Out of sheer necessity I created a meal planning system when my first child was a baby, and, with a little fine-tuning, I’ve used this same basic system pretty much every week for the past eight years. It has helped me kick things up a notch when things are going well and has kept everyone fed through survival seasons. Of all the systems that have come and gone in my years as a parent, this one has been the most helpful and effective.
1. I find the right kind of recipes.
I pretty much only cook recipes that I have found in a trusted cookbook or on sites that offer user ratings. Maybe in a different phase of life I’ll be able to try dishes that I find on Pinterest or cooking blogs, but right now my life has no margin for error: When I try a recipe that I’d pinned and it ends up producing a bubbling mess that is somehow both liquefied and on fire, this is a huge deal. We have no budget for last-minute takeout, and having six hungry kids and no dinner is not the way you want to start your evening.