If you missed my last post, you didn’t read that I have a weakness for chocolate covered twinkie delights formerly known as Chocodiles. I actually forgot about them for many years. When Hostess went out of business and everyone lost their minds buying up every last HoHo, SuzieQ, and Ding Dong, selling Twinkies on Ebay for ridiculous sums of money, I wasn’t expecting for the company to somehow come back to life with limited products? So when I saw the Chocodile on a gas station shelf again, I was instantly transported back to my childhood and mornings with Dad when he would run my brother and I by the Hostess Shop on our way to school.
Note: He grew up around the corner from a bakery. We think the sweet tooth is genetic.
So, my childhood was certainly not devoid of sugar by any means, and looking back maybe it was part of the reason I had strep throat more times than I can count since sugar decimates the immune system. Although my mom was a fantastic cook, we also led busy lives with ministry, school, traveling, and we ate our fair share of meals in restaurants, airports, and the like. For the most part, we were healthy and I suppose genetics/metabolism offset the bad stuff we consumed.
Fast forward to married life with a couple kids and we entered a time where we made many changes to diet and health. I will post more about that at a later date, but a mix of knowledge, information, prayer, experience, science, and history all contributed to making small, medium, and large changes to lifestyle over a long season. We continue to make adjustments as we go today. And we occasionally fall off the health wagon and have to get back on it. More details to come.
But I say all that to say, once you have knowledge and information about something, you are responsible for it. If the Bible instructs us that our bodies are a temple for God and we are to take care of them so that we may glorify Him, then what will we do about that?
One major thing that my family tries to adhere to as a rule is “If it’s not in the house, then we can’t consume it.” So if we don’t buy it, then it’s not in the house. With occasional exceptions to this rule, it means we don’t buy soda and keep it in the house…or Chocodiles. By and large, we avoid most of the inner aisles of the grocery store where cookies, sugary items and such beckon to the sweet tooth. The “treats” we allow are mostly a have-to-leave-the-house-to-get-it type thing.
So meal planning has become very important to keep us on track, to make sure we eat at home as much as possible, and also to KEEP THE FOOD CRAZIES to a minimum with my children. Lord, help me, sometimes food is such a battle! Either we “have nothing to eat” despite the full fridge/pantry, or they “don’t like it” even thought they ate it just fine last week, or something is “unfair” because one person got something someone else didn’t, or just because they had expectations that were not met. I looked into meal planning memberships, or even free plans found online, but so often they are either not healthy or on the opposite end of the spectrum into “all we eat is leaves and berries” land, which does not fly with kids very well. We would need to change those and it would become more time-consuming to customize/edit or re-figure for a family of 7.
Enter in, my Weekly Meal Plan sheet. I googled that phrase looking for one that someone else might have already put together (because why re-invent the wheel?), but nothing seems to fit the exact specs I was looking for. So I took part of an image I found and customized my own sheet using photoshop. We wanted a place for the date, for three meals and one snack for each day, a grocery list area with shopping categories, and a place for special notes. This sheet is 1/2 page so it’s big enough to stick on the fridge with magnets and for everyone to be able read, but not so big that we waste paper/ink.
Y’all, it has changed our life. We mostly plan on Friday or Saturday, shop on the weekend so everything is good to go for Monday, and are able to get mostly fresh food that really only last for a week anyway. Everyone knows exactly what is happening so I don’t have to answer a billion questions about what’s for dinner. Each day, lunch is already planned and the kids make their own lunch accordingly. Breakfast is a no brainer with no arguments because hey, “It’s on the sheet. The sheet is King.” And snacktime…SO much better! If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it, but there are no negotiations or mom wandering around to figure out what we have.
Now, it’s not completely perfect and has not eliminated ALL the Food Crazies, but it has helped a ton. We’ve also had opportunity to have many conversations about choices (or lack there of), planning, thankfulness, budgets, etc as we have submitted to the plan. I thought I would share in case any readers need or could utilize it. If you’d like a copy, you can click the image to download. It is two of them on one full sheet so you can print and then just cut in half. Happy meal planning! And may you avoid the Hostess aisle!