Even now that I am staying home, my husband fixes a lot of meals because he enjoys cooking, and the baby always wants to eat and eat and eat just when dinner should be fixed. Since she sort of needs to be attached to me to eat, it complicates that whole being over a stove and using sharp objects thing. I, however, am left in charge of meal planning and food buying. With a three-month-old and intense graduate work, this task is a bit more challenging. With a picky husband, this task used to be difficult.
Here are some of my food shopping tricks:
1. Use Amazon Pantry (just bulk stuff, or things not offered on Peapod)--when baby naps, I try to accomplish grad work, not go grocery shopping. I do not fear grocery shopping with an infant; it's just annoying and cumbersome. Plus, I hate food shopping anyway. Food shopping online while posting in online discussion forums for grad class works out pretty well. It all comes in one big box, so it's probably better to use this method for bulk items.
2. Use Peapod (food delivery service through Giant)--delivery fees aren't too steep; they actually do a great job (at least in our area) of choosing good produce; they frequently send promo coupons in the mail.
3. Feed the baby. While she naps, take a quick trip to the grocery store for meat/specialty items. If the baby is cluster feeding at this time, I just wait until the weekends and make my husband go, or we go as a family. (Now that she's three-months-old, her time between each feeding has grown a bit.)
Here is my new meal planning method:
1. List items in pantry. Our family cannot be the only one that has a ton of stuff in the pantry that goes unused for months at a time. So, I made a list of items in our pantry, fridge, and freezer.
2. Once I had a list of what actually existed in our cabinets/fridge/freezer, I came up with a list of meals that could be made with just these things and possibly a few additions. I did not write down recipes. I just wrote down ingredients. My husband chooses his own adventure while cooking anyway, so recipes are nearly useless with him in front of the stove.
3. Once I had a list of 7 meals (at least one in a crockpot), I made a trip to the store or ordered food through Peapod. We make the meals with the ingredients that will spoil the quickest.
How is this method different?
Not forcing ourselves to fix a particular meal on a particular day gives us the flexibility we need as a family.
With this method, I always have at least one "easy" meal on hand (ex: Applegate hot dogs, broccoli, and mac and cheese), one crockpot meal, and enough leftovers to make lunch the next day. (I can't make a new lunch for myself because there is not enough time between naps to make myself something new and tend to other household chores/graduate work.)
Also, I created my own meal plan template based on my needs. Here's what a completed meal plan looks like:
By the way, we have been using this method for the past month, and it has been the only method that has worked for an extended period of time!
If you want access to the PDF file, then go here.