Attempting to create meal plans. ATTEMPTING.

I’m not much of a cook. In fact, it’s one of the things I hate most in life. Probably because I wait to cook food when I’m ‘hangry’ (so hungry you get angry.) I’ve noticed, however, that since starting my new remote 9-5 job, I enjoy cooking even less. If that’s possible. At the end of every day, I’m so mentally drained and hungry, that the idea of going to make food in this recent heat leaves me eyeing the cereal boxes. And on days when the kids are with their father, that is often my go-to.

My children, however, probably should have something a tad better than Corn Pops for dinner. Lately, it’s been frozen pizzas or chicken nuggets and fries, etc, because… well, see above.

Last weekend, I went down a YouTube rabbit hole of quick and easy dinner ideas. Two things I love. Quick and easy. These same YouTubers tell me I’ll save money this way too. Well, wouldn’t that be a nice bonus?

Most of them said variations of the same thing:

1. Take an inventory of what you already have in your house. What spices do you already have (have they expired?) What condiments are in that side drawer of your refrigerator (have they expired?) What’s in the pantry? What’s frozen that you’ve long forgotten about?

Yeah, this is not a great situation. I know. I know.

Admittedly, this is a valid step. Did I do it? Well, not to the extent it suggests, but I do plan on doing these things. In chunks. Starting with my spice rack. I KNOW there is stuff in there that should be tossed or I will NEVER use. I re-did my pantry recently, so things are pretty easy to see, and yeah, I have stuff I should use up before I buy more. My freezer is small, so again, not much hides there, but I could widdle that down too. I’m starting to see how this might save some money ha.

Write down all of the meals you know how to make without thinking about it. This will eventually sort itself out into about 20-30 meals that you can rotate through which will take out some of that stress of shopping.

I did say I wasn’t a good cook, yes?

My list is NOT great. Part of why I want to try this. Maybe my ideas can expand. My poor kids. ha.

Head over to Pinterest and start pinning. So many of these YouTubers said they went to Pinterest for meal ideas, so off I went, and I went a little pin happy.

I now have a bunch of ideas I think my kids would like and that I might realistically be able to make. Including several crock pot meals. If I can’t throw stuff in a crock pot and walk away, then I need to re-think some things.

Get a binder and start printing off meals you’ve tried/liked and will make again. Then, using your inventory, your grocery staple list, and your new list of meals, you can figure out what meals will work best for your family that week given the schedule you’ve got going on.

I’ve got my binder started…

These are the three meals I’m gonna try out this week.

I’ll eat up some of my frozen leftovers on the days the kids aren’t with me, but this is at least 3 days of dinners that don’t seem super hard and I think will work.

I’ll serve up the sliders with sliced cucumbers, and that bag of frozen fries taking up space in my freezer. The pasta I’ll pair with some frozen garlic bread I have on hand and I’ll whip up a simple salad with the lettuce that I always buy that seems to go bad before we eat it. For the chicken and potato, I’ll roast up some carrots or if I’m super lazy, grab a can of corn or green beans and call it good. Not sure why recipes leave out veggies but they usually do.

Now, did this prep work save me any money at check out? It did, actually. About 50 bucks worth. Is this sort of prep something I can pull off every week? Well, that remains to be seen.

Curious, do any of you meal prep? Got any tips/tricks or easy meals I should add to my binder?

Until next time,

Danielle/Dani Bannister author and experimental cook