How Meal Planning Changed My Life as a Mom

How Meal Planning Changed My Life as a Mom

You know that saying sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you come back up? We’ve probably all had moments like this, and I wanted to share this story because it while it totally sucked in the midst of it, it ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Let’s go back to this time last year.

How Meal Planning Changed My Life as a Mom

Owen was 8 months old, I’d stopped breastfeeding and for the first time in over a year I finally had my body back. Hooray! Or so I thought. I was still in a funk—I was exhausted, stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed by everything on my plate. How was it that some moms seemed to be doing it all, effortless, with cute outfits, makeup and no puffy eyes while I was failing at every step? No matter how hard I tried, I felt more and more like I was losing any semblance of control I once had.

I truly believed that I should be able to do it all and could do it all—if I tried harder, it would work… right?

People say that everything changes when you have a kid, but you can’t even begin to imagine what that feels like until it’s happened to you. I loved being a mom, but I was majorly struggling to figure out how to balance my responsibilities as a mom, wife, friend and business owner.

I wanted to be everything to everyone. Also, I wanted to provide for my family while having plenty of time to be an amazing mother, a supportive wife and be a good friend. I wanted time for my family, but I also wanted time for myself—to do things that were important to me and maybe just have a little bit of downtime!

But, not matter how hard I tried, each week played out the same.

I’d run home to relieve the nanny, annoyed with myself that I didn’t get more done that day. I’d rush to get Owen’s dinner ready, feed and bathe him—all while thinking about all the work I still needed to finish. I hated that I wasn’t allowing myself to be present in those moments and enjoy them every night, but my stress had gotten the best of me. Rob would get home just in time to finish up Owen’s bedtime routine, while I’d head into the kitchen, dreading the inevitable question, “what’s for dinner” that Rob would ask as soon as Owen was tucked into bed.

It was an innocent question, but every time I heard it now it sent me into a tailspin of frustration and anger. Why? Because I had no effing clue what we were going to have for dinner and I didn’t want to be reminded of one more thing I’d totally failed at.

I’d often admit defeat and we’d order takeout again, and silently I was beating myself up inside. On top of that, I really didn’t like that we were relying on takeout so much. It wasn’t good for us, and I hated that we were spending so much money on it. We’d eat on the couch, barely talking to each other while we watched a show in silence.

From the outside, I probably just looked like an overworked, tired mom, but, on the inside, I felt like I was failing.

Falling short in my role as a wife and mom because I wasn’t able to balance it all.

Rob has always loved my passion for cooking, and has always been so grateful for my home cooked meals. It makes me proud to know that I am able to provide that for my family and when I couldn’t, I felt like I was letting him down (not that he ever made me feel that way). I felt like I was failing my family, I was embarrassed that I didn’t have it all together because I so desperately wanted to. I found myself becoming more distant because I was so frustrated at my own inability to balance it all.

As a mom and wife, I’ve always felt the pull to take on the provider role, maybe not as a breadwinner, but providing my family with other creature comforts—love, attention and a home cooked meal. Not hitting those goals I’d set for myself made me feel incredibly guilty and stressed—and I couldn’t see how it was going to get easier.

After another night of takeout, that sinking feeling of defeat and unworthiness crept in again.

But, for the first time in forever, I thought—NO!

I’m not going to keep doing this! Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Maybe motherhood had made a little crazy, but I was finally ready to do something about it and take back my life.

I knew I had to figure out a better way of balancing my responsibilities so that I could get dinner on the table each night. Growing up, my family ate dinner together almost every night and I have such positive memories of that and it’s always been something I’ve wanted for my own family. I wanted each night to end with us feeling relaxed (not stressed), having dinner and catching up on life instead of us growing more distant because of my own fears of not being a good enough wife and mom.

Then my lightbulb moment came—what if I spent a few minutes before we went to the grocery on Sunday to come up with our meals for the week instead of arriving at the store and hoping ideas would come to me as I walked the aisles? Meal planning wasn’t a new concept, but it was something I’d never personally tried before. But, it worked for other people, why not us too?!

So, a new Sunday morning tradition was born.

Owen would go down for his morning nap and I’d get to planning. I’d pick out several recipes each week—some of our family favorites, some I’d bookmarked on Pinterest and boom—we had a plan!

The only issue was this was that my grocery lists were insanely long. Each recipe had it’s own list of ingredients, some that I didn’t know what else to do with, so we ended up throwing out a ton of food each week. As I was cooking through the week, I’d learned that some recipes required more prep than I’d anticipated and took longer to cook, which got annoying.

I’d made major progress, but it wasn’t a perfect system…yet.
Then, the real ah-ha moment came!

I found that if I combined recipes with similar ingredients, I was able to buy less groceries, waste less food and spend less money! I also opted for recipes that didn’t require long prep time or only used a few pots and pans.

Immediately, our lives changed.

Dinner was on the table faster. We were eating at the table and connecting again. I felt more confident in my abilities as a wife and a mom and even when the house was still a mess and I was behind on work, I felt empowered knowing I did one thing really well that day. Also, I was able to provide my family with a meal, and more importantly an environment to relax, connect and recharge together. I might not have everything under control, but I didn’t feel like I was drowning every day and that was a huge win.

On a personal level, I was more patient and was able to be present in our lives which has been such a blessing. Being able to have one less stressor in my life has been infinitely beneficial not only in keeping us healthy, but feeling like myself.

I have more time to do things like run to the park with Owen before dinner, and more time to focus on bigger ideas, like what’s next with my business and this blog! I feel so much more excited dreaming about our future and we’ll accomplish and it’s all because of this one seemingly small change in our lives.

Sometimes I feel silly telling friends or family about how much meal planning has changed our lives.

I mean, it’s not rocket science, right? But, it’s had such a huge impact on our lives, it felt wrong not to share with everyone! And, that’s why we built Easy Weekly Recipes. It’s a simple idea, but one that will make a huge difference in your everyday life.

It’s crazy to think that EWR was born from such a rough spot in our lives, but it’s a reminder that even in your darkest moments, there is good there.

You just have to be open to it and look for it.

No matter where you are today, good or bad—focus on the positive, be thankful for everything you do have and you will continue to bring more and more good into your life. Try it right now. You can start feeling happier, better and more empowered just by changing the way you think at everything around you.

Want to try it out for yourself? Get our 5 with 5 e-book for free. Just click here!