Folks, this is such a simple post! These two little things, though, have really made a lot of difference in our meal planning and weekly meal rhythm that I wanted to share them with you.
For many years, we’ve been planning our meals with a framework of each day being earmarked for a certain main ingredient or type of food – pasta, rice, soup, nachos, pizza, frittata, chicken, etc. It has been so helpful to know what main ingredients to have stocked in our home, has helped the kids to have a sense of rhythm to our week, and still allows for so much freedom within the framework. You can find our menu planning resources, including tips and printable blank menu planners, grocery lists, and more over in the shop.
One of our struggles, though, has been breakfast. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut with this one – toast, toast, yogurt, toast, eggs… We do aim to have a breakfast rhythm as well, and it generally looks more like oatmeal, toast and eggs, yogurt with fruit and granola, repeat until the weekend when we have pancakes/waffles/eggs/etc.
So what changed recently? Well, I started making a big pot of brown rice on sundays. One 750ml jar makes enough rice for a breakfast of rice pudding on monday, and a rice-based meal on tuesday. That rice based meal might be stir-fry, chicken or veggie fried-rice, a casserole, etc. There is still so much flexibility, but no 4pm panic around what to put on the table. So that one act of dumping a jar of rice into the pot, and adding 2 jars of water, sets us up for a breakfast and dinner (and possibly a night snack of rice pudding one night as well).
The second idea, one I really love, is storing our rice in these 750 ml jars. I write the ratio of rice to water and cooking time on a round label* on the lid , so I don’t have to keep the packaging. I store two or three jars in the pantry, so I can just grab a jar, pour it in the pot, and use that same jar to add two parts water before turning it on. Once it’s cooked, I divide it into glass tupperware and it goes in the fridge already separated. Done. The better part (or, well, at least the substantial part) of two meals for a family of six!
*I always have a stash of these labels kicking around – they are the best. I use them for jar labels, gift bags, for the kids to make stickers, etc.
How do you save time and energy during your week of preparing and enjoying meals? Share your ideas, thoughts, and questions in the comments.