I was listening to a YouTube productivity guru talk about her shopping strategy for managing her household of 8. And when you’re a sane mom of 6 with twins on the way, you can easily grab another mom’s attention. Obviously, there’s something she’s doing right to have so many thriving individuals relying on her for their daily nourishment. So, I was all ears when she started talking about how she meal plans for her large family.
As she was talking about her shopping productivity tactics, I intently honed in on one that she described because it’s the very same tactic I use for my smaller family of 5. Now, I must admit that I wasn’t clever enough to think of such an idea, plan how to carry it out, and then execute the plan. No. I just sort of organically started doing it without being fully cognizant of the fact that I had, over time, developed a simple way to meal plan for my family without having to go so hardcore on the “planning” part.
I’m not a natural shopper. In fact, I despise shopping — hate it even. It’s a wonder my family has food to eat at all. There are 3 other adults in the household, but I’ve pretty much made the weekly food field trip to the grocery store my thing. And, they gladly accept me taking the lead on this one. After all, none of them really want to fool with it either and can think of so many excuses for having more “important” things to do that preoccupy way too much of their time. Truth be told, husband and children just aren’t going to get the job done to my expectations anyway, so I’ve pretty much made it easy on all of them and decided to exempt them from meal prep and shopping a long, long time ago.
And yes, I know there are food services that cater to the non-shopper, but I’m not quite ready to go there yet. If I’m a little hesitant to have my family do the weekly shopping, then you must imagine that I’d be even more particular about delegating the picking out of my produce, meats, and cheeses to someone who may not have my or my family’s best interests in mind. So, I’ll gladly continue to lead this awesome responsibility of nourishing my family each and every week, even if it means reluctantly forcing myself to make a bi-weekly trek to the store.
Okay, so let me head back to my previous discussion on the productivity hack that this wife/mompreneur and I share. Well, I found out this YouTuber practically does what I’ve graduated into and that’s simplifying our weekly menus by purchasing food items that are interchangeably used to create multiple meals. And there you have it . . . the secret to making meal-time less of a headache and more of a streamlined process.
I have some food staples that I use for multiple meals and I thought I’d mention a few of my favorite things in hopes that they might spark ideas and possible options for less painful weekly meal planning and shopping on your end as well. Some of the items I always have on hand are as follows:
- raw spinach and kale – used in green drinks, in tossed salads, as garnishes for sandwiches/paninis/soft tortillas, and over tortilla chips.
- seasoned diced or shredded chicken and beef – used in and on so many things, such as in soups/stews/chilis, in lasagnas, as stand-alone main courses, in between hamburger buns, as chicken salad or a healthier version of sloppy joes, over chips, in tortillas/nachos or paninis, and mixed in pasta dishes.
- flour used to make breads, tortillas, pie crusts, biscuits, rolls, and pasta.
- berries and bananas – used as stand-alones, in smoothies and green drinks, mixed with cereals, in muffins, and in homemade ice creams.
- nuts (pecans, peanuts, cashews, walnuts) – used as stand-alones, in salads, some used in muffins or brownies or ice creams, some used in side dishes such as sweet potato casserole, and in homemade trail mixes for an “in-between meals” snack.
- diced/chopped veggies such as green/yellow/red bell peppers, white/yellow/red/green onions, carrots, tomatoes, jalapenos, and olives – used in soups/stews/chilis, in salads, in Mexican dishes, in sandwiches/paninis/soft tortillas, and over nachos.
- beans such as pinto, black, navy, red kidney – used as stand-alones, in soups/stews/chilis, in Mexican dishes such as enchiladas/tacos/nachos/burritos/soft tortillas, and in bean burgers (vegetarian-style).
- cheese – used in everything — need I say more? (Ha-Ha)
- starchy fillers such as red/yellow potatoes, sweet potatoes, and brown and white rice – used in everything from stand-alone sides (like fries, potato salads, roasted and fried options), in soups/stews/chilis, and in casseroles and one-dish skillet meals such as chicken and rice and Shepherd’s Pie).
- seasonings continuously on hand – used in so many things and they are as follows: pink Himalayan salt, pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, yellow mustard, Italian seasoning, cumin, cinnamon, all spice, ginger. (However, if I could only choose my top three that can basically do justice to most food items, I’d have to go with a salt, pepper, and garlic powder combo.)
Keep in mind that the above is not an exhaustive list. If I thought about it some more, I’m sure I could extend the offerings quite a bit, but I just wanted to throw a few things at you to get the creative cooking juices flowing and then let you take it from here. But hey, I do have a few more tips for meal-planning time-saving that I included in the following blog post, entitled Buffet-Style Meal Planning for the Big Get-Together. So, you might check it out as well.
I tell you what. This productivity tip will save you a lot of wear and tear. And, it may be a hack you develop over time as you take note of what food items you and your family consume on a regular basis. Once you’ve determined the frequent flyers that consistently make their way into your refrigerator, freezers, cupboards and pantries, then you can identify some multiple mainstay meals that are sure to please, unlikely to get old to your family members, and easy to place on the table week after week. Bank on these food items to make up your no-brainer grocery list and interchangeable meals that will create a go-to menu for you and your family for the long-term.
Now, when it comes to efficiency in the kitchen, I’m all for it. So, hit me up with your multi meal plan ideas (as I’m always looking for new things to try out on my family). Here’s to less fuss, mess, and stress in the kitchen and at meal-time.