You’re stressed, you’re overwhelmed, dinner is either a 2-hour affair including hurricane level messes in the kitchen OR takeout because you just can’t kitchen. You know meal prep coud help, but you’re just not sure where to start. Read on for family mealtime strategies you can try when you don’t know where to start.
Alright my friends, welcome back to the podcast today!
This episode is for all of you who have been listening and following along, but you still haven’t jumped in on the meal planning and meal prep bandwagon yet.
I get it.
You understand that these techniques can help but you just have NO IDEA where to start!
Well, I totally get that.
As helpful and time-saving and life-changing as these techniques are, I definitely didn’t implement them all overnight (and in full disclosure, I DON’T use every single technique every single day or week. There are plenty of weeks that I just don’t get around to many or sometimes any meal prep techniques) BUT when I do, they make a world of difference and I think when you just jump in and try one thing, you’ll love seeing how your life improves.
Next, I want to say, that part of the reason this is all so overwhelming at first is that I’m just spitting out a ton of information at you. I get that. It’s kind of the nature of doing a podcast. I cover a lot of topics and I just go a little bit more than surface-level in depth. This is intentional. A lot of the deep nitty gritty of the system of meal planning and meal prep simply just isn’t entertaining enough to make great content for the podcast. Which is why I’m saving all of that information and putting it together in the comprehensive course that will come out later this year (make sure you’re on the waitlist if you’re not!)
So, while I hope that this episode can help you get unstuck and try SOMETHING if you still feel paralyzed with fear, the course might be for you. The course will take you step-by-step through the process of creating your own meal planning and meal prep system based on your life, your diet, and your goals and you will never have to ask the question “but what should I do first” because it will all be outlined for you.
So I KNOW that it can be overwhelming and hard to apply, I’ve got you (that’s why I’m creating a course) and in the meantime I’m here to give you the tasks that will give you the biggest bang for your buck in each of the 4 areas for successful family meals (and lives).
If you’re new around here you may not be familiar with the 4 habits of moms who have mastered meal time. Some of them may seem a little surprising or unrelated, but they are NOT. They need to be addressed in order for the less surprising tasks to work. If you want to learn more about the pillars listen to this episode of the podcast or download your very own guide by entering your email below.
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Family mealtime strategies for when you don’t know where to start
I’m going to dig into ideas for places to start in each of the 4 categories (or habits) that moms who have mastered meal time practice. Just because I’m giving you several ideas doesn’t mean you should try several things. That would be a recipe for disaster.
This list is to get you going in the right direction of things that might help. But I want you to choose JUST ONE THING to try. Try it for a few weeks and evaluate how it’s working. If it’s working well keep doing it, and once it becomes easy consider adding something else. This is not a race and doing too much may just send you back to the beginning so practice self-love and discipline by not allowing yourself to bite off more than you can chew. Okay? Okay let’s dig into the ideas.
To choose which category to try a task from consider which area of your life is causing you the most trouble. As an example, if you’re feeling depressed your meals are probably a disaster. However, you would probably be better off practicing self-care or mindset work to help you feel more like yourself before you jump into self-care. The habits that I discuss build on each other (the most important and first priority comes first) so as soon as you get to a habit that you feel like you don’t have “down” that’s probably where you should begin.
Simple tasks to improve your mealtime mindset or practice self-care
Let’s start with the first habit of successful moms which is mindset practice or self-care.
It sounds super cheesy but the first step to successful meals as a mom is believing that YOU are capable of achieving the meals you envision.
Mindset was so much of the hurdle when it came to figuring out a successful mealtime strategy.
Limiting beliefs are powerful, and the annoying thing about them is that when you listen to them, they come true, leading you to believe that you were right all along, when in reality the reason that the limiting belief came true was BECAUSE you believed it.
Let me explain. If you believe that cooking from scratch is just too time-consuming, and then you try it out, it probably will be time-consuming (for a few reasons, #1 because you are NEW to it, and #2 because you aren’t specifically looking for solutions to make it less time-consuming). So after you’ve tried for a week or so you think, I was right. It was too time-consuming. I’m not doing that again.
But what if instead you believed something different. What if you BELIEVED that cooking from scratch easily and quickly was possible. Your whole approach would be different. Instead of picking random recipes, you’d be strategic and pick recipes you knew you could execute quickly. You might even look for resources to help you cook from scrach quickly (you might even stumble across this podcast). In this case you are likely to be proven right (again) because you believed it to be true.
Alright, now let’s talk about self-care. Because of any of the habits that I talk about, this one seems the least related to meal time. Let’s talk about why it’s DEFINITELY related.
Providing meals for your family is one giant act of service. We’ve all heard that analogy time and time again about putting on your own mask in the airplane before you put on your kid’s masks (let’s ignore the fact that if those masks fall down in the airplane we’re all dying anyway). The point here is that your cup needs to be full in order for you to be able to serve those you love well. Let’s see what family mealtime strategies you could start today!
Simple ideas to get started on improving your mindset and self-care
So let’s talk about some basic mindset or self-care tasks that could help you find the time and space to simplify your mealtimes:
- Read a book on limiting beliefs or mindset. Try Never good enough by Monica Ramirez Basco or Mindset by Carol Dwick.
- Make a list of your limiting beliefs and consider how you can change the narrative (hint: the one I hear the most often is “I don’t have time.”
- Look at your digital life and see if changing your social media or phone habits could open up space to simplify your meals or home life
- Make a list of self-care activities. Also write down whether they energize you or take away energy so you can use them appropriately. An example would be social media could be considered self-care, but if you feel drained when you are done then it might not be the best choice to choose most often. If reading a book or playing a musical instrument leaves you with MORE energy to do when you are done, then these activities are better choices when you feel drained.
- Listen to podcasts about self-care, mindset, or personal development. I personally love Jody Moore. I also have SEVERAL mindset episodes you may want to listen to that I’ll be sure to list in the shownotes.
Family mealtime strategies to improve planning
…and no I’m not talking meal planning yet. I’m talking regular old life-planning.
So maybe you feel like your mindset’s in an okay spot and you’re feeling motivated and ready to change. You might want to jump right into that meal plan, but not so fast. Your life plan comes first.
Mastering planning your day-to-day life ensures that you create a meal plan that makes sense for your busy life, not one that’s just going to cause more stress and more overwhelm.
I talk to so many moms who have no strategy when it comes to meal planning, they just download one for free off the internet or write one down willy-nilly.
It’s no surprise that loads of meals go uncooked and wilty produce gets thrown away. My husband works until 8:00 one night a week. I never make ambitious meal plans that night. My daughter has soccer one night a week. On this day I know I need something fast or something that I can set and forget in the crockpot. Planning is crucial to a successful meal plan.
Suggestions for beginning planning:
I have only two suggestions for where to begin with planning.
- The first is to schedule a weekly personal planning session.
If you don’t have a planner, grab a notebook or a piece of printer paper. Or even the notes app on your phone. You don’t need to be fancy. Write out everything you’ve got going for the week before you make your meal plan.
- The second is to schedule a family planning session.
If your kids are little (or you don’t have kids) this could include just you and your husband. As the kids grow older include them so that everyone is on the same page every single week and so you (mom) don’t have any surprises that end up de-railing dinnertime.
Family mealtime strategies to improve meal planning
When you sign up for my course you’ll get my unique template for meal planning that completely will take all of the guesswork OUT of meal planning.
But until then, there are absolutely some family mealtime strategies you can start with to make meal planning easier.
Suggestions for beginning meal planning:
- Save all of your recipes in one spot. I like to use a recipe binder, but you could use an app like evernote, a recipe box, anything. But try to gather up any recipes that is TRIED AND TRUE. If you haven’t tried it yet, put it somewhere different. We’re trying to make a safe space for you to come up with meals quickly (say goodbye to pinterest) that you know will turn out. Your list might be small at first, that’s okay! You can add to it with time, but choosing tried and true recipes is a surefire way to get maximum meal plan success.
- Save past meal plans. Instead of reinventing the wheel every week, save your entire meal plan. You can re-arrange the days to work for your schedule but you’ll save loads of time by saving your favorite meal plans and even your grocery lists. You could even laminate those grocery lists for a certain meal plan so you can grab and go with almost no thinking.
- Make a list of all of those favorite recipes that you’ve gathered in one spot. By having it in list form you won’t have to sort through all the papers and you can meal plan faster.
- Categorize your meals. Categorizing can help you meal plan faster. If you have a fast and easy category you can easily look through that on the days you’ve already determined you will need a fast and easy meal. This can also help you choose meals with similar ingredients so you can double up on your time spent meal-prepping.
Family mealtime strategies to improve meal prep:
I’ve said it time and time again. Meal prep is the secret sauce. This is what will take your evenings from good to best when it comes to peaceful mealtimes.
But, meal prep is also the most complicated piece of the puzzle. There’s a lot to learn from what can I freeze to how much should I meal prep to where to find the time for meal prep.
Because of that, this is where a lot of people get stuck. They have the other parts of the puzzle down but this one can feel a little paralyzing.
But like I always say, some is better than none, we don’t have ANY space for all-or-nothing thinking here.
So let’s talk about the simplest family mealtime strategies for meal prep you can start out with.
Suggestions for beginning meal prep:
- Prep a healthy lunch for yourself for the week #selfcare. Good options are soups that reheat well, or salads that you can keep separate and assemble when it’s time to eat.
- Prep a protein that you can use for several meals throughout the week.
- Choose one meal from your meal plan that you could double and freeze for later.
- Prep a breakfast like overnight oats so you are energized to start your day
Alright my friends, there are the mealtime strategies for people who don’t know where to start. My challenge to you is to choose just one idea from this list and try it this week. I would love it if you would report back to me by emailing me at [email protected] and let me know how it goes.
The hardest thing you’ll ever have to do is start. After you’ve started it’s just a matter of fine-tuning to get the strategy that will work perfect for you!
So just start my friends!
Alright, with Easter next week I’m going to dig into all of the things you can do with those leftovers. So if you’re planning a ham dinner get that ham in the freezer when you’re all done and we’ll talk about how you can use it in the weeks to come! I can’t wait my friends!
Thanks for listening, and happy planning!