Seriously, even I can do this!

I’m sitting here at Kneaders Bakery & Cafe, as I write to all of you. I was going to go to Panera but thought I should try something brand new. It definitely paid off; this place is amazing and the fruit tart is so creamy and delicious! 

Also, can I just share with you privately here on the world wide web, that I just realized my sweater jacket was inside out. I’ve been in public for over an hour.

Moving on to the EASIEST meal plan EVER. I was chatting with my good friend last night. She knows my husband is deployed and I have young children and am pregnant, and wanted to find a practical way to help me. When she mentioned meal planning I said YES, we can talk about meal planning! Help me! See, I’m a good cook and I can make any recipe and it turns out great. But I don’t have the energy to make complicated recipes. Meal planning services like emeals are exhausting for my poor ADD brain because it’s new every week and there’s fifteen ingredients and you might only use a tablespoon out of your giant bunch of parsley… it just feels complicated to me and I struggle to find the energy to do it. I have tried Plan to Eat, which is basically a website where you can put in your own recipes and create your meal plans easily, and I do like that. But again, I tend to over-complicate it. When I’m depressed and stressed and my ADD is kicking in, it just feels like a lot more work than it should. So I buy the ingredients, and make a PB & J sandwich instead.

The way my friend laid out this idea for me made so much sense and it’s so simple. This is for the mama who is too worn out to do anything complicated. You’re going to love it. Are you ready for this?

We picked a couple of proteins that my pregnant self is tolerating well at this time – chicken and ground beef. She said, get a rotisserie chicken and shred it, stick it in the fridge. Get a couple of pounds of ground beef and cook it up, put it in the fridge. Now you always have an easy source of protein, ready to go within minutes of just warming it up. You can even freeze some of it for later.

Next, grab frozen veggies in a steamable bag. They’re already cleaned and chopped. They’re so good for you but so easy. Pop a bag in the microwave and boom. Prep work done.

Finally, have a few sauces and flavorings on hand. Jar of alfredo sauce, soy sauce, salsa, spaghetti sauce.

You’re done! When it’s time for a meal, you’ll have it on the table in ten minutes. Here are some great combinations she recommended:

Chicken and broccoli with alfredo sauce
Ground hamburger or chicken with peppers and onions, topped with salsa (add sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, and/or black olives if they’re handy!)
Stir fry veggies with ground hamburger and soy sauce (again, avocado is good on top)
Ground hamburger with spaghetti sauce, add some ricotta or cream and top with mozzerella. Add spinach, mushrooms, or black olives to mix it up
Shredded chicken and veggies or fresh spinach, stirred up in some good chicken broth for chicken soup

I would add to her ideas:
Ground hamburger with green beans and a pat of butter
Shredded chicken with taco seasoning over a salad, add ranch

There’s a couple of things I really love about this idea:

– It’s simple. This means no complicated grocery lists or things to remember. It also means recipes are easy on the brain, and no measuring or chopping!
– Most of the ingredients will keep for a long time. Raw meat and fresh produce go bad if you forget them for a couple of days, but frozen veggies and the sauces will keep a very long time and the cooked meat will last longer than raw meat.
– You can mix and match as you mood suits. I hate buying five ingredients for a specific meal, only for it to not sound good to my pregnant belly after all. With this method you don’t have to commit to anything ahead of time. Change the flavors in the moment. Easy.
– It’s healthy! Now, everyone has a different idea of what healthy means, but to me it’s less processed foods, no sugars or grains, and low carb. This fits the bill so nicely. If you prefer more carbs, just think of your favorite healthy carb that’s easy for you to add!

I hope this blows your mind as much as it did mine. It sounds really basic but that’s why I love it.  I want to eat healthy, I just need there to be an EASY way to do it. And I want to spend less on groceries; pre-made meals and fast food is much more expensive. Now granted, it’s cheaper to buy a raw chicken than a rotisserie, and cheaper to buy fresh produce than chopped frozen (maybe?), and cheaper to buy a regular bag of veggies than a steamable bag… but you have GOT to meet yourself where you are NOW. Are you up to cooking a raw chicken and shredding it, chopping fresh veggies/breaking out the steamer for frozen veggies? If so, go for it! If not, give yourself permission to make life easier for a couple of bucks. You can still probably buy a week of these dinners for less than taking your family out to eat.

Oh and best of all? My kids will totally eat this. They like meat and veggies, as a rule. Tin-tin doesn’t like creamy sauces (looking at you, keto whom I love) or too many new flavors. He can handle pieces of chicken and broccoli with parm on top, or ground hamburger with peppers.

I look forward to using this when I get back from my trip next week. I’ll keep you all updated on how it goes! Until then, hold on to hope! <3