Outsourcing Jobs at Home: Leave the Meal Planning to the Kids
No matter how much work you do, every week your family still wants to eat ... every single week ... figure out what to feed them, get the groceries, unload and put away the groceries, make the meals, clean up after the meals, listen to ... "Can I have something else?" "I don't like this" "Do I have to eat it?"
I don't know about you but week in and week out - this whole process started taking its toll on me. But moms are problem solvers and so I took matters into my own hands and developed a meal planning system to attack this weekly adventure in our home. What I created achieved all this:
- All planning delegated,
- All grocery shopping, unloading, and putting away partially delegated and perfectly timed,
- Happy kids and hubby with what was for dinner,
- Easy, sustainable, and enjoyable for our whole family!
- Best of all ... added 15 days back to our lives to spend doing what we enjoy ...
Delegate the Planning
One thing I've definitely learned by running my own business is figuring out who is the right person to do the job at hand and putting that person in charge.
Now in our house, I was the one who found myself in the role of meal planning probably because I just did it and never asked anyone else for help. So I started asking for help and I did so because of these questions:
- Who is the best person to decide and plan the meals for our family?
- When is the best time for them to do this?
- What's the easiest way for them to plan the meals? I'm a HUGE fan of creating a system for anything you do more than once which is why you'll see why I used index cards below.
The answer to the best person = husband (Chris) and oldest son (Kip, 6 years old). My husband is amazing when it comes to healthy eating and keeping life simple and Kip is the one who most often would say, "Is there anything else?" so they are the best people in our house to do the meal planning.
The answer for the best time = Sunday afternoons are really chill for us and when our youngest, Tad, goes down for his nap that's when Chris and Kip take a blue timer (30 minutes) and plan the meals for the week.
The easiest way to plan = creating a stack of index cards. Like I mentioned above, if you are doing something more than once, then create a system for it.
This is our super easy index card system for meal planning. Besides the meal planning, this also has the benefit of helping Kip with his writing, spelling, and learning new words.
Index Card System for Meal Planning
- Decide how many meals you need for the week. We do five meals for our family of four and that our covers lunches and dinners. We keep breakfasts easy with smoothies in our Vitamix. Everyone has the same kind.
- Get the number of index cards you need (1 card = 1 meal).
- Write the meal on the index card and add the ingredients on the card. If you pulled the recipe out of a book, add the name of the cookbook and page number on the card; If you found the recipe on the internet, then you need to have a way to save links (if you're going to need the recipe).
- Take the cards and go to your kitchen/pantry to see what you already have.
- Add the ingredients you need to your grocery list.
- If it helps your family, then add the meals to your family calendar or menu board. We tried this but for us, it was easier to decide in the morning which one of our meals we wanted that night.
Keep your cards and then as the weeks go on, you can simply pull the card of the meal that you want for an upcoming week. For example, we have some version of tacos every week and so instead of making a new card each week, we simply pull the tacos card from the index file.
Delegate the Grocery Shopping
Do you have grocery angels?
Amazing human beings who arrive at your doorstep with everything you need and you never had to leave your home ... I do and you might too ...
Find out if where you live offers grocery delivery.
In our area, not a big city at all, all of our local grocery stores now offer some form of grocery service. Some have full-service delivery and others have a pick-up at the curb service.
Personally, I use Shipt.com, and it has changed my life! It has changed my family's life in HUGE ways. We have added at a minimum of 4 hours back into our lives on a weekly basis. That's roughly 11 days of time that we bought back! Eleven days - seriously!
Here are the questions to ask about grocery shopping in your family:
- Who is the best person to do the grocery shopping?
- When is the best time for them to do so?
- Are there ways to make grocery shopping easier for the best person?
In our family, the best person = our friendly Shipt.com shopper. I bought a subscription during a Black Friday special and saved 50% off the annual membership. Even at full price for $99/year, our family time is worth $8.25/month. Before we had Shipt.com, the best person was Chris and he would do the grocery shopping at 6 am after finishing at the gym. At 6 am, there are no lines and the shelves are fully stocked.
Now that we use Shipt.com, the best time = the day and time that I decide. For us, right now, the best person to put the groceries away is me and so I often set the grocery delivery for the early morning after Chris and Kip have left for school.
- Chris adds the ingredients that we need for our meals to our Shipt.com account.
- We set the delivery for the day/time that is best for my schedule.
- I interact with the Shipt shopper as they are shopping and put the groceries away when they are delivered.
Happy Kids, Happy Hubby
How incredible would your day be with everyone happy with what was made for dinner?
Raising my hand over here!!!
Once you know the best person/people to handle the meal planning in your family, then you are seriously moments away from happy kids, happy spouse/significant other!
I remember spending hours scouring cookbooks and the internet trying to find what would be fun for dinner, interesting recipes to try, and at the end of the day, all that really matters to me is enjoyable meal times where people eat.
Now that Chris and Kip are planning the meals, they are happy with what we are having, and I am happy having at least 2 hours back to my life! That 2 hours adds up to 4 whole days that I have back to myself! I could go away on a weekend cruise with all the time I'm no longer spending trying to find meals my family likes.
Enjoyable & Sustainable for Your Family
I don't know about you but I've grown tired of trying the latest and greatest, only to have it fizzle out after a few weeks. This simple system is tried and true because it's easy and by involving others in the planning, shopping, preparing and cleaning up - the ownership is shared.
This system for planning and shopping might change up the dynamics in your family and you need to know what works for your family but I also know that sometimes - we need to ask for help. People are so willing to help if only we'd ask.
Are you ready?
Are you ready to buy back your time when it comes to meal planning and grocery shopping? I sure hope so because time is your most precious gift!
This year, I'm all about buying back more and more of my time so that I can do even more of what I want. I love having happy family meal times and this is the system that delivers it weekly to me. And I've taken back 15 days of my life that used to be spent meal planning and grocery shopping.
How many days can you buy back to do more of what you love?