When you are a mom, life is simply BUSY. You need lots of tricks in your tool bag to survive. One of my tricks involves meal planning and freezer meals. If I don't have a game plan for what we will eat for dinner each night of the week, I end up scrambling and we don't eat the way I want us to. If I don't take time once week to really think about what we will have for dinner, our plates end up being filled with stuff I simply don't want to take pictures of!
I typically sit down once a week with my trusty white board calendar and plan out our family dinners for each night of the week. I use a white board so that I can make changes if I need to and I hang it on the fridge to remind myself of the planning and prep work I need to do to pull it off. I guess it makes me "commit" if you will...I have it displayed for the world to see and I'd better follow through with it.
Planning for dinner around here takes some thought too. I don't think about what I would like for us to eat, but rather I think about what I have available to me and I plan around that instead. Having a family usually means being frugal. If I plan for meals with the ingredients I already have (that I purchased in bulk when they were on sale) I save us money. If I went about it the other way, I could end up planning on spaghetti one night and spend twice as much on the noodles because they were on my menu but they were full price at the grocery store. Does that make sense?
The other big planning that comes into play for me is the rule of two. I try to always double the recipe for whatever I am making and if I can, I will put one of the dishes in the freezer to eat another night. It's like having a savings account of freezer meals and it comes in handy around the farm when our weekend projects turn into 12+ hour days. I simply don't have it in me to prepare a meal I feel good about. If I have a back up in the freezer, I know my family is getting a wholesome meal that I am happy to dish onto their plates.
*homemade enchilada sauce (times two) using a recipe I found on allrecipes.com
*my trusty canned tomato sauce from last season
* frozen chicken salvaged from our Costco rotisserie chicken
*chicken broth made from left over rotisserie chicken
For me, it is worth the time to menu plan and to double recipes as often as I can. It saves the stress of preparing dinner after a long day of work when hunger overrides good meal decisions and it keeps good food on the table. Now that the garden is kicking into gear and canning and preserving season is here, I can set aside many of the ingredients I need to make dinners I feel good about.