The holidays have been so very fun. Our holiday series was a blast.
But HALLO here it comes! The new year, the daily grind, back in full force, in just about two seconds! Hello, January.
So on the topic of January, can we touch on weeknight dinners for a moment?
Weeknight dinners are… how do I say this? They are just hard.
I didn’t really experience this until becoming a parent. I now understand that making a nice dinner, in a clean kitchen, with music of my choice, alone, to eat at a calm and quiet pace between 6-8pm is a very different weeknight dinner experience from coming home from work to a baby crying, a dog howling, a toddler needing a snack on the yellow plate but not that yellow plate, and facing a house-wide meltdown if I don’t get some dinner food into these wild munchkins by 5:15pm sharp.
These are my set of circumstances, and yes, they currently center around the two tiny humans in our house, but obviously the struggle to get dinner on the table isn’t specific to parenting.
Working, caregiving, relationships, laundry, dishes, cleaning, general adulting, mental health, physical health, maintaining any sense of a social life, seasons of grief and struggle and exhaustion… there are 101 reasons why sometimes it’s just hard to make dinner. It feels like a lot because it is a lot.
For me, these last few years of my life have dramatically changed the way I look at food. My life experiences, ranging from the heaviness of grief and loss, to the circus that is having a toddler and a baby (and a dog that acts like a baby?), have made me so curious and passionate about the overlap of what’s enjoyable with cooking and what’s realistic with cooking.
Enter: Meal Planning
I started to explore this idea a bit with the SOS series earlier this year. That series saved my life in a very real way after the birth of my second daughter as I started to go back to work. I made that series because I NEEDED THAT SERIES.
The SOS style recipes were so great, and I continue to love them. But I found that I was still struggling a bit with organization and the general overwhelm that comes from the task of getting dinner on the table.
“Meals” in general are one of my primary responsibilities in our family, and every Friday, as I planned for the week ahead, I felt like my process was random, clunky, and time-consuming.
So over the last few months, I started to pay attention to my meal planning process.
- What things was doing over and over again?
- What parts took the most time?
- What time-saving steps were helpful? What steps were annoying?
- How could I make this more sustainable so I didn’t burn out after 20 minutes of looking for recipes?
- What tools, preps, and recipes actually made me feel successful with meal planning and good about what we were eating?
And after months (or years, really) of trial and error, I’ve found a system that is working so well for me right now. This system has helped me build confidence in my ability to feed myself and my family in a happy, predictable way.
Guess what? It’s yours, for free, in January! ♡
Is this for everyone? Nah. You might not like meal planning, for whatever reason, and that’s okay.
But for myself personally? I am just really feeling the effects of this upward spiral. I feel really good about the ways I can provide good meals for my family that taste really exciting and fun, and the specific process I’m using to prep ahead has reduced my stress around mealtime. We’re doing less last-minute frozen chicken strips, less food and packaging waste with takeout, and more fruits, vegetables, and just happier-feeling food.
I’m at Nerd-Level Excited over here and can’t wait to share this with you because it has been so helpful for me in my very real, very often overwhelmed current state of life.
The System That Locked Me In
Here’s what is working SO well for us (and the format I’ll be sharing with you in our January bootcamp).
- Friday: I set the menu for the week.
- Friday or Saturday: I order the groceries. (This takes a surprising amount of time, even with grocery delivery! I never cook on the days I order and put away groceries – this is THE task in and of itself.)
- Sunday: *and this is the secret sauce* – I spend 60 to 90 minutes getting a head start on prep for the week.
That’s it. It’s… very simple.
But it’s a kind of simple that sets you up for low-to-no-stress delicious meals all week.
What Is The Meal Planning Bootcamp?
Our January Meal Planning Bootcamp is me saying, HEY, THIS IS INSANELY HELPFUL, you should try this for 4 weeks with me!
I’m going to give you my exact meal plans for the 4 weeks in January – the whole thing, from menu, to grocery list, to my detailed prep guide – and you can try this method out and see if it makes your dinnertime life a little more doable and a lot more enjoyable.
Enter your email, get the plans, try some or all with me. That’s it!
There are no rules. Just try it, use it, let it give you a boost with your dinnertime organization. And let us know what you think.
If you’ve ever felt like you could use some help with getting exciting, yummy dinners on the table, this is a sign! It’s your little free January miracle.
Specifics About The Meal Plans
The January Bootcamp will include four weeks of FREE meal plans, but please hear me loud and clear – these meal plans are NOT JUST A LIST OF LINKS.
They which follow the exact format that has been working for me:
- A meal plan with the selected recipes for the week;
- A full grocery list;
- A prep guide that outlines a 60 to 90 minute blitz for prepping your meals for the week. THIS TOOL IS CRITICAL and this is what differentiates this resource from just a list of recipe links. I already did the work to pull out the steps that work well to prep ahead, and I made them into a really nice and easy guide for you.
A word about prepping ahead:
I am a former elementary school teacher so I like to name things which is why I call the Sunday prep guide my 3-2-1 method. Here’s what that means for my prep days:
- 3 sauce preps
- 2 veggie preps
- 1 snack prep
This way, I come home from work, the sauce is done, the veggies are chopped, and I have a healthy snack to give the girls while I assemble everything into a hot, fresh meal that we all look forward to eating.
3-2-1. This method has been such a lifesaver for me.
- None of my prep items include any actual stovetop cooking – I like to do my cooking fresh so I’m not reheating previously cooked food for our main meals. All of the steps that I do for my prep are just chopping, mixing, or blending.
- None of my prep items include chopping onions and garlic. I prefer the taste of them chopped fresh, and that way the fridge doesn’t smell like onions all week.
How Do I Get These Free Meal Plans?
The only way to get the full meal plans is to sign up below! We’ll be delivering these January bootcamp meal plans via email only.
Sign up and your new plans will drop into your inbox on Fridays!
(You will need to be on this specific email list in order to get the meal plans.)
When Does It Start?
The first meal plan will roll out on Friday, January 7.
If you sign up now, you’ll be all set for that first plan which will hit your inboxes January 7th.
As a bonus I will also be sharing a real-time look at the prep process for each of these plans on Instagram stories each week, so you can watch me make these IRL and see how it looks in action.
I totally get that this isn’t for everyone – some people don’t like to plan out their whole week at once, or some people just don’t need any help getting dinner on the table in this season of their lives. That’s fine! If that’s you, we’ll have other fun recipes in January that you’ll love.
But for those of us who are riding the struggle bus at dinnertime and could use a little encouragement (read: cheat codes!) to get meal planning up and running in the new year, I am so excited to do this with you. ♡
Meal plans on us, starting January 7th! See you soon!