Weekly Meal and Activity Planning {+ Shopping} Made Easy

Weekly Meal Activity Planning + Shopping Made Easy | Mama Papa Bubba

Oh my goodness…  It goes without saying that our lives were totally turned upside down last November when our sweet Sam surprised us with his arrival 27 weeks into my pregnancy.  We were absolutely blindsided and not the least bit prepared {hello, nursery that was still being used as a catchall room after our move home from the Middle East}.  Add onto that a long NICU stay for Baby Bubba, us discovering that my appendix had ruptured {therefore causing the premature birth} a couple of weeks after his arrival, a 10-day hospital stay for me, us eventually bringing home a teeny tiny boy who screamed for several months, surgery for Sam, and then a pretty low-key summer with Brad at home, and to say that we’re just now starting to get into a groove as a family of four wouldn’t at all be an exaggeration.  10 months later, I’m still figuring out this mama of two gig.  Wheeew.

The good news is that I think we’re getting there.  Sam’s a mostly happy baby now, Gracen’s full-on obsessed with reading and loves to just curl up and enjoy her books {which means more independence and less constant chatter / questioning}, and now that September’s here, we’re getting into a pretty solid rhythm.  In fact, not only did I start working on getting Sam to nap in his crib this week, but I also meal planned!  Like full on meal planning and shopping happened. {And my oh my, did it ever feel good.}

The truth is, I haven’t meal planned in ages.  During our last stint in Vancouver {when Miss G was 1 and 2 years old}, I was a meal planning master.  It happened each week without fail, it made evenings so much easier, and we ate better because of it.  But then we moved back to Kuwait and I went back to afternoon tutoring, which meant that I was away for dinnertime 4 days a week.  Brad would feed Grae the one Gracen-approved meal he’d mastered {wholewheat pasta with broccoli, carrots, and tofu} while I was out and then he and I would scrounge something up or {more likely} order something from Talabat when I got home.  So back to what works.  My old system.  My Sunday routine.

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Now here’s the thing.  While I do like meal planning and it certainly makes my life easier, I don’t like things to be overly planned {says the chronic planner – hah}.  I like to walk into the kitchen and be able to cook according to my mood.  To not feel stuck in some rigid plan for the week.  So instead of planning what we’ll eat for dinner on Monday and what we’ll eat for dinner on Tuesday, and so on, on Sundays I simply plan 5 dinners we’ll enjoy at some point throughout the week.  That way I can count on the fact that the required groceries for all 5 meals are in the house, and when 5 o’clock starts looming near, I can just take a peek at my list and pick the meal that I feel like making that night.

Not included in my plans for the week are breakfasts and lunches.  Why?  Well, breakfasts are very simple in this house.  It’s almost always some combination of scrambled eggs, hot cereal, yogurt parfaits, fruit, avocado toast, green smoothies, or chia pudding, so I just keep what I need for those things on hand at pretty much all times.  As for lunch, Grae takes her bento lunch to school, Brad is fed at work, and Sam and I almost always heat up leftovers from the night before.  No plan needed.

That being said, I do like plan a couple of activities for the week.  Back when Miss G was wee and it was just her and I at home all day long, I’d plan an activity a day, but this time around we’re starting small – one or two activities for each of the kiddos.  That way if I need special materials or ingredients for them, they’re picked up while grocery shopping and I have everything needed in the house. Win.

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So here’s my basic system… First off, I come up with 5 dinner ideas.  These might be based off of things we have in the fridge that need to be put to use, my mental list of go-to meals, or one of my favourite cookbooks.  Next, I think about our week and come up with an activity or two that I’d like to do with Grae and Sam.  With my ideas jotted down, I then go through my meals and activities and think about what I need for each.  If it’s something we already have in the house, great.  If it’s something I need to shop for, it gets added to my shopping list.  At this point, I also look through the kitchen and add needed basics to my list.  Things like oats and milk and eggs – things I always keep on hand. Now truth be told, I used to just put everything onto one giant list in my notebook, but then I’d later find myself re-writing the list and separating everything into categories for easier shopping, so now I just use my handy dandy meal / activity planner and shopping list template and everything is done the first time around. Time {and paper} saved.

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With my planning done, it’s time to shop.  Now here’s where I’m trying something new…  Since Sam was born, I’ve been trying to allow myself more grace.  To not always have to do everything 100% myself {in the way that takes the very most amount of time, as Brad would say – hah}.  Bagged salads?  I now buy them.  Having someone come and deep clean our house every few weeks?  I’m considering it.  Not actually shopping for my own groceries?  It’s happening {and just might be the best thing ever}.  Recently, I’ve been using Save On Foods online shopping tool, and oh my goodness – I’m in love. Did it feel weird at first?  Absolutely.  Does it save me loads of time?  Absolutely.  Does it mean that I can shop for our groceries from home with a hot cup of tea nearby while Sam naps?  It sure does.

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So with my shopping list in hand, I basically just jump on the Save On Foods online shopping site and go down my list, adding things to my cart.  The site is really easy to use and I’ve already worked out how I like to use it best.  You can shop by department, the weekly flyer, your personalized lists, or provided recipes, but here’s what I do in order to be efficient and not end up adding a ton of unneeded extras to my cart {like I tend to do when browsing up and down aisles in the actual store}.

First up, I scroll through the weekly specials.  If something is a good deal and I know we’ll use it, I’ll add it to my cart even if it’s not on my list.  This goes with things that we regularly keep stocked in our house too.  For example, this past week, Save On had a big sale on Love Child Organics products.  We love LCO and had a decent stash of the munchkins’ favourites in the pantry already, but it was a really great sale and they have a great shelf life, so I let my trusty shopping helper stock up on a bunch of favourites for both her and her baby brother {isn’t she sweet doing our shopping?}  Next up, I browse through the produce department.  Produce always makes up the bulk of our weekly shop, so I like to browse through and see what’s available.  And if I do add items beyond my list, I know it’ll get eaten a) because I live with 3 of the hungriest people I know, and b) because I’m always happy to have said hungry people {the little ones especially} snack on fresh fruits and veggies.  For almost everything else on my list {unless there’s another department we need a lot of items from}, I use the search function at the top of the page.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it keeps me on track instead of veering off and browsing things we really don’t need.

Then, with everything added to my online shopping cart, I click ‘check out’, decide on whether I want to swing by the store and have my order brought out to the car {which is amazing when I know when I know I’ll already be out and about – no interrupting a sleeping babe or fussing with getting him in and out of his carseat}  or whether I want it delivered straight to the house for a small fee {which is amazing when leaving the house just isn’t something I feel like I can swing that day}.

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When the groceries arrive, I wash the bulk of the fruits and veggies before putting them away {save things like berries that I find last better unwashed}.

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While I do that, this guy might get a pile of applesauce on his highchair tray to splash and bang in {umm… sensory play!} or a giant stalk of celery to gnaw on.  Or both.  Because as a mama, you do what you gotta do {am I right?}

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Then my meal planning list gets hung on the side of the fridge so I can refer to it when that 5-o’clock-what-the-heck-am-I-making-for-dinner panic sets in each day.

Sooooo…. Did it work this week?  It absolutely did.  The meals were planned in advance, the house was stocked with the required groceries, and when 5 o’clock started looming near, I popped over to my trusty list in order to figure out what I’d feed my hungry crew each night.  Win!

Here’s a peek at what we ate this week…

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veggie chili with white cheddar, sour cream, & creamy avocado cilantro sauce

{this actually fed us all for two nights so our veggie black bean quesadillas are being carried over to next week}

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chef-style salad with boiled eggs and little creek

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potato, leek, & chickpea soup with feta & kale chip crumbles plus avocado radish toast on the side

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veggie & tempeh stir-fry on brown rice

First week success!  Now to get to planning and shopping for this upcoming week’s meals and activities…

Download your own copy of my weekly meal & activity planning template here:

Weekly Meal, Activity, & Shopping Planner | Mama.Papa.Bubba. 

And find out more about Save On Foods’ online shopping tool here.

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Save On Foods, however, all ideas and opinions are my own {of course!}

2 thoughts on “Weekly Meal and Activity Planning {+ Shopping} Made Easy

  1. Love this! Meal planning is also great for us, and I love when I commit to it… Plus it saves money to only buy what you need! I recently started a “recipes to try” template… I sat down one evening for an hour or so to browse my cookbooks for new recipes. Then when I am meal planning I will just refer to the sheet and then we rate the recipe as a family to decide whether it stays in our go to recipes.

  2. Wow, you seem so organised! I’m in agreement on the not planning which meal for which day! I do the same, roughly planning a few meals, and then usually decide the night before exactly what I’ll cook the next day.
    All you meal pictures look delicious! Would you be able to share recipes for them please?

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