It’s no secret that many of us women feel as though cooking food at home would help us feel better, improve our finances, and eliminate a decent amount of during-the-week stress. We talk about it all the time - but it often feels impossible to make a reality. There are weeks and months in life where a structured routine is possible and beneficial. You can find my thoughts on that here. However, since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve had to pair down a decent amount of my rhythms, routines, and systems to the bare minimum. While odds are that you are probably not pregnant, we all have stretches of time that are busier than others when we need to switch to a lighter rhythm. Perhaps it is tax season for the accountant, baseball season for the mom of four boys, or a crazy deadline packed week. Whatever the need, here’s what paired down food solving looks like for us:
1. We still use Wunderlist. This is my favorite list app for so many reasons - but the reason it makes the food cut is because Robert and I can share a list with each other and both add and complete tasks on said list. As we move through our week, we both add any staple we use the last of, or any item we notice we need.
2. We have a weekend food check-in. This is usually a five minute conversation or less while driving, while eating a meal, etc. where we plan out food for the next week. Sometimes, it's just a 5 minute dialogue I have with myself and my bullet journal when I'm planning out the week. (Beware that incorporating Pinterest extends the timeframe exponentially.) I usually ask these questions:
- What do you want for breakfast this week?
- Is there anything you do or don’t want for dinner?
- Do you have any ideas?
*For Married Folks - I've been surprised by how beneficial this conversation has been. It helps to set food expectations for the week and gives Robert the opportunity to toss in ideas for things he would like to cook - or suggest creative things I would never consider on my own.
3. I still maintain basic guidelines:
- Prepared breakfast is essential. (Usually something like banana bread or muffins, but occasionally a quiche or overnight oatmeal)
- At least one dinner must include a meat that I can incorporate into my lunches for the week. (Seasoned crockpot chicken that can be added to fast tacos or salads)
- If I won’t prep food in time to have leftovers for Monday’s lunch, I grab lunch at the grocery while I’m there. (Sushi, adult lunchable, sub, etc.)
- We must have at least one substantial “dinner is late” snack in the house. (Cheese & Crackers, Apples & Peanut Butter)
- We still need 2-3 meals. (This week: crockpot chicken fajitas, grilled pork loin with veggies & rice)
- If I’m just cooking dinners for me, for any part of the week, I will do a second super simple meal.
4. We played around with grocery shopping rhythms until we found one that fit. Right now we grocery shop together. We almost always pop into the grocery while we are already out and about. I tackle the produce, Robert tackles the rest of the list. If we aren’t done at the same time, we help the other knock out the remaining items. We are usually in and out in 15-25 minutes. Not making a separate trip out of the house, and the teamwork are two things that make this click for us right now.
5. We are always open to change. Last week, we ate a spontaneous meal at Costco and ended up freezing some meat we had purchased. We are seriously considering food shopping services for once kiddo is born. We will pop into our local bakery for a loaf of breakfast bread if we’ve had a busy weekend. We don’t stress about needing to pick up an extra grocery item or two during the week (probably because our grocery runs are so short).
More than anything, I hope that these thoughts will help you think outside of the box about what bare-minimum food necessities and food prep look like for you and that you will give it a try!