Happy Friday! Today I am answering a request from a reader wanting to know how I meal plan and grocery shop.
I have to say I love to cook and I actually love to grocery shop too (especially when I am kid free). My happy place is truly in the kitchen with a glass of wine cooking. That being said I do not cook everyday, who has time for that with small kids? I do cook 2-3 times a week. The other days we eat leftovers and on Fridays we always order food usually pizza or Thai food.
GROCERY SHOPPING + MEAL PLANNING
I am not the best about planning out meals in advance and grocery shopping for the week. I would say I go to the store several times a week however I do make my big run for the week on withe Sunday or Monday morning. If I go Sunday Matt usually watches the kids or if I don't make it Sunday I will go Monday after I take Frances to school. Grocery shopping with two whiney kids is never easy so I try to do it alone. If I make a quick run during the week I usually do this when both kids are in school or occasionally we all go after we pick Sterling up from school.
As far as meal planning I usually flip through my cookbooks on Sunday and try and get a vague idea of what I want to cook that week. I love to cook a big Sunday dinner. It is a nice way to wind down from the weekend and all sit down as a family and eat.
This week's menu was:
SUNDAY- Black bean cakes + Squash Casserole
MONDAY- Gnocchi and Vodka Sauce (I bought this from the Farmers Market, I always pick up their pasta and keep it in the freezer for quick weeknight meals) + leftover squash casserole
TUESDAY- Garden Veggie Pie + green peas
WEDNESDAY- Leftover Garden Veggie Pie
THURSDAY- Fish Tacos + black beans + street corn
WHAT DO THE KIDS EAT?
I can't tell you how often I get the question what do your kids eat? Do they eat the same thing as Matt and I? 90% of the time yes they eat what Matt and I are having for dinner. I try hard not to cook a separate meal for them. Now sometimes I will serve the meal in a different way like if I make a chopped salad I leave the lettuce off their plates and just do the toppings they will eat.
Do they complain? Always. Most nights Sterling sits down and exclaims this all looks gross I am not eating. To which we reply fine then you may go straight to bed and then usually he changes his mind.
Sterling as much as he complains has turned into a pretty good eater and now Frances is my picky one. If they do not eat their dinner they do not get anything else to eat and trust me they go to bed hungry often. Sterling is old enough that I will offer him dessert if he eats a certain portion of his dinner and that usually inspires him to eat. Frances is harder these days and very stubborn. She is going thru a phase where she likes no veggies and just wants to eat fruit.
If I have an event or I am going out and not cooking that night I will usually cook something frozen for them like chicken nuggets or fish sticks, or pick up sushi. As far as frozen foods go I usually only buy the Morning Star, kidfresh and Amy's products for them. I know they are are processed too but they are not quite as bad as other brands.
ARE WE ALL MEAT FREE?
Matt is the only true meat free person in our house and he is a pescatarian. He will eat fish and shellfish just no meat of any kind. The kids and I do still eat meat although I don't really eat red meat anymore. I do still eat my beloved bacon and chicken occasionally . The kids eat everything although I don't cook with much meat anymore. Sterling will sometimes ask for beef tacos so when he does I make Matt and I fish tacos and cook a small batch of red meat for him. I also pick up a rotisserie chicken sometimes and shred that for them. Now that I don't meat that often I don't ever crave it so really the only time I eat it when I am out to eat.
GROCERY STAPLES EACH WEEK
I have a few items I always buy each week at the grocery store to have on hand for easy lunches and dinners.
Rao's Marinera (great with the Trader Joe's ravioli)
salami and or pepperoni
Ravioli and or fresh pasta (I buy this at the Farmer's Market but Trader Joe's has some great ravioli)
WHEN DO I COOK?
Depending on what I am making I usually start cooking while Frances naps in the afternoon and Sterling is still at school between 1-2:30. That is when I do most of my prep work or if it is something like enchiladas or a casserole I assemble the entire dish. If it requires more work and cooking time after that I start up again at 5-5:30. I usually bathe the kids by 5, I like an early bath time and dinner. Then after bath I let them watch a tv show while I finish up dinner.
DO WE ALWAYS EAT AS A FAMILY?
I would say maybe 3 nights a week Matt is home in time to eat with us. The other nights when he works a little later I sit down and eat with the kids usually by 6. They are like vultures starting around 5 wanting snacks, telling me how hungry they are and starving so I try and serve them dinner early. I am usually hungry by then anyways so even if Matt is not home I sit down and eat with them. I think it is nice to sit down, say a blessing together and chat about their days.
EASY WEEK NIGHT MEALS
I wanted to round up a few easy week night meals.
A few go-to's that are not pictured are Ravioli, veggie plate- I usually do something like roasted broccoli, slow cooked dried beans and mac and cheese, sushi, and salmon cakes.
I make this dish at least once a month. I love it and the kids will usually eat it.
We do tacos at least one night a week. Our new favorite are these Shrimp Tacos although sometimes we sub flounder or mahi for the Shrimp. I usually prep all the ingredients like the salsa and cabbage before hand so then at dinner time all we have to do is cook the shrimp or fish.
These are great because you can assemble them ahead of time and just keep in the fridge til you are ready to cook them. I also make these Salmon cakes frequently too.
I alway love enchiladas because you can assemble the whole dish ahead of time. I also like this black bean version and these beef ones.
These are fairly quick to assemble and so tasty!
We used to make these all the time back when Matt still ate meat. Super simple and full of flavor.
You can stuff and assemble these ahead of time and then just bake. They one of my favorite vegetarian meals. I also like this version with broccoli and gouda.
I always love a chopped salad for dinner. You can chop everything and have it ready to at dinner all you have to do is toss everything together.