Welcome to How I Eat: Meal Planning for Normal People. (If you missed it, click over to read more about this series on The Pajama Chef.) This series is meant to inspire readers (and myself!) with tips and tricks for meal planning and getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re cooking for one or a crowd, I firmly believe that good food shouldn’t be sacrificed just because life is busy.
Today’s feature on How I Eat is Sarah. Sarah lives in the Cincinnati area with her family. Our husbands were college roommates, and though we don’t see each other often, it’s always fun when we do. 🙂 I love chatting about recipes, food blogs, and more with her!
Tell us about yourself. Who are you cooking for? What else influences how you get meals on the table?
I cook for my husband and my two small boys (ages 6 & 22 months). I am a stay at home mom which means I sometimes have time to prep meals ahead of time. But the reality is my youngest is screaming while I type this. We really like slow cooker meals, soups, and casseroles (easy clean up is our main concern). My husband’s family has a history of heart disease and he is trying to lower his cholesterol, so “Heart Healthy” meals are something we also try to make on a regular basis.
What meals do you plan?
In a typical week, approximately how many meals per week do you plan to eat at home or prepare to take with you (e.g., to work or school)? No shame… curious minds want to know! For this, I would include any food purchased at the grocery store (e.g., rotisserie chicken, bagged salad mix, etc.) but not takeout.
- 19-20: I eat out once or twice a week.
What is your basic meal planning method?
It’s really more of a venn diagram of what’s on sale and what my kids are willing to eat. My husband will ultimately eat anything I make. I like to look at our activities for the week as well as the weather. Believe it or not, the weather really helps us with our meal planning. When it’s really cold we really like soups, casseroles, and slow cooker meals. When it’s warmer we enjoy grilling and eat more raw fruits and veggies, as well as things like chicken and tuna salad. As far as activities predicting the menu goes, I have choir rehearsals on Wednesday evenings and my oldest has swim lessons on Tuesday evenings. On Tuesdays we some version of “Taco Tuesday.” It’s fast, easy, inexpensive, and everyone likes it. On Wednesdays I make soup or a slow cooker meal. I can dig in before Hubby gets home and then he can feed the boys after I leave for rehearsal.
What are your favorite weeknight meals?
What are your “no-brainer” meals? Or what meals do you make when there’s “nothing” to eat?
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Brinner (Breakfast for dinner)
- Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Do you use any tools to help you create your meal plan and/or execute it?
- Home meal delivery service (e.g. Blue Apron or HelloFresh)
- Freezer or batch cooking
Is there anything you would like to elaborate on from the previous question?
We just started using Blue Apron, so far we really like the food. It really helps on days that my husband doesn’t get home from work till 6:00 pm. I can feed the kids something then after we put them to bed, we can eat an adult meal. I also really enjoy cooking with him and having a meal with just us (date nights are expensive when you have to add a sitter).
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting to meal plan?
Aim to follow 80% of your plan 80% of the time.
Anything else you want to add?
Our priority is our boys and the time we spend in the evenings with them. We really value authenticity over perfection and believe that our “good enough” is sometimes more than enough. We aren’t perfect and don’t try to be. Thank you Sarah, for asking me to be a small part of your new series. Love reading your blog and love that our lives have crossed paths.
Thank you, Sarah! I love your attitude of “good enough” instead of perfection! This is true in so many areas of life, not just the kitchen. 🙂 Great tip to do Blue Apron for a date night… that sounds like so much fun. I need to try those weeknight meals! That honey mustard chicken looks fantastic! Hope our families can get together soon.