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Monday, August 8, 2016

Meal Planning Organizers for Every Meal

Now that back to school season is officially upon us, I'm rushing to finish up all of my summer projects to get my house organized and ready for another year! One of the projects I just finished is an update to my command center- specifically my meal planning systems. With a year of getting my kids to school under my belt, it was time for some updates to my systems! I'm happy with the way everything came out and I'm hoping these organizers will make our mornings a little bit smoother...

Let's start with the part that is the same: my dinner meal planner. I went into a lot more detail about this organizer in my post on my command center a few years ago- click the picture below to read more about it, including a tutorial on how to make one for yourself. It's still one of the best systems I have for organizing my home life and it's still working great! I'm hoping to update the recipe cards before the end of the summer to add some new recipes and take some out of the rotation, but otherwise I plan on keeping everything the same.

The rest, however, are completely new. Last year was my first year having to pack lunches every morning for my 4-year-olds, and I was slightly terrified. I created this system for lunch box menu planning that also allowed me to visualize how I was going to pack everything in their bento-style lunch boxes, and it was so helpful to have. If you're packing lunches for the first time and/or need a little extra organization to plan them out, check out my post on that system below:

With a year under my belt now, I don't really need to plan out the girls' lunches in quite as much detail anymore. I found that by the spring, I had a pretty good idea of how much food I needed to buy to last through a week of lunches and how to pack everything in their lunchboxes without having to plan everything out in advance. Still, I need a way to plan out what to buy each week for their lunches. Last year I made this visual, which I originally was going to use as-is:

But I've been slowly redecorating the house (we just moved in about 6 months ago) and I am hoping to paint the kitchen soon, so I decided to make something to match the color scheme better (you can grab any of these images for your own personal use- they are all 300dpi images and should print well):

Basically my plan is to circle the items from each category that I plan to use in the lunchboxes for the week and use that to create my shopping list. Then the following week, I can get ideas for other things to put in their lunches so I'm not repeating the same foods (which we all know is a travesty in the life of a 4-year-old!). I printed it out, popped it in a frame, and now I have a dry erase organizer for lunches!

Although I scaled back on my lunch prep organization system, I actually added one more: a breakfast menu planner.

I know it seems a little over the top, but hear my out. Breakfasts last school year were a problem. One of my girls would wake up every morning, ask what we were having for breakfast, and immediately complain about whatever it was. Even if she had requested it the night before. Also, we were always rushing because we have to be out the door by 7:10am to get to school on time, And lastly, one of my girls is now on a daily medication that she will be taking every morning for probably a few years, and it is a powder that is supposed to be mixed with something for her to eat. So yeah, breakfast needed some help.

I've decided to start having one grain/carb and one protein planned out and ready to eat at home, and pre-make a huge batch of smoothie to last us a few days and take with us in the car. I'll be able to mix the medicine in with the smoothie, and it will save us some time at home. I've included a weekly calendar on this organizer so I can plan out what we are having for breakfast a week at a time. I'm hoping that if I plan it out in plain sight, there will be fewer complaints about the menu selection each morning...? We'll see if it does anything. 

I guess this means I am officially ready for another school year, at least as far as food is concerned! Maybe in a few years I'll be a pro and I won't need any organizers to keep up with our meals, but for now I'm glad to have something to help keep me sane when all the craziness begins :)

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