Categories
Family Polyamory

Meal Planning & Polyamory. The Perk No One Talks About

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!

Categories
Family Polyamory

Easy Holiday Planning So You Can Actually Enjoy Yours

I don’t know about you all, but Holidays are kind of a big deal for us. Gifts and Quality Time are my love languages, so naturally I get very into showering my family with both of those any chance I get. And the biggest opportunity is the end of year Holiday Season. So come November 1st, I am in full Holiday Planning Mode.

Our growing up traditions

In the before-times, when it was just Lovey and I and the girls, the planning and shopping was a simpler affair. Growing up, we always made Wish Lists, for our family members and of course for Santa. It was something I kept up into my adulthood, even if Santa stopped leaving goodies for me.

So naturally, it was something I wanted to bring to my own little family.

Lovey on the other hand had a more conservative Christmas past. His parents didn’t believe in the big commercialization and consumerism. They focused on the religious backing of the holiday. Which meant, for their family, church service, a meal, and 3 gifts each.

My poor little gift giving heart simply could not let that continue once we were together.

The perfect gift

A big part of the holiday planning, for us, is the gifting. The shopping, the wrapping, and the behind the scenes stuff that happens first. Like making those Wish Lists and collecting Wish Lists from our kids.

Once we had received them from both of our girls, Lovey and I would write out our budget and what items we would like to find, as well as who those items would be from. When they were younger, we would label gifts for the girls from their sister. We do the same for Munchkin now. But as they got older, Sass and Crumbs got into the spirit of picking out the perfect gifts for each other. So they get a budget and we take them shopping separately.

We also like to include extended family in all of this. (Did I mention gifts were my love language?) So that means we were shopping and planning for grandparents and aunts and uncles, too. And nowadays we add Boyfriend and Bats into the mix. That is a lot of people to keep track of!

So many events, so little time

Of course gifts is only one aspect of the holiday planning. There are also parties, dinners, kids’ events to take into account. Even if you are not personally hosting or throwing any of these, you still need to know when they are and if you’ve RSVP’d, right? And, if you’re a person of faith, there are also potentially church services and activities to boot!

For us, thankfully, parties are not usually on the calendar. There were the occasional work Christmas parties, but since we both left the work world where those are thrown, we have not had to worry about them. We do get to worry about remembering kids events, though! Every grade in elementary school seems to have its own holiday show planned so we were often going to school on two separate occasions. But again, there was no planning on our part. We simply showed up when and where we were told.

Dinners on the other hand! I used to overlook these in my holiday planning as our circles were smaller and less complicated than they are now.

I enjoy cooking and planning a big meal to share with those I love. However, I also have separate circles for all of my humans. Two, to be specific. One we are openly poly with, and one we are not. Planning and scheduling these sometimes can get a little hairy. But we always seem to make it work.

So by now, you’re probably wondering how on earth I manage to track all of this. And how you can too.

A better holiday planning system

For the longest time, all of my planning was just done in a spare notebook. A different page for all the different things I need to keep track of. This proved tricky more than once when I would need to keep certain things secret from certain people, or when I received Wish Lists. I needed a better system. So I started using a notes app on my phone. But that only worked really well for gift tracking. And none of the other stuff. That all stayed in the stray notebook that kept wandering off.

I finally figured out I needed something I could add loose pages to, something with pockets for all of those gift receipts and scraps of notes, something with categories and a touch more organization so I wouldn’t forget important details. And a calendar to put all the dates and parties and activities on.

Photo of the pages available in the 2020 holiday planning workbook.

So here it is! My printable workbook to organize all your holiday planning. In its 15 pages, you’ll find wish lists and gift trackers for partners, metamours, kids, and everyone else. You’ll also find budget sheets, a menu for those holiday dinners you’ll host, and a shopping list. And, of course, a blank 30 day calendar (with stickers!) to help you plan out all the events, shopping, cooking, and celebrating. Print, (hole)punch, pop it in a binder, and you are all set to plan the holiday season. And actually enjoy the holidays too!

I know the holiday season can get stressful. I hope this workbook can help alleviate some of that stress for you. It has certainly helped me.

Happy Holidays everyone!