make a meal plan for the week. I simply grab that list and choose meals that we HAVEN'T eaten recently.
If you're like me, you can get into a rut and make the same thing over and over. That's fine of course, but this system helps rotate meals and I like that.
Planning Tip: I found it helpful to have a rough schedule of when I'll cook and when we'll eat leftovers. After all, some teaching days are so busy that I can't cook big meals. On those days, we'll eat leftovers, I'll use the crockpot, or it'll be something super simple, like pizza bagels.
Here's my current meal plan:
WHAT ABOUT NEW RECIPES?
Honestly, I'm not an adventurous cook. Life's been busy and it hasn't been a top priority.
But THIS year, things are different. I have a Master List of recipes that I plan to try and guess what? I've already tried several of them in the past couple weeks! It's all about spoiling my son before he heads off to college. Discovering new meals is one way I'm doing that.
Over the next few months, I'll share my favorites with you. Some of them have been huge hits with Kevin and Matthew!
MY FAVORITE BREAKFAST!
NOTE: If you don't like oatmeal - STAY WITH ME! My husband doesn't like oatmeal either, but this is more like....granola and he loves it. So does Matthew!
It's called Overnight Oats. I heard about this a long time ago, but avoided it because I don't like mushy oatmeal.
Steel oats is more my style. It has a nutty, chewy texture and I love it!
My overnight oats recipe is for steel oats, although you could use either. It literally takes less than 5 minutes to make the day before. The next day, just grab a spoon and dive in!
Overnight Oats Recipe
Grab your favorite mug (I love this one!) and mix the following:
NOTE: Steel oats are very hard and this mixture needs to sit for at least 8 hours to be soft enough to eat. The best part is that they'll maintain the chewy texture for a couple days in the fridge, so go ahead and make a couple mugs for the week. You'll be glad you did!
If you liked this post, you might enjoy:
This Year I'm Saying YES to My Family
Teach Piano AND Have Dinner With Your Family? YES!
Quick and Tasty Meatballs
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
Family has always been important to me, but this year, more than ever, I'm putting family first.
My son, Matthew, is a senior in high school and you better believe, I want to treasure this time before he heads off to college.
So instead of teaching most afternoons, I'm leaving time to cook yummy meals and try new recipes.
Is it my shameless attempt to lure him home when he's off at school? Absolutely!
But seriously, my real goal is to simply be...AVAILABLE. If he's free and wants to hang out with me (be still my heart!) I want to be available.
The last thing I want is to look back with regret because I didn't cherish this time.
NOT AFRAID TO SAY NO
Of course, all of this hinges on my ability to say NO and truthfully, that's not easy for me. I'm a "yes" girl at heart. I want everyone to be happy.
But setting boundaries is important. I've written before about the necessity of learning to say NO and this "yes" girl is definitely getting better! Mostly because I'm getting a lot of practice!
The school year hasn't even started and I've said NO to:
Yikes! Just looking at that list stresses me out! But you know what's crazy? Normally, I would have said "yes" to everything without even blinking.
I would have reworked my schedule to make everyone happy and then I would have been completely overwhelmed.
Not this year! My priorities are set.
These are the "yes" decisions I've made:
A SIDE BENEFIT
One of the best parts of this decision is that I feel a huge weight off my shoulders. Since I'm not overwhelmed with commitments this year, my focus will be better. And I'm excited about that!
There will be TIME. Because I'm MAKING time - for the things that matter most.
I'd love to hear how you're making time for the important stuff!
Hi there! I'm Tracy Selle. A Christian wife, mom, and author of 101 Piano Practice Tips. I'm also a piano teacher and founder of Upbeat Piano Teachers.