I remember when we first got married. Meal planning in those days was non existent. I honestly don't remember what we ate back in those days before kids, when we both worked, and when we didn't really stick to a budget very strictly.
We are now past the 11 year mark in marriage (and loving it!) and I cannot say that meal planning is something that magically happened. It's always been a challenge. I have tried a lot of different methods in an effort to try and save money, eat healthier and ease some of the stress each night around dinner hour when I start to panic about what's for dinner??
I've learned a lot throughout the years when it comes to our diet. I blogged about real food. My biggest goals now are:
- to eat as unprocessed and "real" as possible
- to stay in our budget each month
- to substitute sugars for more natural alternatives (honey, maple syrup, even less processed sugar)
- to have healthier snacks for our boys
- to vary what we eat nutritionally
- to choose seasonal foods for highest nutrition (and flavor)
To stay in these goals, I have GOT TO MEAL PLAN. My friend Erin at the Honey home, has a great post about meal planning with a bullet journal. I was planning to try her method, but honestly never even had a chance to start it, let alone plan it. Then one day this summer as I was browsing the aisles of Michael's I found a small pocket book sized meal planner. It was simple with a place on one page for meals for the week, and on the opposite page a categorized list to fill in what you need at the grocery store. It was perfect. It thought out the details for me, I just plugged in what we eat, what we need and I was done.
I've been using this book for a couple months now and it's starting to feel doable. A huge accomplishment after floundering for so long. Our meals don't vary too much, and if I want to try a new meal, I try to keep it to just one a week.
I share what I cook every now and then on my instagram, but thought I'd share a few of my favorite meals and snacks that are nourishing, and easy to make. I know as a mom it's so important to make something not only yummy but nourishing for my family, and also not take all day in the kitchen.
I am hoping these food posts aren't too terribly boring, but helpful and that you are able to add in some nutrient rich foods for your own family!
I'm going to try and share weekly, just punch in the search "real food" and you can see what posts and recipes I've shared.
One of my favorite 'real foods' to use is gelatin. Gelatin is a powerhouse for food you can incorporate into your diet regularly, the benefits are tremendous (full of minerals, strong bones, help balance hormones, heal leaky gut, help teeth, hair and nails....and on it goes). I buy a gelatin (Great Lakes unflavored) from Amazon that is made from grass fed cows. It's important to buy one that comes from a healthy animal, as gelatin is made from their bones.
A fun way to use this gelatin is in jello! Yah for jello!
If you read the ingredients on a box of jello in the store, it's full of sugar and dye's. Both of which I don't want to include in our foods. Making your own from scratch takes two ingredients: 100% juice (organic if you can swing it) and gelatin.
I followed the recipe from Against all Grain (found here).
I used this juice for our jello (I'd already mixed it into jello at this point) :
And after following her directions for mixing it, I poured it in our tupperware mold and placed it in the fridge for a few hours. It was a yummy snack for us after dinner! And I love knowing the boys are getting a boost of nutrition with the benefits of gelatin!
Also as a disclaimer, Oliver wasn't a fan of this flavor. It's a carrot/orange blend. He asked for a "red" one. So we'll try a cherry juice next time! (Aleksandr and I thought it yummy).