Meal Plan Check-in – March 2016

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

March madness has been in full swing: Two parents working full time while we rush past St. Paddy’s day and jettison toward the third-most chocolate-filled holiday of the year.

So how close have we come to meeting our goals for this month?

For March, I need to plan meals that:

  1. …are Healthy for a growing toddler.

  2. …stay on budget of $130 a week.

  3. …rely on slow cookers on Tuesdays/Thursdays to accommodate out-of-house activities.

  4. …are quick to prepare (30 minutes) on Monday and Friday.

  5. …have carbs on the side for a moderate carb intake.

  6. …leave leftovers for lunches during the work week.

Meal Planning for March 2016

March halfway results…

Most of the meals, have indeed been healthy for my little girl. They balance her needs of a broad range of colourful veggies, some protein and some carbs, all (during the weekdays, anyway) made from scratch at home. Some of our weekends have been a bit more loosey-goosey (chicken fingers have made the roster at least once this month) but during the week, she’s fuelled by homemade goodness.

As for the budget, it’s half way through, and I’ve spent $648 for five weeks worth of meals, for an average of $129.60 per week. My goal is $130 per week, so it’s borderline under budget, but only if I don’t spend a penny more in March.

We’ll see, March meal plan, we’ll see…

Slow cooker Tuesday/Thursday meals is working out spectacularly. The only qualm I have is that I made too frequent use of that ever-tasty chicken soup. I think we may scale back chicken soup next month. Maybe only once or twice instead of many, many times.

In terms of cooking time, meals have all been quick to make, so I’m on track for that goal.

Carbs are on the side. I’m eating them, but they’re on the side. We’ll call this one a pass, if only because low-carb meals are for stronger constitutions than mine.

As for leftovers, I’ve got leftovers coming out my ears. Neither Gord nor I have had to eat a lunch to-go, so another victory! Yay!

In summary:

  1. Success! Healthy for a growing toddler.

  2. Borderline on track… Within budget of $130 per week – At $129.60, this target is borderline, I’m going to have to carefully execute my plan for the rest of the month.

  3. Success! Use slow cookers on Tuesdays/Thursdays.

  4. Success! Quick to prepare (30 minutes) on Monday and Friday.

  5. Success! Have carbs on the side for a moderate carb intake.

  6. Success! Leave leftovers for lunches during the work week.

Overall, a bit better than February.

Challenges

One of my biggest challenges this month has been making sure to prep ahead of time. I’ve had a couple of slow cooker soups made the morning-of, rather than the night before.

It just goes to show that even the best planning doesn’t mean diddly squat if you don’t, you know, follow through.

Thankfully, I’ve chosen meals that don’t take a lot of prep, so I’m somewhat saved by being prepared to make something specific on each of the days, even if it is from scratch on the day-of.

Another challenge I’m having is staying on budget. This one is due in part to a poor plan on how to handle essentials that are missing.

I’m going to update my monthly meal plan worksheet to include an essentials checklist so I don’t have to run out to the store when I run out of salt.

And soap.

And toddler socks.

At the same time.

Not to mention, it’ll be time to feed the Easter bunny soon. Gotta make sure the bunny is full up on carrots so he’ll have enough energy to hide some eggs filled with goodies. So there’s that…

Two challenges: Actually doing the prep, and accommodating those unexpected trips to the store. The first one is helped by having a plan in the first place, and the second will be helped by not leaving it to my memory: Checklist, checklist, checklist!

I’ll make it easy for you. At the end of this month I’ll post my updated meal plan worksheet including an essentials checklist. It’ll take the guesswork out of shopping, and leave chance out of the equation.

No dice-roll for me, I’m sticking to the plan!

Unexpected successes

One final note, I’ve had some surprise successes this month, by way of extra help from Gord and our daughter. Even though she’s too young to “cook”, she’s been eager to help. Seeing her so involved has helped keep me on track more than I would without that level of interest.

Second, Gord’s been a gem, picking up a few of the meals I would have neglected, making ours a fast-food-free house for another couple of weeks.

To use a sports metaphor I don’t quite understand: It’s easy to score a home run when you’ve got a pinch hitter in the bag. Or something like that…

I think I’ll stick with the anime metaphors (GO! Heart of the Cards!).

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