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How I Meal Plan

One of my favourite things to do is to meal plan. I know, how dorky right? There’s something about meal planning that is so calming to me. I look forward to when new grocery flyers are available, I like planning ahead to what meals would work best on what day, and I LOVE thinking of new recipes to try during the week. I’ve shared a brief glimpse of how I meal plan in this post back in 2016, but let me give you a detailed look at my meal planning process:

Thursdays: The new weekly flyer for Safeway comes out, so I sit down and start making my grocery list. I do my weekly major grocery shopping at Safeway because I find that the quality of the meat and produce are consistent, the cashiers are friendly, efficient and knowledgeable (there is NOTHING worse than a fumbling cashier taking his/her sweet time with my groceries while I have a fussy toddler with me), and I like picking up a coffee for myself and a banana bread for the toddler at the Starbucks before we start our shopping. During the week, if we run out of one or two items, my husband or I will take the toddler on a walk to the Save-On Foods by our house and pick up the random items there.

I use the Flipp app to view the grocery flyers. I like that the app has “previews” of the flyers a day before they come into effect. The Safeway flyer comes into effect on Thursday, but it is available on the app on Wednesday, so I could do all of this one day in advance if I was on the ball!

On my grocery list, I’ll list the basics that we need to buy every week (milk, bread, eggs, avocados, bananas, etc), then I’ll write down the meats that are on sale that week that I want to buy – chicken thighs, steaks, ground beef, etc. Whatever is on sale and that I know I have a recipe for, it goes on the list. Then I’ll write down all the other things in the flyer that I don’t buy when they are regular price but are on sale this week – things like cantaloupe, grapes, chips, etc.

Then based on the proteins that I have on my grocery list, I go through this blog, my brain, my Pinterest board, photos of recipes that I’ve saved, etc and think of meals that I can make using those proteins. Once I’ve selected the meal that I wanted to make using that protein, I go through the recipe and add any other ingredients in that recipe that I need to buy onto my grocery list.

Fridays: This is the day that I usually do my grocery shopping. I have every second Friday off of work, so on those days, I like to go after breakfast with my toddler and that basically makes up our morning outing before her noon nap. On the days that I work, I go after work or sometimes it gets pushed to Saturday mornings. I prefer Friday mornings though because the grocery store is much quieter and relaxed.

My weekly meal plans run Friday-Thursday. In other words, if I grocery shopped on the Friday morning, the meal that evening is the first meal planned using that morning’s grocery haul.

My weekly meal plan also takes into account work schedules as my husband works shiftwork. His schedule is roughly five days on, five days off, and the five days that he’s on is split into day shifts and night shifts. When my meal plan covers weekends when he is off and I’m also off, I will plan for more involved recipes. Those are the days where I trial new recipes or make more complicated recipes as he is home to take care of the toddler so she’s not distracting me in the kitchen. On the days when he’s on day shift and coming home around 6:30pm-7:30pm for dinner, I usually make quicker meals or my go-to, often-made meals that I can do with my eyes closed. On those days, my favourite meals on this blog are often made, such as the Shepherd’s Pie, the Bolognese, the Swedish Meatballs, or the Vietnamese Braised Pork and Eggs.  On the days that he’s working nights, his shift starts at 7PM but he sleeps until about 3:30PM-4PM and leaves the house around 5:45PM. On those days, I’m basically with the toddler all day by myself so once again I gravitate towards the easier recipes or my go-to’s as mentioned above. Then there are the weekdays where I’m working and he’s at home. On those days, if it’s in the summer, he will grill steaks or kabobs with some veggies for our dinner after I get home to take the toddler off his hands. In the winter, I would have provided him with instructions on a slow cooker meal that he would have prepped earlier in the day, such as this ribs recipe.

I write out all my planned dinners in my personal planner.

And just to dispel the thought that I am superhuman and have homemade meals every day – not true! Life happens sometimes or I forget to defrost something the night before or I fail to meal plan properly and we have nothing to make into a meal – that’s when Skip the Dishes comes to the rescue or we head out to Boston Pizza. I think any mom can attest to the fact that no matter how picky your toddler is, the Bugs ‘n’ Cheese kids’ meal at Boston Pizza is always a surefire hit.

As you can see, I only meal plan for dinners. Breakfasts and lunches basically consist of the staples that we always have on hand – avocado toast, eggs, sandwiches, salads, leftovers, etc.

That’s my meal planning process in a nutshell. Does anyone else meal plan in detail like this?

(Cover photo: Free Stock Photo courtesy of picxclicx.com)

Featured/ Life

What New Moms Really Want for Mother’s Day

I had the pleasure of chatting on the 980 CJME Morning Show this morning about Mother’s Days gifts that don’t break the bank and what mothers really want for Mother’s Day. As a new mom about to celebrate my first Mother’s Day, this basically gave me the opportunity to drop major hints for my husband as to what I want! If you missed me on the radio this morning, here are my tips and ideas on how to create a special day for Mom.

Mom-ming is a never-ending, 24/7 job, so the best gift you can give a mom on Mother’s Day is a one-day holiday, and I have a few ways you can do that and it won’t cost you a penny.

  1. Let mom sleep in. From the first days of motherhood, moms are getting up every time the baby cries and this continues as the kid grows up, waking up to get the kids to school or waking up for early hockey practice. So on Mother’s Day, let mom sleep in! Dads, husbands, wake up with the kids, take them out for breakfast or something and let mom snooze in a quiet house. Then when she wakes up on her own time, you can make her breakfast or brunch or lunch.
  2. Next, give mom some alone time. Wrangle the kids, take care of the housework for the day, and send mom out of the house for some alone time. It would be a real treat for any mom to go shopping alone, or to head to a coffee shop with a good book, guilt-free and without any housework or time pressures.
  3. Next, the luxury of single tasking. Moms are the queens of multitasking and often will multi-task an activity they enjoy with an activity that they don’t. For me, I only allow myself to watch my PVR’ed TV shows if I’m doing something productive at the same time, like folding laundry.  So on Mother’s Day, allow mom to single task an activity she enjoys, whether that be binge watching a TV show without having to fold laundry or being outside in her garden without having to keep an ear open for the baby monitor.
  4. And finally, end the day with some quality family time. Plan a movie night or a dinner as a family (that she didn’t have to cook herself!), and celebrate your mom!

What do you think, moms? What else can I add to this list on how to make Mother’s Day special for new moms?

P.S. Can someone send my husband the link to this article? haha!

My beautiful girl who gave me the gift of motherhood

Featured/ Life

A Day in the Life…

The other day I had the most vivid epiphany about enjoying life as it is happening. I was thinking about how just a few years ago, I was living life as a forensic accountant, travelling all around the country working on investigations. There were many days where I was sleeping in fancy hotels, drinking wine in airport lounges between flights, having dinner in hotel restaurants, or working from my room with an order of room service. In hindsight, there was something enjoyable and somewhat glamorous about a life like that but in the moment, I was just feeling overworked, stressed and lonely. And just last summer when I was pregnant, I would sometimes go for walks to a local coffee shop and spend hours reading or blogging there. In hindsight, I wish I would have done it more often since I don’t have that type of freedom with my time now.

So, as I’m sitting here on the couch and typing this as my baby naps, I am reminding myself not to feel restless and to enjoy this idyllic time, as in just a few months I’ll be back at work and I’ll be looking back on this time wishing that I could re-live it again.

My baby is five and a half months old now and we’ve settled into a very predictable and enjoyable routine. My husband has been working night shifts for the past 5 days and so I feel like I’ve been ‘single mom-ming’ it for the past 5 days. However, whenever he’s at work, my days with the baby are very routine and relaxing. Here’s a snapshot of our day yesterday:

7:15AM – I’ve set the coffee machine on autostart and I can faintly hear the grinder going from our bedroom. The husband got home at 4AM, so he’s sound asleep. I slip out of bed and head downstairs. This is my morning “me” time and I savour this hour where I peacefully enjoy my coffee and a book.

8:30AM – Baby E is up. I head upstairs to change and feed her and have our morning cuddles. Then we head downstairs where I have my breakfast (avocado toast with a fried egg) while she plays in her Bumbo chair. Sometimes she’ll play nicely long enough for me to unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher from the night before. I love starting the day with an empty dishwasher so I can load dirty dishes into it as the day progresses. I start a load of laundry, then we head back upstairs to the bonus room where we play, either on her playmat, jolly jumper, activity centre or on the floor. Side note: HGTV is always on the TV when we are in the bonus room, and I’m chomping at the bit to renovate our house or to build a new house!

10AM – Baby E will inevitably start fussing after an hour and a half of waking up, wanting her morning nap. I change her diaper, and we settle down to read a couple books before nap time. Then I zip her into her Zipadee-zip and nurse her. I put her into her crib and she talks to herself for 5-10 minutes before falling asleep.  The Zipadee-zip is a swaddle transition blanket and Baby E just loves it. Her hands are covered so I don’t have to worry about her scratching herself, it is incredibly soft and warm, and every time I tell her “Zipadee-zip, it’s sleep time!” she smiles and coos because she knows that she’s going to get fed before she has to sleep.

Fast asleep in her Zipadee-zip and DockATot

These morning naps are the long ones, usually 2 hours, so I get a lot done during these two hours. This day in particular, I finish cleaning the kitchen, put the laundry into the dryer, and then head down to the basement. Remember, when I was doing the home organization challenge? Well, we had a bout of sickness in our household and then we went to Mexico, so I fell behind on the challenge. However, I’m still chipping away at it. I’ve cleaned out and decluttered my closet, resulting in one huge bag of clothes that went to donations and one huge bag going to a consignment store. Now I’m working on our basement – our basement isn’t developed yet so it’s literally where we store EVERYTHING. There’s a lot of junk down there and it’s overwhelming to think about cleaning and organizing it before we start developing it. So, I made a plan that every day during morning nap, I will head down to the basement for half an hour. I have a big garbage bag started where I throw things that we will toss, and I have a box started where I put things that I will sell on VarageSale. I spend half an hour down there, and then head back upstairs to read and relax until baby wakes up.

12PM – Baby E wakes up and I head upstairs to change her and feed her. We then wake my husband up (he has to head to work at 3PM). I leave Baby E with him to play and I head downstairs to make lunch. Today’s lunch is this Italian Sausage Tortellini. We all eat lunch together and the husband continues to play with the baby while I clean up the kitchen.

2PM – Baby E starts fussing so after changing her and feeding her, she’s back down for her afternoon nap. This nap is usually only 1-1.5 hours long, so I just read or watch TV.

3:30PM – Baby E is up. Another round of changing diapers, feeding and playing. While she plays independently, I fold and put away laundry.  If we have anywhere to go, this is usually when we go out. But today is a lazy day where I know we’re not going anywhere, so I haven’t even put on any makeup or anything.

5:30PM – She starts fussing. Another diaper change and feed, and she’s down for her evening nap. This one is only an hour. I make a sandwich for myself for dinner and relax with my book on the couch. (I’ve been reading a lot lately now that her naps are so good. I average a book a day!).

6:30PM – She’s up. Another round of changing diapers, feeding and playing.

Play hard, drool hard

8PM – Start of nighttime routine. I bathe her, give her a baby massage with Aveeno Baby Nighttime Balm, read her two bedtime stories, feed her and put her down for bed. She chats with herself for a few minutes and then quickly falls asleep.

At this time, I do a quick tidy of the entire house, set up the coffee machine for tomorrow morning, start the dishwasher and then head to my bedroom. I have a nice hot bath with a book and a glass of wine, and I’m in bed by 11PM.

The end of my day

5AM – Baby E wakes around 5AM for her nighttime feed, so I feed her and put her back into her crib where she sleeps until 8:30AM.

The next day starts again with the sound of the coffee machine at 7:15AM!

Isn’t that the most idyllic day ever? When the weather is nice we usually go out during her awake times, but we’ve been staying in the past couple of days. The days where my husband is off work are a little more activity-filled. On his days off, I go to the gym, I go to a coffee shop to blog, and we have random outings to go shopping, out to eat, various appointments, or various social visits.

I’m not going to lie, there are days where the monotony of this routine really makes me restless. However, I am reminding myself to enjoy the quiet moments and to make the most out of this phase as it will inevitably pass. I used to feel restless when I used to nap with Baby E and I was laying there on the couch with her for two hours. But now that we’ve sleep trained her and she’s napping on her own, I really miss those cuddles! So my resolution for the last half of my maternity leave is to soak in and enjoy every single moment because I won’t be able to relive these moments again!