There are a million posts and articles out there about the benefits of polyamory, including some by yours truly. They talk about things like freedom, and autonomy, and support. But there are some perks that don’t get as much airtime. And one of those is meal planning help.
If you, like me, have a fairly large family living under one roof, you know that any help around meal time can be a godsend. I don’t know about you, but my days are pretty busy. Munchkin takes up the majority of my time during the days. And in the evenings I’m off to the office for work. I also have this blog and other writing projects I juggle in between. So cooking dinner for my family is not high on the list of things I enjoy doing every single night. Shocking, I know.
As for the others in the house, well Lovey’s work keeps him out of the house all day at least 5 days a week. Sometimes more, depending on the season. Sass & Crumbs are still learning their way around the kitchen, and have the palates of a toddler most days. Not to mention the school work and friend time they fit into their days. So dinner & meal planning inevitably falls to mom.
Some months, I can get my ducks in a row long enough to work out a meal plan. But then those ducks decide to run amuck, and Poof! There’s goes the meal plan. And the kids end up eating more ramen than they probably should. And it doesn’t seem to matter which meal planning technique I try. I’ve done the calendar, the list, the weekly, the bi-weekly, etc. You name it, I’ve tried it. It always falls apart sometime before the plan ends.
But! The last couple of months, Bats has been staying with us. They teamed up with me to help make dinners and do some meal planning. And let me tell you, it has been a game changer!
How we do it
At the end of the month, we make a list of about 21 meals for the next month. Some new recipes we’ve been itching to try out. Some classics that everybody loves, like spaghetti and tacos. And some easy ones for those crazy days where everyone seems to have a million things going at once. We found that 21 gives us just enough to not feel overwhelmed with the prospect of having to cook every day, while also giving us flexibility to order out once in a while. And it leaves days open to get through the leftovers that fill the fridge, because there are always leftovers!
Once the list is done, Bats & I pull the recipes together from their various sources and make out a big grocery list of everything we will need. Things that won’t keep for the whole month, like salad and rolls, are left off to be picked up on an as needed basis. Everything else gets picked up in one big shopping trip. Bulk stores like Costco are great for this! After the shopping list is made, the recipes & meals list go on the fridge together for easy reference.
Sticking to just a simple list instead of a calendar spread gives us more flexibility too. We can pick and choose what we feel like that day. It also lets us adjust how much time we have available to do the chopping and prepping and cooking, without having to rearrange a whole slew of other meals. And, since we do our shopping for the meals all at once, we don’t have to worry about not having the right ingredients at the right time. Except maybe for those salads or rolls we want.
Big Events & Meal Planning Ruts
Big meal events will probably be easier too. Not that there have been many so far. The beginning of the year thankfully doesn’t have a whole lot of those. But we got to practice with the Super Bowl this month, planning out snacks and drinks to enjoy during the game. Everything could be divvied up depending on who was home when.
Another great part of this is the variety! I don’t know about you, but our family gets into food ruts. We recycle the same old recipes over and over, despite the good intentions of wanting to try new things. But now, there is a whole other human in the mix! And they have different tastes. It also helps that Bats enjoys some of the things Lovey enjoys that I do not. Poor Lovey hasn’t had regular seafood meals in ages because the smell is just… a big no for me. But Bats loves all of that. So when I’m out, they cook up the seafood dishes just for the two of them.
Breakfast and lunches are still all over the place. But at least dinners have been made easier. We have regular, yummy meals that mostly everyone enjoys. And when a particular recipe is a big hit, it gets marked to have it again. Eventually we’ll get through all the recipes we’ve added to our cookbooks. Maybe. If we stay off of Pinterest.
Let me know how you guys handle the dinner dilemma every night. Are you a big meal planner? Or a wing it every night kind of family? And don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest for some of our favorite meals!